"I want to be my own design" Clive Barker - Imajica

Thursday, April 2, 2015

musing on the college experience (or lack thereof)

Growing up I never thought that college was an option to me, I always thought it was too expensive, that I couldn't get in with my shitty grades and ultimately that I would fail at it, much like I felt that I had failed in so many other ways, not the best attitude to have at 17 but there it is.

Part of me dreamed of college as an escape. A way to get away from my mom, from my home, from Colorado Springs. It's not that I thought that college was the be all, end all, or even the only way to escape but I envied my friends who I felt had more advantages, who had more nurturing and supportive families, and more encouragement to get out and do their own things, to get educated and in the end to get better jobs and better lives.  I had it in my head that I would always be some uneducated yokel, living in a shitty apartment, in a town I hated, working a dead end job because I wasn't capable of improving my lot in life.  (Wow its really depressing when I start to think about how much I loathed myself and my life back then)

I think maybe for most people, college is their first time really being independent. It's their first time taking care of themselves, of having to try and make new friends, live in an unfamiliar place, and dealing with having to be a semi -adult. But for me, we moved every year so it felt like I was always the new kid even though we were always in the same city. I'd been a latch key kid since I was 7, I worked 2 jobs, I started paying rent when I was 16, I moved out when I was 18. I paid for my own car, I lived my own life, I was independent and for the most part I loved it.

I think part of the romance of the idea for  me was the  moving away, out of state, away from the Springs and all the baggage and negativity the place held for me. The chance to start over, where I wouldn't be known as Fatty Patty, where there weren't people who pretended to be my friend just to play jokes on me. A chance to be a different me.

And here is where the joke is on me and what took me years to realize and understand.

It took me awhile but I moved out of the Springs, I got a good job and then I got a better job. I've lived alone, I've lived with roommates, I've lived with partners.  I have a great life and I became so much more than 17 year old me thought I ever would, and I did it all without the college "experience".

Now don't get me wrong, I'd still probably go to college to get a degree especially if I felt that it would benefit me professionally but the college experience as an adult is far different than that fresh out of high school experience.

Did you go to college right out of high school? What do you think you got out of that experience, what did you like about it, not like about it? Why did you end up making the choice to go to college? Or was it something your parents wanted you to do? Do you use your degree?

 Inquiring minds want to know.

1 comment:

  1. I went to college pretty much right out of high school. It was just what you did. I joined the Navy reserves to help pay for it, so spent the summer after graduation in basic, and then straight to UNC. I went to the University of Northern Colorado, because I wanted to be a teacher,,, and I got in- my grades weren't all that great. My first year was tough. My second year was incredible. I was part of a huge group of friends, which was a first for me. We all decided to transfer to CU, and of course, I was one of the few to get in. I panned to go back to UNC, but by the end of my first semester- I'd met my first ex-wife. I switched to History from Education, because I wasn't interested in the discipline heavy teacher courses. I also worked in the library- which I've done since. I think my experience was not the party stereotype, although we did go out a lot, because I put myself through college, working 30-40 hours a week. I did love most of my courses, but had trouble with the language, which made it rough. I also really loved being on a large and beautiful campus- belonging to an academic community. As it took me nearly 15 years to get back and get my MA, I wish I'd worked a little harder. As far as using my degree- yes and no. I didn't need it to get my position at the library, but it's become central as my job has changed.