Six Years & Fifty-Six Classes: Pursuing a Two-Degree Journey

Six Years & Fifty-Six Classes: Pursuing a Two-Degree Journey

Maybe a 3rd 👀

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5 min read

To be honest, even when I was going to college I had no idea what I wanted to officially declare. Looking back there’s always a lot of pressure around this topic when you're leaving high school and the first couple of years of College. What are you going to be/do in life? A pretty important question😅

At an early age, my Dad got me into computers which definitely helped. Although I used them to play Lemonade Tycoon or write an occasional story on a floppy disk. I remember him walking me through the basics of an OS, coding, and the vast possibilities it opened up. With those little childhood experiences, I knew my studies had to at least deal with computers, and not just use them to work. Hinting at something along the lines of Computer Science, Programming, Information Technology, or even Digital Forensics.

The 6 years (4 Undergrad + 2 Masters) I spent at George Mason was truly a memorable experience and I miss it. Looking at the design of the machine called College, it did exactly what it was designed to do. Expose you to new groups of people, teach you basic things about the world (general education classes, science, history, writing, etc.), throw in some fun(sports/clubs and parties), give you a little debt and help you find a direction of where you might want to go!

Looking deeper, these 2 programs came at the cost of 6 years of instruction but ultimately worth the effort for those famous sheets of paper. Why? Because I discovered a deeper interest in the practicality of information technology, coding, photography/design, ultimate frisbee and more! Undergrad for some may feel like a bit of a burden or a waste of time, but it helps build on more of the topics you learned in high school. Although that's not how I viewed it going into College, hind site is always 20-20 also adult hood hits you with a lot of realizations. Whether it's learning about history, science, or a new language, the bottom line is that you’ll further that basic education as you progress, and may even find a new topic you like. The hope is that all the money that is being spent towards that knowledge turns into something you can envision yourself doing for a while. And it doesn't just have to be one thing it can be several different ones, we’re not in the 1800s anymore we have plenty of options. Yes, College is very path focused and in the grand scheme of things it makes sense, you split up based on sub-school designations (Engineering, Arts, Business, Public Health, etc.) and you start down a path that is then focused on general knowledge within that sub school(IT, Photography, Accounting, Psychology, etc.) The tricky part is once you start down a path it’s harder to change to a new one, not impossible but it has the potential to lengthen the stay at your home away from home. And if you haven’t heard there is an ongoing problem with College students taking out massive loans to go to school. (except medical and law students) These paths along with general education classes then start to limit some of your time to branch out and take electives. But trust me, it’s do-able! I minored in Web design, which brought me into the Art world and exposed me to more than just coloring pictures in a book. (iCanShootToo) Reflecting on my experience over the last few weeks is where the realization came in, the importance of testing your boundaries is simply so that you can discover something new. Despite how much you may not like it at least you'll know with certainty. You can never have too many interests your only limit is the amount of time you have to put towards each of them.

Alternatively, there were and probably still are conversations spurring about individuals not attending college. In my opinion, I completely agree it's a viable path to take and can foster entrepreneurial growth and life lessons that you may not have been part of the ✨College experience✨. But the key piece that I found after hearing others' stories and doing some entrepreneurial work of my own is the drive to continue no matter what. Pursuing what you want without the structure of an employer is the hardest thing to do. Many have done it and more continue to do it, even after they’ve gotten degrees. Working full-time and working a second job on the side is just as hard, but a bit safer income-wise. If you are planning to take that step into the fray you have to be absolutely sure, be ready to fail and keep pushing.

The only other minus about missing college altogether is that some will inevitably look at you differently or dismiss you without that piece of paper. (in Job settings) Don’t get me wrong some jobs don’t have that as a requirement but now the issue is that you may be locked out from higher-level jobs. Having been in the salaried workforce for only 3 years, you will find that you can get written off for a lot of other things as well. This is not Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and College is not your golden ticket. The real work begins when you finish and where you plan to go, challenge yourself to be all that you can be but still have fun along the way! My favorite quote that I have on top of my Notion is by Pauletta Washington (Denzel Washington’s wife), “If you don’t fail your not even trying, to get something you never had you have to do something you never did”. - Denzel at a Pen State 2011 Commencement.

College is truly an experience, in many ways it falls short but can also exceed your expectations. The initial urge for some is to attend a college that is far from home to gain some independence, just be wary of the price tag that comes with it. As a kid you dont really realize it but you'll always keep learning, maybe not in a school but in some other form, it helps keep life interesting.

Below I laid out my undergrad and masters classes that I took throughout my time at GMU. Each journey is different, just start small and make sure you explore becuase who knows what you'll find.

Description of GMU IT and Digital forensics degree program

That minor comes in handy for photography, and little things like this ⬆.