I really, really want to go back to college…

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Do you ever get the feeling that you made the wrong decision?

Way back in 2009 I got my Associate of Arts degree from my local Community College. I studied design and computer graphics, thinking I wanted to be an industrial designer or something along those lines. But, tuition for some of the better-known design colleges was out of my budget. I mean, we’re talking about $100k+ Bachelor’s Programs. For a family that had two sons planning on going to college, it was hard to justify. I decided to rethink what I wanted to do and take a look at some of the more affordable options in the DC Metro area.

That’s when I found the game design program at the University of Baltimore. I went in, made some really cool stuff, and then I graduated with honors and a really cool thesis project specializing in Augmented Reality Technology! A year after I graduated, I joined a startup in my field when most of my colleagues were still working at Starbucks! And I did it all debt-free! I was on top of the world!

Me and a team of some other really bright people came up with a concept for an Augmented Reality First Person Shooter years before this technology became mainstream! I was really proud of the work we did.

5 years later, I’m broke, I’m constantly working for scraps, and I’m pretty much homeless. I banked on that “revolutionary start-up” being the catalyst for my success in Silicon Valley, but that ended up not happening. Instead, the start-up failed right around the time I got my first apartment, and interviewing with companies doing similar things was next to impossible because my degree didn’t say “Stanford” on it. I was unemployed for two years messing around with a camera and teaching myself photography because it was the skill I had to fall back on, next to graphic design and website building.

Of course, taking photos is one thing, but getting anyone to buy anything is a completely different ball game. Likes and shares don’t pay my bills! And now here I am, writing in my own personal echo chamber pining for the time where I was sitting in my algebra class doodling cars in my notebook, saying “I’m going to be the next Syd Mead!”

The thing is, I never stopped drawing.

I don’t know if it’s a compulsion or maybe just the subconscious desire to return to a time where things were simple, but I still make designs in my notebooks. Maybe something inside of me is telling me that I still want to be the next Syd Mead, Ken Okuyama, Tom Matano, or Luigi Colani. I would love to be the next Chris Bangle or Daniel Simon! Hell, even at that start-up, for a brief moment, I was working on concept designs for a new product! My ideas even made it into an actual product that we shipped! How many people can say that?

These designs were projects I took on at the start-up, hoping to give our product engineer some ideas. Some of my designs even made it into shipped products! I miss doing this.

I could feel it in my bones. That desire to draw and design and create always drove me. I never felt I was alive unless I was creating something from nothing but a pencil and paper. I feel like I was meant to be a designer, and got distracted along the way.

So, now I have a decision to make. Do I try and make things work with what I have now, hoping for something to happen? Or, do I take out a hundred thousand dollar loan and see if I can make my dreams come true, without a safety net? I’m afraid of reaching another dead end, but I feel like I’m at a dead end now.

I never stopped designing!

No one ever gets ahead without taking a risk. And, I’ll need to take a really, really big risk if I’m going to change the way things are going.

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One thought on “I really, really want to go back to college…

  1. It is hard sometimes for parents to be heard! If you were always so amazing in car designing and everything that had to do with cars, you should have stay in that field. Now going back and having a debt in these days is very difficult but not impossible. I will encourage to seek scholarships, and apply for everything you could as you may qualify. Good Luck, GO FOR IT! and keep us posted!!!

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