One story of getting through college in three years

Kriti Sood

Someone dying of extreme joy might not be a common sight at the commencement ceremonies. Happy as I am for my upcoming graduation, I am equally petrified of having to experience a shock.

It seems like mere exaggeration but it is not for someone who has toiled days and nights to reach the final step in the ladder of college years. I did not have a long college journey; it took me three years to get my hands on what we call a four-year degree. However, now looking back at those years, I just wonder how I did it.

I came to America in fall of 2004 and dived into the complexity of higher education at that very moment. Starting at Pierce College, where I was charged exorbitant non-resident fees, I took only four classes for the first year. “I would be sitting here my whole life” is what came to my mind when one year had passed and I was not even close to completing my 60 CSU transferable units.

Then started the time when I was becoming known as the crazy one among my acquaintances. Taking 21, 24 units every semester, I rushed through Pierce and came out of it in four semesters. I certainly said it in one line, but it wasn’t really as straight. Pierce would not allow more than 19 units per semester. That didn’t stop me and I took the remaining units through Mission College. Mission was offering weekend classes at various other community colleges, and I chose to take them at Los Angeles Valley College.

Taking a one-hour bus ride to get to the LAVC every Sunday was the hardest part especially when the buses ran after every 45 minutes on weekends. Thank god they had the Metro Orange Line.

My life was not just school and homework. I was working part-time too. It was something indispensable to my family since we did not have many resources to survive in the new migrant country. So, in essence, my life was school, work and bus rides.

From the very beginning, I knew what my major would be and that is where I saved a lot of time. Students are usually tied up in nitpicking as to what they really want to do and when they finally realize their major, the school policies have already undergone dramatic changes. So most of them have to start from down in the flight of steps again.

I took summer and winter classes. I took whatever they could offer me to get out.

CSUN was a place I was fearful of. I got my way at Pierce but had heard a lot about Northridge University. More students, less faculty and unsupportive counselors kept ringing in my years as I waited to be accepted at CSUN. However, things worked out. I got into all my classes and came across very supportive counselors.

It was not only my family and friends who called me extreme; rather, I came across two counselors, who were so intimidated by my insanity that they told me up front that I could never do whatever I was thinking of doing.

A statement very ironic to the image of counselors, I thought.

Starting at CSUN in the summer of 2006, this would be my last semester. I have shown the same insanity during this past year. I could call myself lucky and to some extent I am, but I think what paid off the most is the determination and sitting through the nights of beginning of one semester thinking what classes I will take the next semester.

Boasting is not what I am doing. I am speaking to many students who are confused in a time of their lives when they should be thinking crystal clear that sincere attempts can breakthrough all hardships.

I did not lose the bliss of my college years as perceived by many. I enjoyed every bit of working my ass off. And now when I am 21, I can sit back and think what insanity to take on next.