As you learned in my last post, I am not the average undergrad. I had hoped that transferring to Drexel University as a full time student would somehow allow me to fulfill my dream of being the “regular student,” but I was sadly mistaken.
It was a cool spring day in March of 2016. I woke up earlier than usual, unable to sleep from restless anticipation of what the day was going to bring.
It was my first day of school.
I’m a junior in college, so I’ve had other first days, sure. But this one was different. This was my first day as a student who was going to sit in classrooms from ten in the morning until five in the evening. For the first time ever, I didn’t have to worry about going to work, rushing around, and making it to class in the nick of time.
It was my first real day of school.
I was nervous as I stepped out of my apartment and onto the streets of Center City, Philadelphia. It was a short walk to the shuttle that would bring me to my classes in University City. At quarter after nine, right on time, the shuttle pulled up to the stop on 15th street. I proudly flashed the driver my freshly printed student ID, found a seat, and off we went.
As we arrived to Drexel’s main campus, the first thing I noticed was the hustle and bustle of the university. Up to this point, I had been so used to seeing barren campuses at night. A student here, a late night library champ there. I was used to the moonlight shining down on the main hall of Muhlenberg College, casting an eerily comforting glow across the quaint campus.
Instead of allowing myself to get flustered, I sipped my coffee and made my way to my first class. After all, the goal was to blend in.
As the class began, we went around and introduced ourselves as per usual on the first day of anything. I kept my introduction nice and simple.
“Hi, I’m Ashley. I’m a communication student and this is my first quarter here at Drexel.”
That’s all anyone needed to know. But as the intros ended, the classmate next to me called me out.
“You look like a grown ass woman with a credit score,” he said.
I had never been caught so off guard before, but it was for all the right reasons.
That simple yet bold observation changed the way I looked at this entire experience. I was under no obligation to fulfill someone else’s idea of what an undergrad should look like. This is my journey—and mine alone.
After further explanation, the fellow student explained that how I carried myself was just different. He got a “professional” vibe from me. After thinking it through, I realized how proud that made me feel. I had overcome countless obstacles to get to this point in my life, and although I know I haven’t “made it” quite yet, I am confident that I am well on my way—and possibly even five steps ahead of everyone else. After all, I have an established credit score.
So go out there and challenge the status quo. No one ever declared that you must look a certain way or talk a certain way to excel as a student. Find your own niche, run with it, and share your experience in the comments below.