Why I Chose To Finish College Early


Eri Leong

Although I will finish my last semester of classes by December, I have to wait to physically graduate in May.

Graduating from college is viewed as an exciting time — and it is — but people often avoid talking about the anxiety that comes along with leaving school and entering the “real world.” Anxieties about getting a job, moving out on your own, and supporting yourself are stressful enough in a normal year.

We’ve spent our entire lives with academics being a priority, so what do we do when the day comes and we’re not in school? Should we go to grad school? Do we look for jobs? Marriage? Buy a house? Most of the time, we don’t even know what we want to eat for breakfast the next day, and now we are expected to exist in society after graduation.

It’s the arrival of adulthood.

The idea of making our way through life independently can be scary, yet for me, graduating and being on my own is what I’ve been looking forward from the very start of my college career. 

When I first started studying Communications toward my bachelor’s degree at Chaminade, I knew I wanted to work in news broadcasting and reporting, but all of that changed last year when I decided to commission into the United States Air Force.

In October, I attended my aunt’s Air Force retirement ceremony at the Pentagon. She retired as a Chief Master Sergeant (E9) after 28 years.

It sparked my interest after I started to work closely with the military last year and completed an internship over the summer with the Air Force on Hickam as a civilian. In just two months there, I met two four-star generals and worked on military aircraft.

I grew up with four members of my family in the Air Force so with their influence and success, it only encouraged me to want to do the same and become a leader.

Ever since deciding to go the military route, I have been focused on the future and preparing to become an Air Force officer. There is an eagerness to finish school because there is another chapter of my life waiting for me. 

I have lived in Hawaii for eight years now, and it’s time to leave and begin another journey elsewhere. That’s the only scary part. It’s always been just my mother and I moving across the world while she was in the Air Force. Now, it’s my turn to move alone. 

I’ve always been told, “don’t rush to grow up” or “the real world isn’t going to be any easier,” but for me, going into the real world and starting my military career is exciting. My days of living in Hawaii and going to class every day are starting to become repetitive, and I feel as if I have no purpose anymore.

Finding your purpose or your dream career doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey that requires mental goal setting, a routine, and accountability.

I’ve encountered so many people who graduated college without a plan, but I have a plan and know what I want to do after finishing the semester this December.

I am ready to move on.