Going back to College: My Story

Technically, my college journey it started six years ago, but in truth I have been building my story since I was a much younger.

Growing up I knew I wanted to help people, I always acted as a “therapist” to my friends, family and even strangers. And from a young age I noticed the injustices in this world and wanted to make a difference.

You may be able to relate, when you are in high school there is a lot of pressure to make what is essentially the biggest decision of your life. How can a 14 – 17 year old be capable of making such important decisions when they have absolutely no idea of the challenges yet to come?

At the time, the best thing I could do was to follow my heart. I decided to attend college for Social Service Work, and spent the next two years learning about how to help others in a productive way. Near the end of my second year, I was lucky enough to get a placement at a youth shelter.

Working at a shelter for youth and families brought me into a reality I had never faced before. I left feeling both proud that I had made an impact in someone’s life, but also heartbroken that I couldn’t make a large enough difference.

Two years flew by in a blink of an eye. I had graduated and was moving to a new city. Feeling nervous and terrified about my future, my career and my well being. Was I on the right path? Is this what I wanted to be for the rest of my life?  

Tip: If you ever want to discover what your deepest values are in your life, move out on your own and try to make it work – you will discover a person you never knew had existed before.

I attempted to work in my field, but without continuing my education (e.g. getting a degree) I found that I was faced with a lot of low-income, high-stress jobs that weren’t going to cover my monthly rent. So I did what many other postgraduates do, I got a job at a call centre (insert jaws music here).

This is when everything changed for me. I gained perspective while making minimum wage and going nowhere fast. I realized that I wanted more for my life, I wanted financial stability, the opportunity to grow and a career where I could make a bigger difference.

This is where my real story began, and it was this decision that brought me to St. Lawrence College. I decided that I needed to give myself the best chance for success so I enrolled in the Business Administration program, with a specialization in Marketing.

I have since learned more about myself over the last three years than ever before. I was faced with challenges about who I am and what my biggest values are, and I had to face the fact that in order to gain the rewards I seek, I must take bigger risks. And it is passion, hard work and a positive attitude that will get you there.

Taking a “second lap” at college was the best decision I have ever made. I learned the value of becoming an expert in something, I learned that I have what it takes to be successful, and I learned that life is full of failures, missteps and changes but its what you make of them that matters.

-Jessica Carroll (SLC Life Co-creator and SLC alumni)