Opinion: Final semester: Why I’m leaving SIU without a diploma

By Erin Denae Douglas, Design Chief

I was a college dropout from the beginning, with an ending no one could see coming.

I started school at SIU in the fall of 2015 and everything was going great. I was doing well in my classes and while I wasn’t making any new friends, I accepted that being a commuter student it would be harder for me to do so.

The next semester, everything started going downhill due to some mental and physical health issues that came out of nowhere.

Advertisement

My grades slipped and I was put on academic probation for a year before basically being forced to drop out for a semester due to a lack of financial aid.

I spent a full year of nonstop classes at John A Logan, a community college a town over in Carterville, IL. While I was there I met a good friend and a teacher that would later get me a job back over at SIU.

When I transferred back to SIU in late 2018, I decided to permanently change my major from Cinema and Photography to Communication Design, which is the field my new job was in.

I hadn’t made it very far in my first major credit wise, so I didn’t think it’d be a huge problem switching majors in what should’ve been my senior year of college.

Flash forward to later the next year, I decided this would be my final year of school. I’m still not allowed financial aid and I’m barely making ends meet with tuition and other bills. It’s just not worth it.

I love my job at the DE, as stressful as it is. I love the friends I’ve made here and in my classes. I love the atmosphere of Carbondale with its punk rock roots of the 80s still shining through and the many shrines to Bucky Fuller’s incredible architectural designs.

The love I feel towards everything isn’t enough to make me want to stay. The classes felt too long and basic for my skill level and it felt like I was punishing myself instead of getting a degree.

School felt useless to me and I felt that I should finish out my year at the Daily Egyptian, for the experience and to not make other people’s jobs any harder in my absence.

I recently got engaged to my girlfriend, Savannah. She’s so incredibly beautiful, inside and out and I’m so excited to move in with her in Missouri this May, immediately after I drop out. That’s another big reason for me dropping out— to be with my long distance fiancé I love so much.

In hindsight, the paper would’ve gotten along just fine without me at this particular point in time. I did mostly paper design/layout, with a little bit of graphics and advertisement production. 

We just got news that the print edition would not continue through the end of this semester. It’s bittersweet for me, print was stressful as hell and if I’m honest, I feel a bit useless doing work from home that’s not anything related to printing the paper.

It all feels so weird.

With the recent COVID-19 outbreak canceling classes, graduation commencement and various events both on campus and around the world, things have felt very strange. It’s like one of the apocalypse dreams I often have, except I don’t wake up.

I didn’t know that the last week before spring break would be my last time in a classroom, none of us did. That’s just the strange timeline we’ve all been given.

I didn’t know that the paper printed last Tuesday would be the last one I’ll ever make. I didn’t know the last time I’d see my friends was a week ago when we played Jackbox together on my couch. No one could have known.

I almost feel like I should’ve seen something like this coming given the chaotic start I had back in 2015. Stacks on stacks of strange events leading to endings and beginnings at the same time.

This is the end of my college career, on the tiny couch in my apartment trying to finish classes online so my tuition money doesn’t go to waste. It’s terrifying and a little exciting and I couldn’t have asked for a better time to drop out of school.

Hopefully the virus is either gone or not as big of a threat by then so my fiancé and I can feel like our life together is finally starting. Our happy home with our two cats, Carter and Envy. Buy too many plants that will inevitably die, watch awful movies together. Laugh and cry. Be together.

I already have a job lined up in Missouri, not in my field but something to help me get by until I can get a graphic design job. Maybe I’ll stay in newspaper or magazine design. Maybe I’ll go back to school some day, maybe I won’t.

This world has thrown some crazy things at me since forever, so I wouldn’t count anything out.

Design chief and honorary senior Erin Denae Douglas can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram at @cornbab.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

Advertisement