A Trippy College Life

Waiting fifteen months after graduating from high school before starting college, I rented a one bedroom apartment within walking distance to campus of the first of four different universities I eventually attended as I slowly but surely switched back and forth between full time employment and full time schooling to graduate twelve years later. It was a tiny redbrick, single-story unit built in the 1960s but not as tiny as efficiency apartments are these days. The pipe-smoking owner of the apartment building reminded me of Hugh Hefner in appearance and mannerisms and I didn't see him but twice–first time when I rented the place as summer was ending, and again when I moved out the following spring to room with a couple of friends in a new apartment building just a few blocks away.

That apartment was a two-story, two-bedroom efficiency with living room and kitchen downstairs and bedrooms and bathroom upstairs. It had a spiral staircase at one side of the living room and being brand new was a nice place to live for the second semester of college life. The three of us got along well and enjoyed each other's company during the semester we roomed together there. Then I decided to leave that university to go back to work for about a year before returning to college attending music school at a university about 240 miles southeast of there. After working in the oilfield again, I auditioned for the performance guitar program and was accepted into the school of music.


While attending music school at the second university, I lived in a dormitory. A coed dormitory. A very fun place to live, and the fellow I roomed with there (an artist) was fun to hang out with. We roomed together in another dormitory there during summer session too.


Then I left college to spend another couple of years to attend welding school and working full time in steel structures construction as a weldor before deciding to switch majors from performance guitar to civil engineering. While attending engineering school at a university about 45 miles to the south, I roomed with my brothers in a large apartment complex within walking distance of the campus. That same year I got my hands on my first personal computer, began using it to write software and loved it. So I decided to switch majors one more time and move again to attend the school of math and computer science at a university about 130 miles to the northwest.


While spending the final year in college there wrapping up coursework focused on mathematics and computer science I lived in a tiny wood frame house. During the final semester of my college studies, that little house was burglarized and I lost everything of material value, even my personal computer and all the food in my freezer. Good grief.

But I managed to shake off the fury of that dastardly event, persevered and finally graduated with a bachelor of science in a field which actually interested me, landing my first job as a professional less than two months after graduation. Twelve years of work and study had provided a rich mix of learning experiences resulting in a launchpad of acquired knowledge and skills which continued to expand over the next twenty years of career work as an employee, and just over another decade beyond that while operating my own business.


In retrospect–as difficult as it was from start to finish–I'm glad it didn't happen any other way. Everything I learned while working in various common-labor jobs and knowledge gained while doing college coursework eventually came into play synergistically in the wide range of projects I worked on as a professional computer scientist and technical business owner/operator. And the moving around from town to town and college to college prepared me well for a career spanning ten cities, eight corporations (including my own) and one government agency, all spread across three states.


Totally trippy.