Seven Years of College Down the Drain

College. That place where mannequins come crashing through Friday night frat houses, and beer don’t cost nothing. Well, I may be thinking of Animal House, but college is like that, right? While my college experience was one of a kind, I cannot say that I have ever stolen a rump roast from the corner Piggly Wiggly. Or did I?


It started like this, graduated high school with honors, got accepted into a quaint Christian college, and the rest is history. For most maybe, but not for me. While I pursued mechanical engineering and swam for the school swim team, I never felt like I was home. A semester in, I decided that college just was not for me, so I quit school to work night shift at Amazon. It was a smart plan until about a month in I realized that manual labor did not sound appeasing for the rest of my life. Jumping back into the college plan, I took some classes at the local community college to work my way back into higher education. After 3 semesters, I transferred to a place called UNCW. Although it was not my first choice at the time (#1 PSU), I welcomed the university with open arms.

Two and a half years later, and I cannot believe that I am about to leave my home away from home. Having such a negative experience starting college, I had given up on finding the school that I could call my own.  Somehow, whether it was within my major, or the various student groups I became involved with, I now dread the day when I have to leave this home of mine. This school has given me so many opportunities to improve and better my communication skills.

Looking forward I am excited to see where everything that I have learned, from my time at UNCW and within the COM major, will take me. Fingers crossed I end up in the brewing or automotive industry.

Cheers to us, the class of 2015!


-Joseph Hines

16 thoughts on “Seven Years of College Down the Drain

  1. My friend went through the same experience as you. His first two years of college did not go well and he was eventually dismissed from school due to grades. He took a year off and realized how important his education was since he did not like the job he held at the time. Now, he has gone back to college as a computer science major and is more eager than ever to learn. Sometimes it’s good to take a break from school.

  2. I absolutely loved this post and hearing about your new-found love and belonging to UNCW. I just transferred to UNCW, from WVU, and I must admit it’s a hard transition especially starting out not knowing anyone. Something about this school has a way at making every one feel at home. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation!

  3. Dear Joe,
    Glad you found your home here at UNCW. I am still searching for the right fit. I think a lot of “finding the right place” has to do with involving yourself in the right groups at the right time. I strongly believe in getting involved with groups is a good way of making great friends. Thank you for sharing your experience. TOGA! TOGA!

  4. Joseph-
    I too transferred to UNCW about halfway through college. I was a Recreation Management and Policy major at my last school, but I transferred in to the Communication Studies major and could not be happier with my choice. I am only in my first semester and have learned so much about the study of communication. I love it here so far. Our situations just go to show that moving on to the next steps in your life doesn’t always go as planned and how it goes for the majority of people, but in the end you end up where you need to be.

  5. Cheers to you my man! At least along your journey you figured out what you like and do not like. This will allow you to maneuver your way through the rigorous grind that is the working class world. Not everyone knows what they want to be when they grow up. Some of the most interesting people I know still do not know what they want to do with their life. Some of them never grew up. I wish you the best as you enter into this new adventure of post college life.

  6. The fact that you have been there, in the situation where you don’t know exactly what your plan is, makes this piece very credible and intuitive. I like how you built up from the past to the present and the positive changes that occurred. Many can relate to your post especially college students. I also like the reference to “Animal House” it was appropriate and a great introduction.

  7. I can personally relate to your story. I remember graduating high school and was super excited to start my life. I had this great plan to go into the Coast Guard and become a rescue swimmer. Everything was looking up, but then I got that call and I was disqualified because of a minor knee issue. I hit rock bottom and did not see much to life. I eventually joined the YMCA as a counselor, and long story short through my success I decided to go back to school at Wake Tech. Eventually I got the courage to apply to a university, and Wilmington was my only application sent in. By the grace from our God above I was accepted and finally started seeing a clear light on my journey. I should have graduated last year with the class of 2014, but everyone goes at their own pace and I will be with the class of 2017! This city is amazing and will be a sad day when I must pack up and go. Thanks so much for sharing your journey, and for myself realizing I am not totally alone.

  8. Thank you for writing this! I had a very similar experience, and I feel the same exact way. I didn’t hate college my first try, but I did party my way out of it. It took me several years to make it back, but I could not be happier with the fact that I wound up at UNCW. I hope you end up where you want to be in one of those two fields! I’m only a junior and I’m already nervous about what I’m going to end up doing… but I’m also excited at the same time!

  9. I relate to this so much. The only difference between your story and mine is I never had the guts to drop out. So here I am 4 years later still chugging away at my college education. I’m glad things seemed to work out for you though friend.

  10. One of my best friends had to transfer to a different school after having a rough start, but it’s been a real positive change for him! I personally don’t think all the time you spend at a school is a waste if you drop out, as you still learned some things and probably got some redeeming lessons or memories out of the experience.

  11. One of my best friends had to transfer to a different school after having a rough start, but he’s adjusting to it pretty well! I don’t believe that all your time was wasted if you drop out of school, as you probably got some valuable lessons or memories out of the whole experience along the way.

  12. Joseph,
    My roommate experienced a story similar to yours. She went to two different colleges in her home state New Jersey and entered the “real world” for a short time before ultimately coming to UNCW. Now she is one of the most involved people on campus and has really made me feel at home at UNCW. Like me, my roommate is about to graduate in May and we both dread the day when we have to leave this home away from home as you put it.
    I hope your positive experiences continue throughout your career (hopefully in the brewing industry). Congrats!

  13. I loved this post! I was a transfer student here my sophomore year and UNCW has given me the college experience I always wanted. My freshman year I went to a small private college and realized that although I liked the intimate class settings and not having to deal with trying to find a parking spot, I was just not happy. UNCW has the location, the ideal class size, and some amazing people I am so thankful I’ve met. It may not be everyones ideal college because we lack the experience of a football team but we have other sports and more importantly the relaxed lifestyle of living on the beach.

  14. That is awesome that you have finally made it through college. What really caught my eye was the night shift at amazon, although I too do not want a physical labor job for the rest of my life, I would like to know how that job was

  15. I completely understand where you are coming from, and congratulations on making it back into school and seeing it through. I just recently was talking with my parents on taking time off from school to work and figure out it is exactly that I want to do with my life. After reading this blog however I see that working would not please me over being in school. I am glad that you posted this to help change my views somewhat by the way. I too have taken far longer than the “traditional” four years so I know exactly how you feel and congrats again on seeing it through.

  16. Joseph
    — I was in your same shoes about two semesters ago. I was a freshman at UNCP, and if anyone knows where that is located they will tell you there’s not much to do there. I had this whole idea of the experience of college being like “American Pie” or “Animal House” too. I think my ability to realize that my college I was attending just didn’t feel like home to me sparked something inside of me to find something better for myself. So I also stopped going to school and attended CCCC (Coastal Carolina Community College) in Jacksonville, and I was lucky to have the opportunity to attend UNCW through the Extension Program because I was a military dependent, it was really a wake up call in my life that I truly am blessed to have and I’m glad that almost a semester away from walking across that stage I can say that UNCW is my “home away from home.”

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