• LJANELLE

University of a Scatterbrained Child

Many high school juniors and seniors often agonize over the idea of where they want, can, and "should" go to college for years. For me on the other hand, I thought about it for a solid 2-3 weeks. Granted I was in all honors classes from the time I was in elementary school, I was in honors societies, volunteer groups, dance, art (duh), and a cheerleader (LOL), so I figured "My resume is pretty stacked; I'll get into somewhere decent at least and figure it out when I get there." Now I did get into a pretty good school but I don't think I figured the college thing out until I graduated.


During my senior year of high school in late Fall/Winter 2009 I decided to seriously look at what schools I wanted to attend. Most of my peers had already decided where they wanted to go and what they wanted to do. It was trendy to wear the shirt/sweatshirt of the school you intended to attend but I was just like "meh...I'll do it eventually". I was enthused by the idea of college but not the reality. The fact that I have to pay X amount of dollars to prove I am a viable candidate to employers seemed so odd. I know that's not what higher education is for many people but for ME (emphasis on the M-E) I just kept thinking to my 17 year old self "I don't want to do this shit". I toyed with the idea of taking a gap year and just working or maybe even going to art school (?!?) but without even asking I knew my Mama wasn't down for that.


Nonetheless I based the schools that I applied for on location, overall academic reputation, and social life; not so much specific programs. Now it was finally time to start applying. At the time I was applying to school none of my siblings had graduated college and neither of my parents went to college so I had a vague idea of what to do. I was on free lunch so I did not have to pay for any of my apps and I think it's absolutely absurd that anyone has to pay for undergrad university applications but I digress. In retrospect I should have applied to every school in the country just to see what would happen. Ultimately I only applied to 5ish maybe 6? schools. Only one of those was in my home state of Texas and I had ZERO intentions on attending. Ultimately I got rejected by my top two schools (which shall remain nameless), wait listed at another, and accepted into the University of Southern California as a Psychology major.


My first night in LA for orientation. So young and so naive...

I got accepted into other schools but it snowed in those places so I was like hell haw. Anyway, USC was not my top choice but I admittedly fell in love with the school once the idea of becoming a student became more and more real. I got on a plane for the first time ever to Los Angeles with my mom and brother and went to orientation in Summer 2010. Fast forward, 4 years go by, I changed my major fiftyleven times, experienced physical trauma that I still don't deal with, lost a parent, wanted to drop out, looked into transferring, and finally graduated with a BA in Economics, Psychology minor in May 2014. I was 2 classes away from getting a dual degree in Psych. This meant staying an extra semester as a part time student with limited financial aid but....money; so I took my credits and dipped. After four years of joy, new experiences, agony, gaining friends, losing friends, and a new found love hate relationship with the city of Los Angeles, I had a quarter of a million dollar sheet of paper to prove my intelligence and thousands of dollars worth of student loan debt. But I was happy. Mostly happy to finally be done with that shit.


Circa Halloween 2013 (those eyebrows...)

College overall in my opinion was ok and if you look at pictures it looks like I had a blast. It did shape who I am in part but looking back I just have a mediocre view of the experience. I mean I partied, went to sporting events, learned from AMAZING professors, allahdat but I just feel so "meh" about it looking back. The thing that made it worthwhile were some of the people I met in my social circle, jobs, and student organizations. I keep in active contact with a handful of people but not very many of which I truly love. I'm going back to LA in a few weeks for the first time in a couple years and the first time to Homecoming as an alumna. I'm most excited to see a couple of old classmates and go check out some of the exhibits at MOCA, the Hammer Museum, the Getty, and some smaller galleries. As I type all of this I still wonder was it worth it?


USC does this thing where they create acronyms for the school like University of Spoiled Children, University of South Central, University of Summer Construction, etc, hence the title of this blog.

The answer: I don't know. It's way too early to tell. I could've gotten the same degree from an equally as good but cheaper and closer to home school. I could have majored in something more specific. I could have done a lot differently. But also I don't care because it's already over and I feel like now I am making better decisions for my self and learning from my past nonsense. No longer am I a 16-17 year old wondering what I should do with my life. Now I know what I want from my life...somewhat (as far as careers go). I don't know exactly what I want my path to look like but I know the general path I want to take and that makes me happy. In retrospect I wish I got more involved with art while in Los Angeles but I am glad I did not go to art school or major in fine art. I wish I minored or at least took one class. I still toy with the idea of several different professions but they all go together in my mind. In a dream world I'd want to be a professional artist and child psychologist that helps children and young adults who have experienced various types of abuse, war, and other traumas through art therapy and other forms of creativity and education.


My happiest day at USC.

Side-note: if you know of anyone doing this on a GLOBAL or even a local (as in Houston, TX) let me know! I also want to work in Global Economic Development on some level. I want to create artists run studios in Third Ward for not only visual artists but performance artists, musicians, dancers, etc. I sometimes think about becoming an illustrator for children's books too. Bottom line is I now feel more than ever that I can do all of these things in my lifetime.


So I guess my specific experiences shaped who I am but I believe I would have come to who I am today with or without USC or college in general. More so today than any other day, I love me as a person. I think I am pretty cool and I do not really get caught up in others' baseless opinions of me. I still have work to do because admitting that I love myself is light years from where I used to be. So maybe I do have college to thank for making realize I was worth more than what I saw in myself and how external forces treated me.


***Update: I wrote this blog post two months ago but am only posting it now (Dec. 1, 2018). I went to L.A. and it was cool...lol. I may post about it soon. Below are pics of two of the only reasons why I went to homecoming:



© 2016-2018 LJANELLE 

Houston, TX. Email: ljanelleart@gmail.com

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