My oldest son recently begun taking online college courses. Naturally, he is encouraged to do well, and that tends to be where the friction lies. He doesn’t want to be asked about school. This is mostly because his focus is elsewhere—whether it’s video games or going to work. We have come to a point where we have stopped asking…almost. We made him very aware that college is way different from high school, and he has to be on top of his coursework. In the end, we are skeptical he will succeed in the first semester. Those who have gone to college understand what that means, especially when it comes to funding.
It got me thinking about my rerun through college a few years ago. I did the work and became dedicated to getting my degree. Just like my son, I didn’t take my first year in college at 19 as seriously as I should have. However, I do wish I did. I shared that with him, too. His 19 and my 19 were vastly different in circumstances, but the mentality seems to be the same. Learning from my mistakes and experiences doesn’t seem to be working.
Going back to college in my forties changed me for the better—but, in the end, that’s all it did. There was no job waiting for me after earning my Bachelors Degree. There was no indication that a degree would even help. It is such a paradox. Companies want a degree-toting employee, yet having one guarantees you nothing. I’m not naive to think experience and knowledge isn’t a factor. In my experience, even a resume that matches a job description perfectly doesn’t get you any phone calls.
I tried pointing at things to blame. Was it my age? My last name—which was Spanish at the time of graduation? Was it because I took a few years off, not working, to raise my kids? Was it the field of study? I found that nothing I came up with was conclusive; only that having a degree really didn’t matter. I will clarify: it didn’t matter when getting a job, but it did for my own personal goals.
But, how do you persuade your children to go to college and get a degree to have the career they want when they know it didn’t work for you? I’m not sure. I will, however, continue to emphasize the immense feeling of gratification it gave me. I will expand on how I learned more about not only what already interested me, but gained other interests. I will tell them it taught me focus, patience, and perseverance. College heightened an appetite for knowledge.
This is the take-away I want for them.
I am a woman-child at heart; continuously evolving to find my place in life. I am a mother, a daughter, and a sister. I am a lover and a dreamer--an explorer and a traveler. But it's my passion for writing that allows me to explore my ingenuity. This is something that undoubtedly carries over to the many roles that make up the ever evolving woman I am.