I know I’ve talked about education on this blog before. Hell, when I first created this thing I was in my final year at Chandler Gilbert Community College. This blog has followed me through classes, graduation, and every idea I’ve had about my intellectual future since then.
I considered going to Western Oregon University, or even OSU, but when I crunched the numbers, I just couldn’t do it.
We all have our stories. Our reasons why going to college just isn’t possible. For me, it just didn’t seem worth the debt. Almost every person I know who graduated with their bachelor’s is now crippled by student loan debt.
That’s not how I want to start my life. I want to get married, by a house, and write my fiction. And I’d convinced myself that I could do all that without a college education.
And, yes, I could.
But, thanks to this amazing company that I work for, I don’t have to.
Starbucks announced late last night that it has partnered with ASU to provide full tuition reimbursement to Juniors and Seniors. There’s even more awesome details and benefits, but this is the part that applies to me.
I graduated from CGCC with my Associate’s, and had always intended to finish my Bachelor’s. I even applied and was accepted to ASU once upon a time. But, through some wonky credits and an Astrology class from Hell, I never truly enrolled.
A decision that changed the course of my life.
If I’d taken a science class over the summer, I would have graduated from CGCC in 2010. I would never have completed the Creative Writing Certificate, and I wouldn’t have met so many wonderful writers and Instructors. I would have missed out on so much learning.
And I probably wouldn’t have moved to Oregon when I did.
My life would have followed a similar, yet truly different path.
But now, four years later, I have re-applied to ASU for their online English degree program. And Starbucks is going to pay for it. All.
That’s right. Starbucks is going to completely reimburse me for the cost of tuition and any fees associated with my courses. The only thing I pay for out of pocket are the required textbooks.
Can we just take a moment to understand that?
The Online Degree Programs are valued at about $10,000 a year. Starbucks is going to give me a scholarship, I’m going to fill out FAFSA, and hopefully get more money, and then Starbucks pays the rest.
That’s a huge chunk of money. A huge investment in me, from the Company with a Heart.
Like I said before, I convinced myself that an education wasn’t important to me. That I could live my life and follow my passions without it. And I can. But, finishing this degree is for me. I don’t want to do it so I can get a better job. I love my job, and Starbucks gives me the flexibility to work on my fiction.
I have said this time and again. And it’s still true. But, as I watched the announcement video, and the Partner Open Forum, I couldn’t keep the tears in check. Because, ultimately, finishing my degree IS important.
It’s not about getting a better job, it’s about my self-worth.
I’m done telling myself it isn’t. I’m done pretending that I’m not disappointed in myself for never completing my Bachelor’s. I’m done settling. Because that’s what I’ve done.
I worked hard for four years to get my Associate’s in Arts, and my Certificate in Creative Writing, both with Distinction. I worked two jobs, and went to school full time. I paid for my education out of pocket, and looking back, I’m not really sure how I did it. But, when I look at my Diploma, sitting on top of my bookshelves, I feel an unparalleled sense of pride.
And for two years I’ve languished. Sure, I’ve worked hard on my fiction, and I’ve completed two novels. I’ve had four short stories published. I’ve been working full time at the Bux, and have been promoted.
But, I haven’t really worked on myself. Pursuing this degree is what I’ve been avoiding. I let fear, and doubt, and financial insecurity convince me that I didn’t need it.
Today Starbucks reminded me that, if I wanted it, I could achieve it. The life lesson I’ve always touted. How did I let myself forget?
My dad told me when I was very young, “If you want something bad enough, and you’re willing to work hard enough, there’s nothing that can keep you from it.”
I’ve applied this life philosophy to my Starbucks life. I’ve applied it to my fiction. I’ve applied it in my personal life.
And it’s time I stopped hiding it from my Intellectual Life.
This fall, I start classes online at ASU. I’ll be completing my Bachelor’s in English. There’s no concentration option, but I basically already have that, thanks to my Certificate in Creative Writing.
I’m not letting anything hold me back. Not money. Not distance. Not me.
To read more about this incredible program, and the company and university that are making it possible, click here.