Going into my freshman year of college, I had the opportunity to move onto campus a week early being that I was a college athlete on scholarship. Living out life on campus as a freshman was really fun and eye-opening: meeting new friends, going to a common area for food and feel included in the here-and-now, and getting to hang out and go to events were things I looked forward to for years as a high schooler.

Photo by Scott Webb

After my freshman year and after transferring to a new university to continue my education, I began to understand how important it was for me to have a part-time job. It was time for me to learn to become more independent and to pay for things on my own, regardless of the fact that I was living with my parents and commuting from home. Having a job and a credit card payment were the first steps.

From there, I moved on campus at my university and began to have to buy my own groceries. Gas was always a purchase I needed to make for myself since finding work, but groceries and necessities for myself were things I learned to buy myself with my own earned money. Once that was established, I began having credit card problems. At this point, I haven't joined a sorority as I had desired to and wasn't a part of any extracurricular or athletic programs. All I knew to do with myself was to go to work and go to class. That was my entire schedule each week with little time for anything else.

Photo by The Climate Reality Project

Moving into my first apartment with roommates seemed like a really nice upgrade. It was a step up from living on campus, but the expenses came with it. At this point in my college life, I've obtained a new car and have monthly payments, a credit card to still worry about, and down the line, I rescue a cat and pay for his supplies and veterinary bills.

Moving out of this apartment into a new one, I have higher rent to pay partially for, utilities, a monthly veterinary subscription, a credit card, a car, and groceries and gas. I still am only part of one chapter at my university, and it's for a women's college magazine that I can hardly ever make time to show up to meetings for. I write for the Orlando Odyssey, and I work 2 jobs and am a full-time college student. I have little to no time to ever relax or do leisurely activities in my favor and struggle to make time to see my boyfriend, family, and close friends who care enough to see me when I'm available - when it's not just convenient for them.

I have lost the college feeling to my dismay, and I feel as if I put my work before school sometimes. I live paycheck to paycheck and go to class like it's a chore. I haven't been able to enjoy myself in a genuine way, and I crave the college experience. The fun, outgoing, and relaxed college feeling. The experiences that I've been missing out on are things that I won't be able to get back since I'm now a senior and will be graduating in the next year… there isn't anything that I can do except wishing I could have been a part of it all.

Thanks, influencers, those of you who have always posted about how great your sorority is and how much fun you're having out drinking and partying. Sincerely, Shari.

Photo by Kelsey Chance