Welcome to the inaugural class of '29. We've selected 29 graduating college seniors, entering the "real" world in 2018, to write about the state of their lives. What are their hopes, dreams, fears, stressors, failures, and successes as they leave school behind? We will be releasing new entries on a daily basis. If you would like yours to be considered, please email email@example.com.
Most people assume that college-bound high school students are getting ready to move to a new city and live in a dorm room. That wasn’t the case for me. When college applications started rolling out, I had no interest in spending four years of my life paying a huge chunk of change to go to school. Don’t get me wrong — I was a great student and always cared about my grades, but my high school guidance counselors got in my head. According to their “expertise,” I wouldn’t get accepted to four-year universities because I didn’t take challenging enough math classes. They told me to go to a community college instead.
Their lack of faith in me left a bad taste in my mouth, so I ended up only applying to a handful of local schools — both community colleges and four-year universities. I proved them wrong by getting accepted to those four-year schools. I was beyond proud, but I still wouldn’t move away for college. In fact, not much changed for me when I started the following fall.
I enrolled at Montclair State University, just a few minutes away from my hometown. I still lived at home with my family and hung out with the same friends. Instead of spending my “Thirsty Thursdays” at dive bars and frat parties like everyone I knew, I worked at my retail job. I eventually became a full-fledged workaholic. I took extra shifts and stayed until well after midnight some nights before heading to campus at 8 a.m. the next day. Family and home responsibilities were still a thing, too. If my sister needed help with something, I’d be there for her. If no one was home to take care of our dog, I’d stop by to let him outside.
Even my close friends didn’t understand my choices, especially when it came to my work schedule. “What do you mean you have work all weekend?” and “Why can’t you just call out sick?” became questions I was asked way too often. Work felt natural to me, though. I’d always been the type of person to save my money, so I worked consistently ever since I got my first job at 16. I wanted to earn everything myself, without relying on my parents.
But now, four years later, I don’t regret living at home during college at all. I learned that you don’t need to live on campus to make college a worthwhile experience. Instead of spending thousands on a cramped dorm room, I saved for my future. I still managed to make friends and get involved with campus groups. Plus, being around my mother and sister often helped my relationships with them flourish. I also didn’t mind working throughout college; those paychecks allowed me to do things like go to concerts and buy new shoes without stressing. Knowing how to be held accountable and save money while juggling multiple priorities made me the adult that I am today. I’m blessed that I know what it’s like to have responsibilities, work hard, and love what I do. There was no adjustment period for me working full-time — I was used to giving my all in school, so now I do the same at my job and I’m thriving.
Throughout college, I told myself that the more money I saved, the sooner I could move out after graduation. Now, a few months into my post-grad life, I still live at home. While it’s not the ideal situation, I know that I’ll be 100 percent ready — both mentally and financially — by the time I can finally move out.
Until then, I’ll continue to save my money, enjoy the close proximity of my supporting loved ones, and live my life as best as I can. I’m confident that I’m on the right path, and I can’t wait to see what comes next on my journey. Sure, I may have missed out on some college experiences by living at home, but I gained an understanding of what I needed to succeed after graduation. That, to me at least, is much more valuable.
Amina Lake Abdelrahman graduated from Montclair State University in May 2018 with a degree in communication and journalism. She is currently working in the editorial industry in New York City and loving every moment of it.