“The college dropout”. Unless you’re Kanye West or Bill Gates, having this label attributed to you garners only negative attention. To be a college dropout is to be a wasted resource. “It’s a shame to see all that potential go to waste” is what most people say (behind the backs of the people to which they are referring). We hear you, though. You don’t have to say it to our faces because it shows in your eyes. Your body language expresses your contempt for us. It’s a good thing some of us don’t pay attention to your misguided attempts at encouragement, or else we may never get past the pain and onto success.
What follows is an interview conducted with Sommer Johnson, who founded Gemini Magazine, is achieving her goals and doing it all with passion. She is encouraging people to “join us in the revolution to open minds one cover, one article, one beautiful, sophisticated, professional curvy woman at a time.”
- Did you feel expectations from family, friends or society to succeed in college? If so, what impact did this pressure have on you?
My parents always used to say, “If you are going to stay here after you graduate (from high school) you have two choices: college or a full time job.” It never bothered me or put pressure on me because I love learning & I love school. What did bother me was the fact that I don’t think my parents understood my major. They wanted me to major in something like business or accounting or HR Management instead of English. I’m sure most English majors feel frustrated like I did when fielding questions like: “So what are you going to do with an English Degree…teach?” My parents just wanted me to have a degree in something that could help me 10 years from age 18; and, to them that was business or accounting or HR Management.
- How do friends and family treat you because you don’t have a college degree?
Only a few people in my family have an actual college degree. Most of my family, if not all of them, doesn’t really care.
- How do you feel about yourself?
Honestly, sometimes I feel stupid. Sometimes I over hear grown women talking about their college experience and I’m saddened by it because my experience was limited. Sometimes I am grateful for being able to start my family early. By the time I am 43 my kids will be away at college and my husband and I can dance naked in the kitchen. Lol.
- Why did you leave school without a degree?
The first time around I was lazy. I was also boy crazy and I didn’t feel like I fit in. The second time around I was working full time, mothering 2 kids under the age of 4, and being a wife. The 3rd time around I ended up getting a 65 on my exam paper in English (go figure), which gave me a C, which meant I had to repeat the class, which meant my financial aid was yanked (I had to get B’s or better to keep it). Being laid off with a mortgage, two kids, a husband, and old cars made it hard to go back. I will one day…
- Do you plan to return to get a degree? If so, what is preventing you from returning in the immediate future?
Money. I would go back right now if I could afford it. Perhaps when Gemini blows up I can go back and not think about what bills I have to pay.
- What is the biggest myth equated with dropouts that you would like to dispel?
That we are inexperienced. I see tons of jobs in the accounting and admin assistant positions looking for just any kind of degree. I’ve worked in accounting for 10 years and I grew up watching my mother be the Executive Assistant to Sanyo VP’s, small business owners, and so on. But none of that seems to matter. It’s all about what we look like on paper. I realize from owning my own business that just because you didn’t make it through school that doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes to make it. I feel like education is an array of things. It’s the crappy first job you had; the stupid boyfriend/girlfriend you broke up with (or who broke up with you); it’s the half finished college degree and birth of your first born. Your life is your education, but you have to add to it to make it greater. For some, that means getting a degree. For others it means spending hours in Barnes & Noble or online reading up on this or that. With my eyes on the future and my heart in God’s hands, my life is looking pretty good – degree on the wall or not
Many people have had to leave school for reasons other than the stereotypical “college just isn’t for me” attitude; and, many would like to return to get their degree, but existing roadblocks make it difficult. Support education reform to enable the passionate people to more efficiently achieve their dreams.