Feeling lost in my college journey

I’m currently a sophomore/junior (transferred into a different uni it’s a long story) health education major and I feel like I’m a lost point in my college journey.

I’m doing well in school. My GPA for the spring and fall semesters of 2021 stands at a 4.0. I like my major, but I have no clue what I want to do with it. I know I want to pursue Public Health because I like the idea of helping other people without being a doctor or a nurse. I like the idea of prevention and caring for a community instead of just one individual. My only downside is that I am terrible at science, and at one point I was thinking about putting the hate aside so I could pursue a major I like. There was a time I had no clue what to major in. Now that I know, I have to make this work.

A little while ago, I made a forum on here regarding paying expensive tuition. This year, I transferred into my “dream school” which I realized at the last minute was super expensive. My family is struggling to pay this fall bill of over $10k. I have no scholarships, a small grant, and I basically rely on loans to get me through.

Majority of the responses told me to withdrawal, work, and find another school. But part of me wants to stay here so badly. I hoped for this opportunity for many years and the thought of leaving it crushes me. But I gave myself a reality check and told myself that my family isn’t rich, and the dream is not financially possible. But my parents also tried to convince me to stay here and it feels like they want me to live out their dream. They want me to stay here, yet they have no clear plan to pay for it. They just want me to take out all these loans, and even try private loans. But I personally don’t know anything about this loan and credit stuff, so I don’t even want to bother with it.

I am a huge introvert with hardly any friends. Since I am at an HBCU, my parents keep trying to convince me to go for a sorority since they swear it’ll grant me “sisters for life.” Not to knock down sororities/fraternities, but I always felt like something was off about them, like they just weren’t for me. They basically make it seem like once I pledge, my whole life will just be perfect, but I really feel like things will go wrong.

COVID has ruined my college experience completely, as well as everyone else of course. I started college in fall 2019, so I really only had one NORMAL semester. I was on campus for the fall, but there were COVID restrictions and you can imagine how that all went down.

I wanna stay in college because I don’t want to work, that’s just how I feel plain and simple. I don’t think I’m ready to have a full-time job. I don’t have anything else to do, so I’m kinda better off at school. But then my future doesn’t look clear like everyone elses. Sometimes, I really wish I loved science and I wanted to actually be a doctor. Or wished I wanted to be a lawyer.

I’m not asking for advice here, I’m just ranting. I’m only 20 and people expect me to know what I want to do for the rest of my life. I don’t even want just ONE job for the rest of my life I kinda want to explore.

As I recall, it was starting to look impossible to borrow enough to keep attending school. It is unlikely you will qualify for the loans you need.

I am sorry you are dealing with this. I was one who suggested finding a job with an employer who would pay tuition.

But your venting gave me another thought. You have an interest in public health and you want to explore. In my part of the country, county health departments are doing a lot of hiring right now of people to make telephone calls and do contact tracing/outreach related to COVID. I don’t think any special experience was required other than a high school education.

That kind of job wouldn’t come with tuition benefits, but it would allow you to work in public health and learn more about future careers you could pursue. It would be sort of like a paid internship.

I know you didn’t ask for advice, so disregard this if it isn’t helpful.

But you may not have a choice soon — you won’t be able to stay in school if you can’t pay and that leaves working for the time being. And you really need to start establishing some kind of work history to help you find a professional position after you get a degree. Working at Target can do that, but if that doesn’t appeal, there are options more aligned with your interests. And it doesn’t have to be forever.



Thanks for the advice anyway. I like your suggestion of working in county health departments, especially if I don’t need anymore than a high school degree.

I forgot to update that old forum, but my parents were talking about helping to pay for the upcoming semester and transferring so I don’t have to leave, but like I said I never heard a clear plan and I’m guessing it involves me trying to take out a loan, which I know probably won’t be possible.

To be honest, with COVID, I have a strong feeling this semester will be online. That means the cost will automatically be cut with no housing or a meal plan. But I think the tuition would still be $7k $8k, which, still, no one would be able to really pay.

They were so amazed at my grades that they thought coming to this university was the best choice for me. They think I’m receiving the best education here. But like I keep saying over and over again, with what money?

I hate the fact that I even have to deal with these financial issues just to pursue a good education. Guess that’s colleges in the US.

I want to establish a work history soon, but I’m thinking about part-time instead of full-time. I do agree with you since I have basically zero work experience right now.

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While you’re at your dream school and you want to stay, this says enough right here!!!

