Future Alumni Essay Contest - 2016 Runner-up
Nelson Mandela said, “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” As a self-proclaimed dreamer and a firm believer that education is the light in the dark our world needs, I had planned to attend college ever since I can remember. My yearning to continue my education did not come from any sense of obligation nor from lectures by my parents, but by way of my everlasting love affair with knowledge. I have always been somewhat of a philomath. Having had a love of learning from a very young age, my family often speaks of my undying curiosity. I had always known that high school would not be the end of my journey with education. However, my big plans hit a massive bump. The harsh reality of paying to continue my education was a hard a pill to swallow. Sure, I knew college would not be free, but I had no idea just how costly it would turn out to be. At a time when I was sure I would have to abandon my lifelong dream of higher education, I found Trident Technical College. The affordability, assistance, and the guidance I received gave me the confidence to pick myself up after being knocked now. I support and adore Trident Technical College because it has given me the chance to continue doing what I love most; learning.
Growing up in the public school system, I had never really taken a step back to appreciate how easily I had it. Paying for college is no simple feat for any student. Sky-high tuition, fees of attendance, room, board, and textbook prices seem like a nightmare once you graduate high school, and only become even more frightening when you realize you will be the one paying for it all. Sure, there is FAFSA and student loans— both federal and private— but what happens when those options just aren’t enough? I had already picked my roommate and registered for classes before I was told my family would not be able to send me to the university to which I had committed. FAFSA had not offered much assistance, and I had been counting on the bank approving me for a private loan. When the bank denied my loan for the second time, despite my parents co-signing, I had to withdraw with only two weeks left before the start of the semester.
I was absolutely devastated. Filling out the withdrawal forms felt as though I was kissing my lifelong dream of a college education goodbye. If I couldn’t afford to attend college, where did that leave me? I had only recently moved to Charleston and had not heard just how affordable an education from Trident Technical College could be. I knew that it was an option, but I just assumed I wouldn’t be able to afford it either, not to mention that there were only two weeks until the fall semester would begin. How was I supposed to apply and get accepted in such a short time, let alone register for classes and buy textbooks? It was not until my mother urged me to look into Trident that I realized something astounding; not only was Trident Technical College cheaper than the college I had planned to attend, it was actually affordable! So affordable, in fact, that I wouldn’t even require the private loans that I had previously been denied. I could get my associates degree and graduate in two years, debt free. Not only that, but I saw where Trident was still accepting applications for the fall term and continuing to encourage students to register for classes. Seeing all of this, I felt reassured that a college education was still a viable option for me, and I decided to apply.
Trident Technical College is a smart investment in myself because I can get a quality education at an extremely cost-effective price. If it were not for Trident, I would not be financially capable of continuing my education. In addition to being affordable, Trident offers top-notch academic instruction. My instructors are consistently helpful and available for one-on-one sessions, not to mention they all exhibit an undeniable passion for their job. The education and instruction I am receiving here at Trident Technical College is invaluable to both me and my family. My parents shared in my disappointment when we learned that I would not be able to go off to university. From a parental standpoint, they felt guilty that they were unable to provide me with a clear financial path to college and, as parents tend to do, assumed the responsibility for my inability to attend college. Being able to attend Trident has allowed my family and I peace of mind, knowing that I am receiving an education that does not break the bank.
However, Trident Technical College is not just a smart investment for me and my family, it is a smart investment in our community as a whole. Trident provides our community with the opportunity to be educated, something which I personally believe is the key to a successful and prosperous society. When education is attainable, members of the community often take advantage of the opportunity, which leads to a higher quality of life for local society as a whole. In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, he tells of prisoners who are trapped in bondage, seeing only the shadows cast upon the walls of the cave they are being kept in. The prisoners think that the shadows are all there is to see, completely unaware that there is a much bigger picture that they are missing just outside of their line of sight. To Plato, education is breaking free from that captivity, and having the ability to see things for what they actually are.
In closing, as a future alum of Trident Technical College I will encourage any person looking to further their education to begin their search here. I will tell my story of how if it were not for Trident, I would not have been able to further my education past the point of high school, and reassure anyone in doubt that Trident Technical College is a great investment in their future. Currently I am looking to pursue a career in theatre, a platform I plan to use to express the importance of getting an education and following through on one’s plans and goals. I am very hopeful that I will get the opportunity to share my narrative of the college who made receiving a higher education feasible, and the positive impact it has had upon my life. I will share my story of achieving my lifelong goal of higher education not only with the youth of our community, but with anyone who possesses a desire to learn.