A reader writes:

I began working in the mortgage business in 2002. I started in an entry level position at a medium-large mortgage company not long after I dropped out of high school.

Back then I was a drifter who needed a job to help pay the rent for the new apartment my girlfriend and I just moved into. I was lucky enough to find an ad offering $15 per hour plus commissions with no experience necessary (I’m sure for many this speaks volumes about the current state of the mortgage market). It was a telemarketing job that I excelled at and soon worked my way out of and into a management role where I was to hire and train new recruits. After a couple years of that I was recruited by another company to be a mortgage broker and by 2005 I was making $90,000 per year at the age of 23.

Soon after came ‘the crash,’ where the lenders who mortgage brokers relied on began dropping like flies. By the end of 2007, business at our company was down by about 50%.

I was still making what I considered good money; I finished 2007 with a gross income of around 65k. I considered myself to be a very ethical, honest mortgage broker. Without attempting to sugar coat things, I worked with people who I knew were not ethical mortgage brokers. These other brokers were used to a far fancier lifestyle and needed to close loans to pay bills for their overly expensive habits. Some who, as the market deteriorated further, I could blatantly hear their pathetic desperation when they were too flustered to close their office door while selling snake oil to unsuspecting families. I became terrified that would happen to me. What if I was 40 years old with 2 kids? Could I ever be that desperate and pathetic? I needed to quit and find something else to do with my life.

Luckily for me I lived modestly in a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom house with my wife (the girlfriend from the apartment) who had a steady job with a decent income. Our living expenses were relatively low. I decided going to college was my only option. I knew that it would provide shelter for a long and painful recession.

I was a gargantuan failure in high school. Not graduating rewired my brain but left me with insecurities that grew exponentially with every passing year. I was terrified to go back to school. I began at a community college in January 2008 and after just a year as a full time student I have a 4.0 GPA and I’ve been accepted to several high quality Universities.

Without this recession I would have continued the path I was on until I had children, a bigger house, and other factors which could have quite possibly made it financially impossible for me to ever have gone to college. This recession has liberated me from the perpetuating academic and intellectual insecurities that have plagued my life since my failure in high school.

There is very obviously far more negative than positive inflicted on us collectively because of the current economy. I feel horrible for people, like my own parents, who have seen their life savings cut in half, if not worse, because of the recession. I worry about my brother who will be graduating into a bone dry job market this spring with a master’s degree and 90k in student loans. But I refuse to believe that America is going into the shit tank. I believe we will recover, like I recovered from not graduating high school.

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