I was standing in the admittance line waiting to receive my packet of forms and information for my fourth semester of college.
What I got was a request for a check because my grant money didn’t cover my tuition.
“We need a check for $1400,” the woman said, instead of handing my admittance packet to me.
“So do I,” I said, and walked away from a four-year degree.
I had a part-time job at the public library. I had been working since I was fifteen, because I wanted to. My father ran out on us when I was ten. He never paid child support. I went to work as a waitress at fifteen so that I could buy my own clothes and other necessities. To ease the burden on my mother, because she had two other children to care for and was barely making it on a full time job as a police officer.
Days after I graduated from high school, I got a job at the library. I worked there for ten years. After I was forced to drop out of university, I got a second part-time job at a clothing store. When the company went bankrupt, I started looking for another second job.
I had developed an interest in the law, and my grandmother said she would pay my tuition if I went to community college. I got an Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Technology. I managed a law office for three years.
Then I got married. My husband didn’t allow me to work the six years we were married. Then he started cheating on me and became abusive and I had to leave him. He controlled all the finances, and he had things rigged so that I would be destitute if I left him. I didn’t leave him so much as I fled him, and hid in a city where I thought he couldn’t find me. He did. He had, during the course of our marriage, insinuated that he would kill a wife who tried to fight him for alimony or go after her share of his retirement. So I didn’t do those things. I considered myself lucky to be alive.
It is very difficult in this area to find a job, and if you’re a forty-year-old woman who has been out of the workforce for several years? You’re lucky to find any job. The chances of finding a job that pays a living wage are probably less than winning the lottery.
I often wonder what that $1400 really cost me. Would I have gotten a good job, never married the creep, or at least found a better job after I left him if I had a four year degree?
I don’t ever want anyone else to be in my situation. I don’t think kids should start out in life with crushing educational debt. I think that college should be affordable. In today’s deteroriating society, that makes me a bad person.
I don’t want to know the new definition of a good person.