Why I Dropped Out

I have never been a constant individual. Indecision comes easy to me. I wish that I was one of “those kids” who knew exactly what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. But unfortunately that was not my lot. I graduated high school without ever really taking an interest in anything. I didn’t like high school much. I was happy to be done with it in 2001. I had no interest in taking the SAT or whatever else people usually do after they graduate high school. I knew what the next few years had in store for me and that they didn’t involve going to college, so, I just didn’t prepare for higher education. That is also a characteristic I possess, for better or for worse; I take life one day at a time.

Education became a real goal in my life when I returned from my hiatus at age 21 and began my higher education in the fall of 2004. Modesto Junior College was much more enjoyable than high school because I had since learned to appreciate knowledge. My first semester introduced me to the most influential author of my life, John Steinbeck. I connected with his style of writing and admired his ability to describe with eloquence. He quickly became a pastime and served as a gateway to other classic novels I took to reading. I enrolled in all sorts of classes and enjoyed all of them; even the math classes I took which were really just a safeguard. While I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life (besides getting enough credits to transfer to a university) I seemed to lean toward a major in graphic design or photography. I took an art class, two photoshop classes, an illustrator class, a black & white photography class and during my last semester, a graphic design class. At some point during my years at MJC I also bought a DSLR camera which soon became my main hobby. So, when I was accepted at San José State University beginning spring 2007, I began it as a photojournalism major.

I don’t remember exactly why I chose photojournalism over photography proper. I must have been brainstorming ideas and photojournalism seemed a happy compromise of photography (which I knew I loved) and another career which might come in handy someday (I was hedging my bets). One semester of that proved to be pretty mundane. I spent the summer in San Diego and ended up taking the next semester off. I was also gifted a pair of binoculars that year which I would point toward the sky (more on that later). Shortly after my return to the Bay Area in 2008 I was blessed with a robbery while living with an old roommate until I could find an apartment. My camera and Xbox were stolen from my car the day before the spring semester began. I was registered for four photography classes. I felt like the shattered glass of my car window. Even before the burglary I had questioned whether photography was the right major. I was never really good at it. It just didn’t come natural like it did for other people I knew. I decided to make a break for another major utilizing the robbery as justification.

Remember when I was a child, how I would study maps of the world for fun? I decided to give it a shot. Geography was my next choice of major. While some of the classes were interesting, Geography did not turn out to be the major I expected it to be. I imagined drawing maps and marking coordinates all day. I dreamed up a position at NASA where I would help with the mapping of Pluto when the spacecraft New Horizons arrives in 2015. SJSU Geography courses turned out to be more about culture and economy than science. I should have guessed since it was a Bachelor’s in Art that was offered. My next excuse for a major change came in the form of a car crash the very next semester. Danielle and I were treating our friend Jason to dinner in Gilroy on his birthday, September 1st. My car was totaled at an intersection when a lady ran a red light and plowed her car into mine. We were all pretty shook up and I decided the neck injury Danielle suffered, the insurance forms that needed to be filled out and the hunt for a new car was too much to deal with during a full load at school. I dropped out of all my classes and gave my life a great deal of thinking. One of my more unfortunate habits is that when I have an abundance of time on my hands, I tend to spend more money. I bought a huge telescope.

The spring semester that followed marked a major turning point in my college education. It was during this year that I first began to take the proposition of a Bachelor’s in Science seriously. So I manned up and took a math class while still keeping one foot in Geography (remote sensing) but while also taking an Astronomy class (which also fulfilled a GE requirement). Fall was a milestone because it marked the semester that I finally found out what Calculus was all about, amongst other things. Spring 2010 brought with it Calculus II, my final Chemistry class and my first Physics class. By this time I had decided Physics was my major; a necessary step if I ever decided to pursue a post graduate degree in Astronomy. I wrapped the year up proudly with a third course in Calculus, rounded off with another course in Physics. I had finally found my calling. Things were moving swiftly now. I had a clear goal.

2011, however, did not go as planned. If you were to look at the suggested four-year
outline for a physics major, 2011 would be my first step past the two year mark, finally

treading in waters deemed “upper-division”. You see, when I decided to pursue a degree in the sciences, I basically had to start from step one because my previous majors didn’t require any of the math-based GE’s that Physics demanded. My first mistake was to follow the suggested program of study. I should not have taken two math classes in one semester, especially ones with names like “Linear Algebra” and “Ordinary Differential Equations”. Mind you these were classes with three digits in their course title, a feat not yet conquered in my college career. Slap on a healthy Physics course in Heat & Light with a three hour lab and throw in an SJSU required technical writing course and you might start to see the beginning of an eminent epic fail. I got behind in my studies, didn’t learn well from one of my teachers, and for some reason wasn’t getting enough sleep. I ended up deciding to drop O.D.E. but it only helped for a while. I just couldn’t catch up in Physics. In the end, I received a B, C, D and an F that semester; the F being the first I had ever received in my college career. So there I was, no closer to graduating from college than I was four and a half years ago when I left MJC with an Associate’s in “Transfer Studies”.

I decided this would conclude my college experience. A lot of people go to school for seven years. They’re called doctors. They’re also called indecisive and disenchanted. One of them is called Josh. Two and a half more years is just too much to ask for a degree that, quite frankly, might go unused. The mere accomplishment does not drive me like it used to. Especially since the free money from the government dried up and the last two semesters were paid for in student loans. Luckily, I have a good job and work for a good company which offers many opportunities to grow. Over the summer I have taken to acquiring certifications in Aperture (professional photography software), Logic (professional audio software), and I will soon be certified in Final Cut (professional video editing software) making me a well rounded and valuable individual at Apple. I also have lenses in transit to my apartment with which I plan to build by hand my very own refractor telescope. I wrote this memoir partly for myself and partly for those who would like to know the saga of my education. I enjoy putting my thoughts on paper (be it analog or digital), it helps me sort them out and analyze them. And there you have it.

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