Two young girls wearing berets. I’ve taken quite a few trips around the sun, but I can recall my college journey as if it were yesterday. My parents did not have the opportunity to attend college, but they lived through the Great Depression and World War II and were determined that all 10 of their children would earn a college degree. They knew that higher education would open doors that were closed to their generation. College was discussed as an expectation, and all 10 of us earned our degrees.

Following the Herd

As the ninth of 10 children, there was a clear path to college. Work hard in high school, get a part-time job, and attend one of two schools: Creighton University or Briar Cliff College. Since I preferred Omaha to Sioux City, Iowa, and the rigor of the University, Creighton was an easy choice for me.

College planning, what’s that?

Although I went to an excellent high school, college planning was not like it is today. My school counselor did very little to help us understand the application process or the value of the ACT exam. I recall having the flu the day I took the ACT, but there was no discussion of retaking the exam. That would never happen today! Fortunately, my parents knew about college and financial aid applications and made sure I completed them on time.

What’s your major?

Welcome Week at Creighton was a blast! I loved meeting classmates from all across the country, and everyone’s first question was, “what’s your major?” Since Creighton has excellent graduate programs, many of my classmates were interested in medicine, dentistry, or law school. Since I had no career planning in high school, I went to college with the idea of becoming a dental hygienist, mostly because I thought my hygienist was a nice person. (I do not recommend selecting a career by this method!) I found myself in countless science classes with students who were determined to be doctors or dentist, and knew that I was smart enough to attend graduate school, so I quickly changed my focus to dentistry.

And then this happened…

I decided to major in psychology so I could take a wide variety of science classes. That was a good strategy, until I took gross anatomy as a junior in college. Yikes! I had dreams of partially dissected cadavers chasing me, not great when you are considering a career and health sciences. Even so, I scored well on the Dental Admission Test, and was accepted first round to two dental schools: Creighton University and the University of Iowa.

Time Out

Many of my college memories revolve around studying hard and closing the library most nights. It made me question if I was studying the right thing, along with the awful cadaver dreams! After I graduated from college, I requested, and was granted, a hold on my acceptance so I could take a year to decide if dental school was right for me. I found a job as an accounting clerk, and took business classes to round out my education. Funny, but the business classes came very easy to me; I would read a chapter, take a test, and get an A. That never happened with all the science classes I took. Dang, I was studying the wrong thing – all through college!

Time to Move On

One thing I learned in an economics class is to cut your losses. I had the “sunk cost” of all those years of college-level science classes, but business classes made so much more sense to me.  I notified the dental schools that I would not be attending, and took a job in the financial aid office at Creighton University. Two years later, I was hired to start the college planning center for what is now known as EducationQuest Foundation.

Hard left turn

I never had a clear path of “what I wanted to be” as an adult, but the journey sure was interesting. Looking back, I would not have changed a thing. I truly enjoyed all the people I met along the way, the things I learned, and how I can help others make their path to college a little smoother, a little straighter.