Here’s the reality - there are 10 or 50 or 200 schools out there that would be wonderful for you. One you can’t afford, that you can’t pay your bills for or will stress yourself or your parents out financially is not your dream school.

Having loans you can’t afford (if you can even get) - when you’re going to graduate = trust me, this isn’t your dream school.

Lots of colleges - less expensive and more expensive - have public health. And when you graduate and have rent at $1200 or $1500 or $2000 a month, how will you afford to pay your loans…as you have a car, food, and more.

So right there - I promise you - this isn’t your dream school.

You also say you hardly have any friends - so again, why is this a dream school. i do agree with your parents that you need to put yourself out there - but joining a sorority also cost money.

Your life isn’t over yet - if you decide you want to be a lawyer, it’s great. If you figure it out in ten years, that’s fine too. You are not bound to do anything, etc. or maybe you’ll be a lawyer tied into healthcare - but law school will cost even more.

Here’s a lesson for life - you can’t do anything if you can’t afford to do it.

I’d love to stay at the Ritz Carlton on all my vacations. It’s my dream. Unfortunately I can’t afford it so I don’t.

Sure - I could charge a week on my credit card - but then I’d need a long time to pay it off, have to pay interest, and it would cost me even more!!

No different here.

Don’t just vent.

Put yourself in a proper situation.


Here’s another lesson for life: for every loan that you create, it reduces your future ability to:

  1. buy anything on credit
  2. buy a car (payment plan)
  3. buy furniture
  4. rent an apartment
  5. buy a condo/townhouse/house
  6. have a low credit card interest rate
  7. take vacations

So, if you don’t mind living with your parents, long term, and not being able to live independently, because you will be constantly working to pay off those loans, which continue to accrue charges with their high interest rates, then continue on with your dream college.

It does happen. It happened to my nephew who attended UCSD, even though he knew that his parents couldn’t afford it. He attended 1 ½ years and charged a computer and a number of items at the “bookstore”.

He soon ran out of money and didn’t know he had to officially withdraw, so he accrued an extra two quarters of charges. Room and board charges were on another bill.

His bills were sent to a collection agency. He lives with his parents, in a bedroom of their home, and borrows their cars to go to work. He has to ask his parents for money for gas.
He has poor credit, works as a salesman for an exterminating company, while supporting a non-working wife and kids (in a 1 bedroom!)

I don’t wish this scenario upon you, at all. Please consider and think about what your plan is for resolving this issue.


You sound as if you would like to be a public healthcare administrator! Can you add some relevant business classes to your major? I could see you starting out as an assistant to the administrator of a community health organization, get your MBA or MPH while your employer pays your grad school tuition. You don’t want to provide the healthcare directly, you want to be the administrator that makes it all happen! Our country needs people like you! The world needs people like you!

I would say that you have come so far on this path, you’re doing so well, and your intended major matches up with going into public health administration, that it would be a pity to quit now.

Go to the financial aid office at the college and beg for help. There may be an additional scholarship available due to your high grades. Do you get a Pell Grant? Do you get the subsidized federal loan? Can the college help? If you’re at a historically black college, I assume you’re African American. Look on the internet for scholarships! Approach local Black organizations (churches, local branch NAACP, United Negro College Fund), heck, write to Oprah and beg! Write to Black celebrities who support education and beg! I know that 10K/semester seems like an enormous sum to you, but it is peanuts in comparison to the value of getting done, and getting hired with a BA vs as a dropout. And you have a very appealing career goal, wanting to do public health. People will want to help you. Maybe a GoFundMe campaign? Maybe a human interest news story for the local paper/news station?

I get how you feel about the sorority thing, but your parents might be right. Networking helps you to go farther. The sorority will help you develop contacts, who might help with funding. I bet you that there are sorority alumni who’ve established scholarships for people like you.

Don’t give up! Beat the bushes for scholarship money.


While no debt is optimal, some amount of debt is reasonable.

Incurring $30,000 of undergraduate student debt can be reasonable if that amount is equal to or less than your reasonably expected first year of take-home (after-tax) pay.

HBCUs, and many other educational institutions, need federal student loan programs in order to survive according to their often stated position.

Public health is a good & growing field. Public health administration is a business major, not a science major.

How much debt do you think that you will accumulate during your period of undergraduate study ?

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OP- hugs to you.

