Although my parents wanted and expected their children to continue to university after high school, I knew they had no money to send me. Through a program (too complicated to explain here), my dad had a “grant” for each of his children to attend the University of Washington tuition-free. But, obtaining it (too complicated to explain here) and paying for books and cost of living in Seattle, was simply out of the question. I had to figure it out myself. I wanted a four-year undergraduate degree and knew it was in my best interest.
Using the cooperative education program at my high school and the business skills I learned early on, I was able to get a job during high school and after graduation with a government contractor offering paid college tuition for coursework taken after hours. I worked full-time (the job had a 40-minute commute) and attended college courses at night, on weekends, and sometimes taking vacation to attend courses only offered out of town on the main college campus at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. One quarter I took a 3-month work leave and signed up for double the college credit normally allowed (had to get special permission). There were no short-cuts or easy on-line access available during those days—same number of hours (usually from 5 pm to 10 pm, 4 nights a week with no time for dinner and some weekend classes), same amount of homework as a full-time student. I drove to the school, plopped my butt in a hard seat and absorbed what was taught. I gave up sleep during the workweek and socializing on weekends with friends to complete the homework or attend class. I am not whining, just saying it was extremely difficult.
It took about ten years after graduating from high school (there were a few quarters I simply could not afford to buy the books and was not able to attend), but with determination I achieved a B.S. in Business Administration at Central Washington University (focus on Finance and Marketing) and a decent grade point average. And I am proud as hell I did it. “Magic moment” does not even begin to describe how I felt when I received that single piece of paper above. And yes, it was worth it…I was able to retire young, wasn’t I?