Read A Marine goes to college (Part 1) here.

Being back in school took some getting used to, but not in many of the ways I anticipated.

My first attempt at going to college ended before it began.  I was a high school football player with aspirations that didn’t extend further than just finding a way to play ball in college.  When I got hurt my senior year, my opportunities to play college football evaporated, and like any level-headed teenage guy, I responded by packing some things and running away to Alaska for a month.

By the beginning of the next semester, I chose to start classes at a college close to my home.  They’d offered me a scholarship so my family could afford it, I won some writing awards, and for a brief stint, it seemed like something I could do… then my father got into some trouble with the law.

There are a lot of things my father did that I won’t defend him for.  He’s had a difficult road, and found himself a good deal of success despite that, but he carried the weight of his poor choices with him – and behind closed doors, he brought that weight down on my mother, brother and me.  Near the end of my first semester, he was accused of mishandling funds inside the veterans nursing home he ran – and although it was eventually proven that he hadn’t – by that time we had already lost our house, my mother and brothers had left, and I found myself living alone with a man I hadn’t really spoken to in years.  Soon, my high school sweetheart, reeling from the political fallout of small-town scandals, decided to break things off.  All of a sudden, it was just my dad, me, and a genetic predisposition for drinking problems alone in our little house full of self-pity; and college once again fell by the wayside.

I eventually started classes again at a community college in northwestern Connecticut, until I was pulled out of class by administration one day because my financial aid had fallen through.  Demoralized, and convinced college just wasn’t for me, I walked away yet again, and took a job slinging parts for a local racing company.

Years later, while on active duty, I managed to barely complete an associate’s degree in business over the span of four or five years.  My poor grades and extended time table could be blamed on operational tempo, TAD trips and deployment, but in my mind, it was just further proof that college wasn’t for me.

But suddenly there I sat: creeping up on thirty and surrounded by teenaged Women’s Studies majors.  In a respectable four-year institution, with no one to blame but myself if I were to fail, I found myself all out of excuses – and I’d be damned if a little man-hating would scare me away this time.