Smarter Than I Thought by Stephanie Witt


WELCOME GUEST BLOGGER – STEPHANIE WITT, and her inspiring story about returning to school.


Going to college at eighteen years old may seem like the most exciting but scariest thing ever…returning to college ten years later is even more scary but equally as exciting!

At eighteen, I knew EVERYTHING, except what I wanted to do in life and how to help myself succeed.  I attended college away from home and got a true college experience: fun, friends, and some learning.  After mistakes, some bad choices, a few corporate jobs, and ten years, I have returned to college as a full time student.  I know now at twenty-eight that I don’t know a thing, except for what I want to do in my life and what makes me happy.  Attending school has been a huge change in my life, but more positive than I ever could have expected.

I now feel I’m one of the smartest students in my classes. Who would have thought? ! I sit in the front row, participate in class, do all my homework, and get straight A’s.  I wonder to myself, “Where was this person ten years ago?”

The truth is, how are we to know what we want to do when we haven’t truly been exposed to what the world has to offer? I didn’t have the knowledge I do now about all the possible jobs I could have based on my interests and skills.  Does anyone really know that they want to be a market research analyst at eighteen? No! But at twenty-eight, I can fully grasp what the job entails and why it fits me so perfectly.

How can we really expect teens in highschool to know what they want to be or exactly what major to choose at such a young age? I know there are many opinions on this topic, and people are on both sides of the fence.

But what I can tell you is coming back to school ten years later, after figuring out what I want, is the best decision I’ve ever made.  Although it’s much harder at this point, the rewards feel even greater.

  • Tammie Bailey

    As a student returning many years after high school, I echo your statements.although, I do feel that attending a university with many different majors gives people a chance to explore and find direction.

  • Nickscarnati1114

    Getting the “college experience” is something that most teens desire once they finish high school and in some cases it doesn’t always have a positive result. But in your case with being in the real world for 10 years getting a feel for what you don’t want to do with your life was a good learning experience even though those 10 years went by. So for myself as a student straight out of high school starting at WCC has been a good transition and even though I still don’t know what I want to do with my life transferring to a 4 year school next semester will hopefully help and expose me to other opportunities.

  • vack813

    I like this blog. I can relate in a way because I went away to school right out off high school but then was presented with a corporate job. I then decided to leave with out finishing my degree. I now find myself back in school at 24 finishing up my degree. I know what i want and find myself striving for A’s. When I was 18 all I cared out was the social aspect of college. I do find it more rewarding now then I did a few years ago but I’m not quite sure why. One thing I wish I would have done was attend WCC or a community college for my core classes because I wouldn’t be in so much debt and the education is the same to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

  • JerryStAubin

    This post speaks in volumes to me especially since I can relate to it! It always amazes me how no matter the amount of knowledge we may acquire, we can never attain the amount of wisdom we need without having to pay for it in the time of years. It is never both- knowledge and youth. There is a certain kind of knowledge that one can only grasp by experience. The school system(as you said) tries to rush the natural process by making us choose what we love before we realize this is what we love. In that time we shuffle through tons of mistakes while trying to get our vision in line. But what this world gives us is time for a second chance and after ten years , I am happy things have become clear for you and your goals. I am still sifting between the adversities of being young and figuring it out. But its a fun path we all must travel in order to learn who we are. Excellent post.

  • mvidaldelapena

    Many of us young adults do not know what we actually want to be just yet. We might study for something that interest us and then change our minds. I believe that one should first have an idea on what to major in, because if one just goes to college without knowing anything, it is a waste of money.

    I am currently in a community college studying for something that interest me, going for my associates degree I will not continue with my bachelors just yet, I might do like Stephanie did, return when I know what I want in life, and also when I have money and I am focused on what I want in my life, even if I am thirty years old.

    I feel that high school graduates follow a pattern, after high school we are forced to go to college because it is the right thing to do, or because our parents say it is the right thing to do. But if we are not ready, or do not know what we want, and we are just following the steps everyone else is doing, and we are just going to college to be with our friends, party and have a great college experience, why should we waste money on an education that we do not care or know about yet?

    In contrast of my friends, I graduated high school a few months after than them with my GED, I started College a few months after them, but yet I am graduating with my Associates Degree before them. They know what they like to study, but are not focused on what they want, and keep taking unnecessary classes and I instead, have a better idea on my life. I am not saying I am smarter than my friends or Stephanie, but I will consider better options and make smarter decision about college, my future and money.

  • Lisa Mastroserio

    I can relate to these thoughts very well. I went to a different before attending Westchester for a year and a half. I went to class and I didn’t feel like I was fully engaged in the classes I was taking. I decided that after a year and a half it was time to come home because it wasn’t what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be. After making that change I am now doing better in classes and although I still don’t know if I am 100% happy with the course I’m taking to my future I feel like I am much wiser in my experiences and narrowing down my skills and noticing what I like and what I want to do in my future.

  • Nicholas Esser

    Good for you!!! I can relate to this very much. I had no idea what to do with my life at 18. I also returned to school later, at 27. I often wonder wonder why I couldn’t do what I am doing now when I was 18 too. Life is funny how it works out. But I am grateful that I had the opportunities in life to get me to where I am now. I wouldn’t change my younger years for anything. But it would be nice to have my degree done by now. Best of luck to you.

  • Sarah Blanco

    I completely agree with Ms. Witt’s message in this post. I feel that this is something that should be taught before students graduate from high school. At my high school, there was a lot of pressure on students to pick a great college for your career. I admitted to my guidance counselor during my junior year that I really did not know what type of college I wanted to go to, what I wanted to major in, and what career I wanted for the rest of my life. My counselor responded by lending me a 3-inch thick book that gave brief descriptions of hundreds and hundreds of careers. I was overwhelmed.

    After looking through that terrifying book, I decided that I wanted to do something relating to arts, designing, and computers; like graphic design. So I applied and was accepted to a local college well-known for its art programs. After a year and a half of commuting to a school I didn’t feel like I fit into, and several introductory courses that did not interest me, I decided I no longer wanted to go to that college. So I submitted my application, and was accepted to Westchester Community College.

    Now, at 20, I am still not 100% sure of what I want to do. But I wish I could go back in time to my 16-year-old self and tell her that she has options. Don’t cave to the pressure from your high school and classmates to get into the best 4-year college. You can take a gap year, get a job, and get better insight into what you want to do with your life. Or go to a community college, where it’s cheaper and you have more options. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Do what is best for yourself.

    High schools definitely don’t teach students about all the options they have, and it is such a shame. There is nothing wrong with taking time to get to know yourself and what you want before you make a huge decision about college.

  • Isaac Mathew

    I could not have said it better! I wish this was my story and that I was the one asked to write it. Jeeez… I have to tell you how absolutely correct you are about teenagers and how clueless they really are. I dont think any kid at that age really knows what they want to be. Usually its from influences outside of himself/herself. Especially if you are a first generation Asian American. Has anyone seen that show “Fresh Off The Boat” ? Its about an Oriental Asian family discovering their way through a life in America. The oldest son, who is a young teen, possibly pre-teen, is the funniest character. He reminds me of myself in the 80’s and 90’s except that I am Indian Asian. If you haven’t seen the show you can catch it on