Anthony Davis parks a customer’s car in the Max Hotel’s garage in downtown Seattle Saturday. Davis works two hotel jobs to support his education.
A year ago, Anthony Davis’ life resembled that of many students. He was living near campus, working a part-time job and taking classes for his major. Now, Davis works
two full-time jobs and has withdrawn his admission from the UW.
“I did the loan thing for awhile, and I took out a UW short-term loan when I couldn’t pay them back. That’s when I decided I couldn’t do this any longer,” the former sociology major said.
Davis’ father was laid off January of last year, prompting his mother to return to school, and she is now working to support her family.
“We have a large family who still has lots of needs, so basically, I support myself,” said Davis, who is from a family of six.
He took on two jobs because it was too difficult to juggle even one full-time job and three classes at the UW. Davis works at Hotel Max and Homewood Suites.
“I have been working so much to pay off the past debt, and getting a job is way harder than it used to be. I am not working anything glorious; whatever is available is available,” he said.
“There’s a lot of people who come to school or are just fortunate to have parents who can afford it. So all you have to focus on is your studies, but there’s lots of other people who have to work, and it takes a toll on your grades and social life and college experience,” Davis said. “My weekends are basically nonexistent.”
Last school year, 552 students withdrew, with another 130 students withdrawing during this past autumn quarter. Students can withdraw for a variety of reasons, including financial, family or medical-related, and military commitments.
“I withdrew from the UW in of October of ‘09, and I was gone for the remainder of the quarter,” student Ryan Sieber wrote in an e-mail. “I was forced to withdraw due to my depression relating to my disease cystic fibrosis.”
During his three months out of school, the sophomore spent a majority of his time watching TV. He resumed taking classes in January but finds the school’s location and composing papers a challenge.
“The only major struggles I have faced since returning are that my ride to UW takes an hour both ways as I ride the bus from Woodinville to the U-District,” he wrote. “The other struggle is remembering how to do essays, as I took nearly seven months off.”
Virjean Hanson Edwards, the deputy university registrar at the UW’s Office of the Registrar, said the most common reason she hears from students who want to withdraw is work.
“Work is the problem; a lot students have to work a lot of hours,” she said.
When Cyrus Naimi started taking classes at the UW, his parents paid for his tuition, and he was responsible for his housing at Delta Tau Delta fraternity. But as the economy grew worse, Naimi became responsible for more and more of his schooling fees.
To do this, Naimi took a job working the front desk at the Courtyard Marriott on Westlake and also has a job as a teller at Bank of America. He didn’t take out any loans, and he received no aid, because his parents did not want him to incur debt.
As a result, he had to move home during the winter quarter of his sophomore year and began commuting. “There is no parking anywhere. Because I didn’t want to pay for parking under Kane, I tried to rely on street parking. I got six or seven parking tickets and missed class ‘cause of this,” he said.
Commuting cut his social life in half.
“It was really hard to come hang out with people. It was harder than I expected. I definitely didn’t go to as many events and activities once I moved out,” Naimi said. “I don’t really know any new guys in the fraternity. Because I don’t hang out as much, I am losing it. It’s a little embarrassing.”
Naimi now attends Shoreline Community College and believes there are financial benefits to attending community college for the first two years of one’s degree.
“One class at UW is more expensive than all three of my classes at Shoreline,” he said. “After going to community college, I definitely realized as great as it was at UW, I wish I would have taken my first two years at community college; you can work to save up money, get good grades, and save your family money.”
Robert Rhodes, the assistant registrar at the UW’s Office of the University Registrar, said a student can withdraw for a quarter and still be considered a continuing student the next quarter. It’s when the student withdraws for two consecutive quarters that he becomes a returning student.
Returning students must fill out a returning-student form and pay a $60 fee. Rhodes said the office receives returning-student applications for a variety of reasons.
If the returning student has a low GPA, has been absent from school for several years, does not have a major but has too many credits, or dropped for low scholarship, the office directs them to an adviser at the Gateway Center in Mary Gates Hall.
Peg Cheng, an academic counselor at the Gateway Center, said a lot of students take time off. The Gateway Center mainly works with students who haven’t declared their majors.
“We try to be available to students we call ‘returning students.’ We meet with them for half-hour appointments and discuss which classes they should take,” Cheng said.
Like Edwards, Cheng also has found that work is the most common reason students have to leave school.
“It’s almost always something nonacademic,” Cheng said.
Cheng and the other advisers at the Gateway Center want to inform students about their options.
“It’s totally okay to take time off if you have to,” she said. “What students don’t realize is they can take a quarter at a time off as long as they are in good standing with at least a 2.0.”
Cheng said she has seen students who have made themselves work 40-hour weeks and are doing badly in school, and they didn’t realize they could take time off, because they thought the university would drop them.
“If you’re having personal issues, talk to an adviser and figure out options,” she said. “In the long run, a lot of students find taking time off helped them.”
If the student has a major, it is recommended he speak to an adviser in the appropriate department.
A student in this situation will always be considered a student of the UW, unless he acquires a degree from somewhere else.
Both Davis and Naimi plan to return to the UW. Davis hopes to be back this spring, while Naimi is shooting for next fall. As of now, their financial game plan remains the same as before; they are simply hoping for the best.
“As long as you finish with a degree from the University of Washington with a decent GPA, in reality, that’s all your employer cares about,” Naimi said.
Reach contributing writer Breanna Lai at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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