I think you have a more immediate problem than figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life- I think you posted before that you owe money for the previous semester… your college (however wonderful they are) is NOT going to let you register for next semester if you have a balance due from past semesters. And I think you’ve also posted that owe your first college money, correct?

As much as you want to move forward (and we are all rooting for you) what’s the plan for the past due bills?


Are your parents now paying what you owe for the previous semester?

I wrote more last time but this time I will be direct: withdraw from the school, no more loans, work to pay debt off and during that time figure out a college path you can afford.

I would find a public alternative, and take two classes at a time while working for the next year. Unless you can transfer to a school that gives you a full ride or close to it.

You can major in anything and then get certificates to do what you want to do. (Check out UVM’s certificates for an example. Search - University of Vermont Professional and Continuing Education (uvm.edu) Community colleges are also resources post grad.


It sounds like you are in the same place you were on your initial thread. You owe your current school $10K for the first semester, and still have to pay second semester. Is that correct? How will you pay these bills? I don’t understand how you can get enough loans to cover them, as a junior you can take $7,500 in Federal student loans, that’s it. I can’t remember if your parents couldn’t qualify for parent plus loans…if not, then you could take out an additional $4K in student loans. Even if your HBCU provides access to more loans, I wouldn’t take out any more. How much have you already taken in loans?

It sounds like your family is also pressuring you to return to college, and I know you really want to as well. Have you shared your last thread with your parents?

@ChangeTheGame @econpop Do you have any words of wisdom for OP? Here is their original thread What can I do to afford an expensive university?


Hey @GoldenMindset, I lost my scholarship after my sophomore year at my HBCU 25 years ago and I was able to go back and take care of business, but there are some big differences. I was able to still co-op after losing my scholarship and saved $2500 and sat out a year and saved another $15,000 by saving pretty much every cent of my take home pay while living at home and taking up odd jobs during the year. I also had a pell grant, work study, a new small scholarship, and family help once I went back to the same school that helped pay the costs without taking out a loan and I made it those last 2 years, but the problem is that college costs have exploded in the last 25 years (my last 2 years cost $36,000 but that cost is now 50K a year). I have 2 kids in college currently on full scholarships at Howard University, so I understand how to find money laying around at HBCUs.

Finishing (even at a lower cost school) is more important than any other goal. Is it possible to do that at your current school without running up a lot of debt? Yes, but it is so much harder than just transferring to cheaper school where you will still probably run up some debt. Here are my keys to make things cheaper in future semesters:

  1. Apply to become a Resident Assistant (RA) at your school because it can save you the costs of room and board (That comes out to almost 15K a year at my kids’ school).

  2. Make looking up and applying to scholarships, summer internships, and internships during the fall and spring semester in your major a part time job (10-20 hours a week year around). Here is one of my favorite links to share.

  1. Get to know your professors well as they have provided both of my kids with major opportunities that involved $$$ because they were active high achieving students. Also become friendly with your major’s department chair and let them know of your plight. You might be surprised at the financial resources at the school’s disposal, even at a HBCU.

  2. Use skills that you already have to find “side hustles” that can bring in income that can help you sustain your life. My college room mate had a side hustle that he used to buy a new car on his own as a sophomore in college.

  3. Don’t be too proud to ask for help… I have seen GoFundMe pages of students at my kids school that have found a way to pay off debt to help those students graduate from college. I hope to get a chance to donate towards your goal (PM me if you ever set up a page)

  4. Keep your grades up so that all of the other suggestions (especially suggestions 2 and 3) can help you.

  5. Look into possible ROTC options if the military is something that you would be willing to consider. In my own personal situation, nothing legal was “off of the table” in my pursuit to continue school.

I know that staying at your dream school without running up a lot of debt seems impossible, but I have seen impossible happen a few times. Completing your degree is going to be hard, but just accept that fact and find a way (whether that is at your school or transferring to another) and make it happen.


Here are a few other helpful places to look for internships and scholarships in Public Health. The 1st two links have many great scholarship opportunities in public health and health care careers.



I’ve been talking with my parents, still no plan set in stone. They just keep encouraging to apply for private loans after I’ve said multiple times how I wouldn’t get it nor I would want to. They also said if I stay for this semester, I must live in a dorm because it’s too late to find an off campus apartment and figure out transportation (unless I magically get this together in about 2 weeks). I’ve been telling them it’s not financially smart to live in a dorm and have a meal plan if they are REALLY WILLING to take care of the past bill as well as this one.

