According to freedictionary.com, nontraditional is defined as “not conforming to or in accord with tradition.” I believe in another definition it defines it as simply “unconventional”. I like that. Unconventional. It sounds like a badge that I am proud to wear. I remember growing up, the prospect of going to college was something, quite literally, out of the movies. I watched those classic 90s movies where people would go to college and have wacky adventures, even the darker ones like Dead Man on Campus. I used to move around quite a bit and each time we would settle in to the new place, we had a tradition of watching Animal House. It pretty much defined my life as a youth. I thought about the amazing toga parties and the idea of everything in excess. A catharsis of my youth and the thrust into adulthood. I even memorized the words to “Louie, Louie,” just in case I ever went to college. I knew that college was a long shot though. I was under the impression that only the wealthy went to higher education and it was just a dream for me so, I started paying my way through junior college. It took longer than I had hoped as I had to take a semester off and save up. I would go back for a year and repeat the cycle.
It was when I became a security guard that I finally finished my associate’s degree. I was interested in journalism and my next thought was, “now what?”. So, I decided to throw a Hail Mary, and I applied to Illinois State University and left it at that. I never expected to get in; it was just a shot in the dark. But that shot paid off when I got a large welcome packet in the mail along with my acceptance. With little funds and a large desire to continue my education at ISU, I spent my first semester of my college stay in the dorms, at age 23. Yes, it was strange
I remember when I arrived, I looked at my surroundings and saw how much of the ideal college campus it represented. It was like a dream for someone like me. I pulled up to Hewett-Manchester and knew I was in for a wild ride as people zoomed around with their overgrown carts, spilling lamps and pillows and Rubbermaid tubs held down by duct tape; it was all quite overwhelming. I looked around and thought to myself, “I think I am going to like it here.”