When I left my football career behind at St Cloud State University in St Cloud, Minnesota, I moved back home to good old Fond du Lac, WI and started right back to work. There was a part of me that really enjoyed the working world, enjoyed getting a pay check and I had no desire to take on student loan debt to go back to college. I had for the most part settled into living my blue-collar life, helping out Grandma and Grandpa and then I met your mother.
Your mother was in her last year of high school and had just picked her college, Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. Based on the fact that we had only about 7 months until she would be heading off to school and I was settled into my day-to-day we agreed that we would enjoy spending time together until it was time for her to go to school and then neither of us had interest in a long distance relationship.
I tried a long distance relationship when I headed off to St. Cloud and that did not exactly work out. Simply based on that one experience and the fact that your mother wasn’t really interested in a long distance relationship it all seemed to make sense.
I was inspired though, she didn’t come from money, she didn’t have a sports scholarship and she didn’t care about going into debt to get an education. The combination of that and your mother continually digging at me to think about going back to school got me to enroll at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh as a part-time student. I took a couple of night classes, continued to work full-time and was still living with my Grandma and Grandpa Feyen.
I enrolled even through the summer and made the decision that in the fall when your mother headed to Minnesota that I was going to give the life of a full-time student a chance. However, I had also become accustomed to a pay check so I took out loans for school and continued to work 40 plus hours a week.
Your mom was gone for two weeks and I had accepted that our relationship was over, but then the call came. Your mom called to ask me when I was going to come to visit and I picked up and left to visit her that weekend. We decided to try to make it work and we apparently did exactly that.
I spent the next two years at Oshkosh and was to the point that I was going to visit your mother every other weekend. In order to afford it I started to give people rides to Minneapolis to get gas money, continued to work full-time, took out a bit of extra money in loans and discovered the free money called credit cards (IT’S NOT REALLY FREE, DON’T DO IT.)
Your mom came back to Wisconsin for the first two years and then the third summer came and your mom decided to stay in Minnesota to do an internship. I was bummed and between that and the back and forth wearing on me I decided to look into transferring to a school in Minnesota.
I considered Hamline, but it wasn’t cheap so I even talked to the football coach and he offered to get me financial help to make it work. Ultimately though I decided that football was still a bad idea. I then decided to go to the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
That presented a huge problem too. They, unlike Oshkosh, included my time spent at St Cloud as qualifying credits which brought my GPA down to levels that really were not high enough to get in. After my debacle on the football field, I may have not made school my highest priority and may have invested a bit too much in unsanctioned extracurriculars. (We can talk about that some day.)
I had put all my eggs into the University of Minnesota basket and when I got the letter from their admissions office denying me admission due to my GPA, I was crushed. I had decided though that I was done at Oshkosh and decided to move to Minnesota anyway. I had dropped out of college for the second time in my life. I went to work at an auto parts warehouse which was owned by the same company I was working for in Oshkosh. I would be loading trucks on second shift hours and figured I would worry about getting back to school during the day.
When it came down to it though I knew I was good enough for the Carlson School of Management and I was not ready to give up. I put in calls to guidance counselors that went unreturned and eventually I walked into the guidance counselors offices only to be told that I needed to re-apply. I knew though that I would be unlikely to get in if I just did that.
As I was leaving the office on the day I was told to reapply, I was looking at the photograph’s of the counselors up on the wall and picked out a picture of one that I thought looked nice. I feel horrible that I can’t remember her name as I type, but I remember the friendly face. I wrote down her name and went back to my basement apartment near your mothers dorm and wrote a letter to her. A week later she called, the day after that we met, that day I filled out another application and a week later I got an acceptance letter. It was an amazing feeling and I did not let her down.
In my time at the Carlson School, as with my time at Oshkosh, I got near straight A’s. In Oshkosh, my demise was an accounting class and at Carlson School it was both Finance (I got my first C since St Cloud) and International Business (I got a B, and still think I deserved an A to this day).
It was amazing how easy college was once I decided to go to every class and I made sure the professor knew if I had to miss which usually meant they would give you some pointers on where to spend extra time studying. I also actively participated in class and in all my group assignments I never sought out the “cool” kids to be part of their group. I stuck to the front row where I sat myself, even though it annoyed the people who had to be able to see around me.
Ultimately, my degree says that I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelors of Science in Business. It fails to mention that it was via St. Cloud State and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. It also fails to mention that I probably spent more time on the Hamline campus than any of those campuses combined.
I got the degree though and I ultimately got it from a school that I chose because I wanted to be there. It wasn’t a school that gave me a scholarship, or from a school that was convienently located, it was from one of the best business schools in the country and I didn’t give up until they let me in because I wanted to go there.
I learned a lot from school, but when it comes right down to it the Carlson School taught me the most when they didn’t let me in. They taught me that if you want something enough, you should not give up on it because essentially if you do you are giving up on yourself.
You are the one thing in this world you should never give up on.