Wednesday, April 6, 2011

*E* Education

Education is a topic that is on my mind a lot. As a parent, it is so important to me that my children receive a good education at school, and that I am supporting that learning and providing education for them at home as well. I worry about the state of our education system because of the economy and all the budget cuts our schools are experiencing. I also worry about my children staying focused and realizing just how important their education is. That comes from very personal experience.

My school performance was average, but I know that I could have done so much better if I had just tried a little harder. I think I just had my head in the clouds a lot of the time, and I have to admit that I was always a bit of an underachiever. I went off to college with a boyfriend and no more motivation than I had in high school.

I have always been drawn to older people as friends (and spouses), and I think for some reason I just wanted to skip over my youth and become a full fledged grown up as quickly as possible. I dropped out of college after one semester.

All I could think about was getting married and becoming a mother. It was the only thing I wanted. I didn't feel career driven, and at the time I felt that the only reason I needed a college education was if I had a clear career path that would require a college degree to achieve. What I failed to realize, though, was that while I am not career driven, I am knowledge driven. And, I did not anticipate how much I would come to regret that decision to drop out of college.

I moved back to the small town where I grew up, and I did indeed follow my dreams of getting married and having children. But, I had put myself into a situation where there was little I could do to continue my education. My husband received promotions and was finding himself in a career that would provide well for us, but that meant that we couldn't move from the town we lived in, and the nearest college was 100 miles away. I watched as my brother and his wife made many sacrifices to continue their educations and as I witnessed them both receive their college diplomas I was so proud of them and yet, so sad for myself.

The years passed, and I had children to care for and a household to maintain. Even after we were able to move to larger towns where college classes were available, it would have been costly and difficult to balance family, and work, and school, I always just pushed it out of my mind. My children are the best things that ever happened to me, and I have never for a second questioned that I shouldn't have become a mother when I did. But, I do wonder what would have happened if I had pushed a little harder to change my life earlier. As hard as it would have been, there are plenty of people who make sacrifices and find a way to balance family and schooling. Why could I have not done it, too?

And now, here we are. My life is much different and actually even more complicated now than it was before my divorce and remarriage. But, my desire for more education has never been stronger. I feel like I am selling myself short. I feel like I am smarter and more capable than I have ever given myself credit for. But, I don't even know where to begin, and I still don't know if I ever will be able to go to college. The cost is still an issue, and of course there is the fact that I don't even live in one place all the time. It's not going to leave my mind, so hopefully someday there will be a solution that will allow me to make this dream a reality. And, if nothing else, I will use myself as an example to my children to never sell themselves short and to take the opportunities that they will be given. I never want them to feel the regrets that I do.


Amy said...

I hear you on this loud and clear. I started community college back in 1997 when Andy was a baby...and stopped in 1999 about halfway through (I was going part time and just taking classes that sounded interesting).

In 2006 I went back to school and finished my AA degree. It was super hard to juggle everything, but it was an amazing experience and I loved it so much!

Was it worth the student loan debt? I don't know yet. I know I won't be able to get full time work and really be able to start paying on it until Max is in 1st Grade, and having it (and previous student loans) hanging over my head is seriously stressful.

A couple things you might consider.

Attend one term and get excellent grades, and then apply for scholarships. I was able to get a full ride scholarship for my last year. I still got student loans though because I could. ugh

There are LOADS of scholarships for returning homemakers and women who put off college to raise families. Check into it.

Also, look for online degree programs from local colleges and universities. There are also hybrid programs where you can take some online classes and some on campus classes. I loved the interaction of other students and having the interactivity of the classroom environment. But as a person juggling loads of responsibilities, the online options were imperative and helped out a lot.

If you think you want to get a 4 year degree, consider spending the 1st 2 years at your local community college (cheaper!).

If you truly do just want and crave the college education but not necessarily the college experience, check out this book "The Art of Non-Conformity" It talks a lot about how get the college education without the expense and burden of going through the experience. Check it out!

Jennifer said...

Thank you for all the good advice, Amy! I really have no idea if or when I will actually be able to make this happen, but I never stop thinking about it. If I do start, I know I will start with community college and see where it goes from there. In the meantime, I just keep trying to surround myself with interesting and intelligent people and learn as much as I can on my own. The Art of Non-Conformity looks great...thanks for sharing!!!!

Laura said...

I, too, always wanted to go to college (went to one of those secretarial-type schools). It just never happened. Now I have the time, but not the money! :-) At 50, I've kind of decided that that I'll get my education through reading and writing. And that's what I'm doing now.

Elayne said...

Hi Jennifer,
This is Elayne from the A-Z challenge. Just read your post on education. You and I have a very similar story, I am just further down the path of life.
I too, dropped out of college after one semester. I have had 2 opportunities to go, once from my parents and then my husband when we first married.
Like you, i wanted to be a mom first and foremost and that is what I did.
Fast forward 26 years and 3 kids later, I have at times wondered if I made a mistake by not taking the opportunity when I had it. But raising my boys is absolutely the best thing I have ever done:)
Once they were grown, the opportunity came again to go to college. Facing some serious health issues I choose to become a Personal Trainer and now have a small but growing business.
It all worked out in the end and I have made an effort throughout my life to educate myself and make sure my kids received a good education. All who have gone to college and now onto their masters.
Best wishes to you on your education journey!

Noemi said...

College is not the only place where you can get knowledge.
I also regret sometimes not going to university, but i managed to get the job I wanted on one of the top Interior design business in London, and that was with only studies in art school, and few courses here and there.
And now that I am a mum of two great daughters I am setting my own business from a jewelry designer!
You just need to know where do you want to go and head on that direction. Good luck on making the right decisions.

Anonymous said...

Maybe to start, just enroll in one class. One. Not very expensive and not too much of a time burden. A few months into it, you'll have a couple of credits to your name and might decide to enroll in another for the following semester. Who knows. Maybe the opportunity to go full time will come, maybe not. By taking little steps, you'll be able to get wherever you want to go.

I wish you the very best!