Education,  self-improvement,  Success

Winners are Losers Who Gave it One Last Try

I’ve failed many times over the years. I failed to be cautious one night and ended up pregnant with my first child.

I failed in my marriage.

I failed in my first business attempts.

I even failed in my first attempts to start a writing business.

But when I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and tried again, a future attempt inevitably led to success.

One of my myriad failures is concerning my education. I’ve failed several attempts at college. Every time I was forced to choose between my family and my education, my family won.

While I’ve consistently worked to educate myself using the materials I’ve had available, the dream of having an official college education never faded. While I’d not shared it on this website, I’d fully intended to make another attempt at college once I’d regained my financial freedom. I’d built in backup income streams to attain that goal. My plan was to eventually go into real estate as well as build up my writing business so that my income would not only continue to grow but I could pursue my dream of attaining a college education without money being a major concern.

The amazing thing about dreams and goals is that when you hold them close and work on them consistently, opportunities present themselves seemingly like magic.

The other night I encountered one of those opportunities. I stumbled upon the University of the People, an accredited online college that offers a number of degrees tuition-free. Students simply have to pay a $100 testing fee for the final exam in each course.

I ran the numbers in my head. Each semester is ten weeks long with five semesters in a year. Part-time students can take a single course each semester. By reserving $10 a week from my paycheck I could actually afford to go to college on my current income. If I reserved some money from next year’s income tax refund I may even be able to double up and take two classes starting next spring.

The concept was mind-blowing. I could afford to go to college right now! It would reduce the amount I have to invest each month, possibly change things so that I wouldn’t be able to actively invest on a monthly basis but that degree would open doors to higher paying jobs that are closed to me currently. I wouldn’t be able to invest as much in the short-term but in the long-term, the higher earning potential would more than make up the difference.

It would allow me to work smarter instead of harder as I trod the inevitable path towards my golden years.

I went to bed that night with a mind filled with possibilities. I tossed and turned as I analyzed the changes I would have to make to my current budget and schedule. As attractive as it seemed I didn’t want to leap in on an impulse. I’ve had my fill of impulsive failures.

Logic won out. While the thought of undertaking a multi-year journey towards a college degree is daunting I knew I could handle just one class. If I focused on just one class at a time instead of dwelling on the big picture I could attain my goal of a college education without driving myself insane.

That next morning I screwed up my courage and paid the application fee. While there is always a chance that I could be rejected at least I will know that I made the attempt.

I will know that I am still trying.

How do you deal with failure?

All of us have had failures in our lives. How we handle those failures defines us. Do we throw up our hands in surrender or do we step back, evaluate what we did wrong, and try again until we succeed?

When we’re presented with the opportunity to try again after a failure, do we allow it to pass by due to fear or do we seize that chance? Do we climb back on the horse after we’ve fallen off or do we resolve to never go riding again?

I am climbing back on the horse.

What are you going to do?

6 Comments

  • Melanie

    This is awesome! As someone who pursued post-secondary education for 10 years (BA, MA, JD), I think college educations are overrated, mainly because of the debt involved and the lack of practical application in real life. I learned a lot in my 10 years, but all of the useful stuff I learned was about who I was a person, not what I picked up from lectures and books. I think the goals you’ve discussed — that of financial independence as a savvy investor — can be accomplished without a college degree. You have the smarts to do the research on your own. But if you can do this at a cost that is affordable to you without incurring debt, I think it’s a great idea, and here’s why: just learning new things is a great way of keeping your brain flexible and limber as we age (and no, you’re not at all old — I am older than you are — but yes, we are getting older every day!)

    • Annie

      Hello, Melanie!

      I happen to agree with you. I do believe that I can accomplish my primary goal without a college education. That said, I’ve spent my entire life being looked down upon for being an uneducated hillbilly. Even as a child I dreamed of having an official degree to wave in the face of my haters. It sounds childish but it’s the truth.

      I’ve spent thousands of dollars in the past attempting to achieve that dream. This time around I have no intention of going into debt for a piece of paper that may or may not pay off. At the worst, it will provide a basic foundation in business and e-commerce that I may be able to utilize in my writing business now and my real estate business later once I reach that stage of my plans. At the best it will increase my earning potential so that I can achieve my goal of freedom a bit faster.

      Right now I have no idea which scenario will come to pass.

      For all I know, I may not even be accepted into the school. They seem to be focused on providing an affordable education to refugees and immigrants so this old hillbilly may not fit their criteria, especially since I’m openly sharing about the attempt online.

      And that’s okay. If they decide that I’m not qualified for their school I will learn from the experience and try again somewhere else at a later date because you know what? No one can stop me from learning. They may prevent me from being able to afford a degree at my current income level but I don’t intend to remain poor forever. I will do whatever it takes to achieve my dream. Eventually, I’ll be able to afford a standard college education but in the meantime I’ll keep doing what I can with what I have. Eventually my efforts will pay off.

      I’m far too stubborn to quit.

    • Annie

      My cousin got her Master’s at Phoenix. She’s a nurse practitioner as a result and highly recommended them to me. As a result, I’m not sure what to believe. While I’m not certain about Phoenix, I trust that they are accredited since I highly doubt that my cousin would have been able to find such lucrative employment otherwise…or would have spent the small fortune she did to attain her degree from there.

      Since I am far from an expert, I have to trust the DEAC. I doubt they would have awarded UoP accreditation without a valid reason.