by Brandon Summers | March 2016
We always tell ourselves to keep looking forward, but the reality is that we do have regrets. I have regrets. Considering that dropping out of college is pretty traumatic life event, it’s worth entertaining the what if’s. Indulge me.
1. I would not have gone to Fort Valley State University (no offense to the university). I cherish my experiences, but FVSU was unwittingly a poor choice. I went to this school for the CDEP program and the full-ride scholarship (see Part 1: I Went to School…). Being a math major was never in my wheelhouse, but it was a stipulation of my scholarship. Who knew that upper level math courses would be so daunting? Who knew that the lack of options to change majors would bite me in the ass? Who knew that I would spiral into depression in my junior year? Who knew that the cafeteria food would be so gross?
Instead, I would have applied to HBCU’s with engineering programs. Several classmates were scratching their heads when I told them I chose to go to FVSU. They always asked me, “why didn’t you go to FAMU?”. I didn’t know any better. I was fixated on Georgia Tech. Being from the west and not having a family legacy of college grads, I knew nothing about HBCU’s. I also knew nothing about the South, Midwest, or East Coast.
I would have gone to UNLV, UNR, or NAU and majored in mechanical engineering.
2. I would have transferred to an engineering program at UNLV at the end of my junior year instead of returning to FVSU. I might have preserved my sanity and avoided the nagging depression that has followed me for years.
3. I would have asked for help sooner. I’m a stubborn individual. This is not always a bad thing; but when it came to passing these advanced math courses, pride and stubbornness were my downfall. In the beginning, I was so confident and prideful that I wouldn’t seek help. Often, I wouldn’t accept help from classmates– even when they offered. I wanted to have complete autonomy over my fate, and I got my wish. What I came to realize is that everyone gets help– even smart and successful people (even when they claim they did it alone). No one is self made.
4. I would have taken Discrete and Foundations of Mathematics extremely seriously. I should have done everything in my power to become comfortable and confident with proofs.
5. I would not have gone back to Fort Valley in 2011. I took out $7,500 in loans, and I’m still paying for those loans. I also had to endure depression. However, I had an awesome solo cross-country road trip at the end the semester.
6. I would not have moved to Reno in 2011 to take Linear Algebra II. I lost my mind up there. I could have lost more than that. Depression is no joke.
Also, I should have realized that Adv. Matrix Theory (UNLV) was a comparable course to Linear Algebra II (FVSU, UNR). This was a silly and costly mistake on my part.
7. After the catastrophe that was 2011, I would have dropped out of school in 2012. This is the only year I’ve truly experienced playing music for a living unfettered by the burden of being in school. Who knows where I’d be musically, financially, and mentally had I stopped constantly disrupting my life with school.
8. I would have sought mental health services sooner. Depression is serious. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and there’s nothing noble about trying to fight it alone. It’s an affliction that needs professional help.