I attended Northwestern for my junior and senior years of high school back in the early 2000s. I was a decent student, but I struggled with what to do next. I wasn’t entirely sure college was for me. After graduating from Northwestern in 2002, I spent my freshman year at USC. I was not focused and was unsure of where I wanted to go in life, and my grades reflected that mindset. So, I took some time off from college. During that time, I worked odd jobs around Rock Hill. I found that landing a job was difficult and the options were limited. After a year and a half of dead-end jobs, I got my act together and transferring my credits to Winthrop University, where I graduated with a degree in Economics.
While at Winthrop, I decided to pursue a career in law. After graduating from college, I spent a year working and studying for the LSAT (the law school admissions exam, much like the SAT is for college). I ended up attending law school in Chicago. Law school was tough but rewarding, and I found Chicago to be an invigorating environment for my studies. Ultimately, I spent 5 years as an attorney and worked for law firms in Washington, DC and Chicago. I have since moved into consulting, a job that allows me to travel frequently and to engage with business leaders across the country.
I would not be where I am today if I settled for those odd jobs after USC. My decision to pursue education and betterment paid off. This holds true for many. My former Northwestern classmates are all over the country working in a variety of fields. Some went to college and others went straight to work. And, some, like myself, took unconventional paths. There is no single direction that works for everyone. Whether you choose to live close to home or in Manhattan, you will never regret working hard and continuing to seek knowledge—no matter what form it is in. Complacency gets you nowhere.
It’s been 16 years since high school, and my only regrets are the times I didn’t focus and work towards my future. This is an effort that continues to this day. Your time at Northwestern is only the beginning. Graduating from high school is the first major step you will take in your adult life. Don’t let it be the last.