I don’t remember if I stated this in my previous forum, but my family is going through a lot of issues right now. I don’t wanna consider us “poor” but we aren’t rich either. A family member is recovering in rehab right now from multiple surgeries. So basically, everything has been crazy lately. I’ve tried to wait for the time to bring this topic up, but everyone is more so focused on the family feeling better. It’s understandable, but I’m still trying to let them know this is a serious matter and school is literally starting soon—rather it’s virtual or in person.

I know a lot of people have been suggesting to withdrawal and get a job, but I am still thoroughly thinking this through before I withdrawal completely. I’d have to start a job hunt, be out of school, and face my whole family and answer them on why I’m not in school anymore. I’m 20 with 0 work experience, so yeah I will admit I’m nervous about getting ready to commit to a full time job when I didn’t expect to until I decided to graduate.

And to be honest, not knocking any college dropouts because college is not the end all be all, but I’m afraid that’s how I will be viewed, even though I’ll technically be going back to school. Yes I know most of you seem older and will tell me “it doesn’t matter”, but me being young caring of what others think of me is like a job of its own. But at the end of the day I understand I have to do what I have to do.

Classes start in 3 weeks and dorms open back up in 2 weeks. I believe this upcoming week the offices will be open again so I’ll attempt to make phone calls and maybe someone will answer the emails.

Thanks for the advice. I thought about a GoFundMe but didn’t feel comfortable letting everyone know, including friends and family, “hey, I need money for school.” Most people I know got scholarships and are gonna be seniors this year while I’m still stuck being a sophomore (even though I should be a senior in fall 2022!) with no scholarships and will probably be in mountains of debt.

I feel like wherever school I go, I’ll have to take out loans. Right now I think I’m almost $30k in loans from my previous university and my current one. I wanna stop taking out loans completely to be honest, but that’s make this even more difficult.

But again thank you for your advice I will keep all of those in mind. As well as the links.

I can’t remember exact numbers, but I had the loan, additional loan from the parent loan being denied, and a grant paying for this semester, but I’m still left at a bill over $10k. My parents are encouraging me to go back this semester, which I would love to as well, but I keep telling them that this past due has to be paid in order for me to register and then there will be another bill for the spring.

As far as I know, I believe I am almost at $30k in loans altogether from borrowing for my previous university and my current one.

Wow…thanks for giving the scenario. Really changing my way of thinking here. I love my family but I can’t live with them for the rest of my life. I barely have enough independence now as a 20 year old.

These posts show so much irrational magical thinking, that seem to be shared by the whole family.

It is possible the school will not allow you in the dorms if previous balance is not paid and balance for coming semester is still pending.

You already have $30k in loans, and owe $10k for last semester.

I can’t even find any more to say except that this whole scenario is extremely worrying. I hope you withdraw before incurring any more charges. You can take two classes at a state college and “still be in college,” while working part-time or more. LIving with your parents is a necessity unless you can earn enough to pay living expenses.

Will your parents pay off the $40k total already incurred or are you going to have to pay?


Can you take a leave of absence rather than withdraw? And then, since presentation of the situation is important to you, tell people that you wanted to wait until Covid restrictions were over so you took a leave instead, and are working in the meantime.


@compmom is dead on. Go part time…get a job.

You said you’d have to job hunt. Here’s a tip. Walk in anywhere from a Dunkin, Panera, McDonalds, Target, grocery store.

Don’t know where you live. I’m in TN. Dunkin starting at $16 an hour.

What a great time to be a kid. $7.25 has been replaced by at least $12 an hour and likely more. Go part time…find a school in state with a low cost of attendance for fall and make it happen.

Your mistake - transferring to a school you cannot afford. No reason to make that mistake again.

If you work 30 hrs - even if at two jobs - and take 2-3 classes, you can make $400 a week…at least…and start digging out of your hole.

Btw your idea of moving off campus…likely not much cheaper, likely requires a 12 months lease…and can your family pass a credit check because one will be done.

Everyone has told you the answer. Move on.

There’s no shame. You made a mistake. Time to correct it. Going to a community college and working is step one. Then we look for the affordable school in Fall.

One step at a time.


Do you know how many semesters/credits are remaining until you can graduate? An academic advisor should be able to help you see which degree you are closest to finishing, and that may be helpful information to have as you go forward.

How many semesters of college have you completed all told? Did you lose many credits when you transferred the first time?

Also, you said you are not really sure how much you owe. I think you need to get that all down on paper so that you have a full understanding of what your situation is.