I began my journey to start college very reluctantly. It costs money, it sucks up all your time, the homework deprives you of your sleep and tests wears you paper-thin; apparently, you gain like fifteen pounds because you don’t even have the time to take care of yourself, and after you get your degree…sometimes you can’t even get a job. Oftener, you wind up in a field completely unrelated to your degree. So is it all for nothing? All of that time and money and effort out a bay window you’ll never revisit? I used to think so. And I actually do know people who have jobs in fields their degree has nothing to do with. I myself am planning on getting a degree in something I don’t know that I’ll ever get a professional job using.
Here’s why. Today, especially in the line of work I want to do (freelance writing, copywriting, event planning, etc.), the kind of degree doesn’t matter half as much as the degree itself. In whatever. Just going to school and graduating in something–anything–makes you more valuable as an employee because it proves you’ve been committed to something big, you followed through with a decent performance, and you achieved it.
Don’t get me wrong, in many lines of work degrees matter. If you wanna be a doctor, definitely go to medical school. If you want to be a certified psychologist, PLEASE go to school and figured that shit out so you can teach the rest of us. My boyfriend wants to be an engineer. That dream can’t be achieved without an education in sundry different things, so he’d better go to school.
The thing with me is I wanna be a homemaker. I want to be a mommy and a wife, and do some flexible jobs on the side to keep busy and engaged with myself, and before then I certainly wanna be a lot of other things too–but I don’t see the sense in pouring a huge amount of time and money into a career that is going to be short-lived, and which is only a means to an end. Therefore, I’m not going to be a doctor or a psychologist or an engineer. Besides, the things I’m best at are the arts. Public speaking, theater, dancing, singing, writing music, writing stories, writing persuasively, cooking and baking, creating things, making pretty things, organizing, planning… How do I get a degree in all that?
I recognize that I can’t. I also recognize that a ton of those things aren’t marketable talents because they just can’t make a living wage, or because I’m not passionate or talented enough at them to make me a living wage. Here’s what I am gonna do though.
- Get an Associates Degree in English. I like writing and I’m practiced enough at it that I think I’ll be good at it and that even when I’m challenged I’ll be able to appreciate it rather than struggle through something I don’t truly love. The degree could help me get hired at a few jobs, and it will give me credibility should I ever pursue any freelance or business writing. It will also enable me to charge a reasonable sum of money should I become an english tutor.
- Take some art, dance, theater and music classes. (Mostly for my own enjoyment, but ya never know, maybe I’ll end up on Broadway.)
- Take some public speaking classes and involve myself in private coaching for college competitive forensics. I’ve done a lot of that in high school already, and I enjoy it.
- Take a business class to familiarize myself with how corporations work to better market myself in administrative work, and/or get a better idea how to start my own business, should I ever fancy doing so.
- Take America Sign Language. Mostly because a foreign language is required for an Associates Degree and I already took it in junior high, but also because I could tutor others in it and do some interpretive work should I become good at it.
- Learn what I should’ve learn in high school. Like Algebra, and Physics, and Geography, and History. Because I want to be a more well-rounded person and don’t want to be handicapped by my home-school education.
- Apply for internships in event planning to see if I’d be interested in doing that sometime in the future.
- Ask God what He has planned for me. What does He want me to do? Things change fast in my life, and if I kept switching things up, wearing dozens of different hats at different jobs, I honestly wouldn’t hate that.
To change the subject a bit, so many people have asked what on earth I did for a year and a half not being in school. It’s as if high school graduates are incapable of anything productive if they’re not attending college. Let’s look at a list, because I believe I’ve had the time of my life, despite all of the pain and growing up I’ve had to deal with due to events in my life that I had too much free time on my hands to ignore any longer.
Since I graduated high school last year, Here’s what happened.
I went official with my boyfriend (which was a big fucking deal), visited Disneyland, and got a job as a wedding gown designer’s assistant, which was only temporary because after the internship I realized it wasn’t my thing. I went on a two week trip to Saint Croix with a friend and her family and checked scuba diving, snorkeling, paddle-boarding, horseback-riding in the ocean, and drinking (the drinking age there in 18) off my bucket list. (I didn’t like alcohol and by the end was ordering virgin drinks because I’m a pussy. Whatever.) I dealt with a shitload of drama from my family about giving me the freedom to make my own life decisions and made every effort possible to move out until I finally gave up and went to counselling instead. I spent a lot of time working on my heart and my relationship with God and my parents. God slowly began healing my heart. He gave me reasons to be alive, and helped me stop wanting to die. Instead, I began saving money to make a life for myself and move on.
I started coaching competitive speech for my old forensics team occasionally, and wrote a curriculum for a day-long speech camp I didn’t end up using. Then I landed a job as an English as a Second Language tutor for five foreign exchange students. That lasted 3 months, up until they joined a class that was more economic for their needs. I saved enough money to buy my first car and got my drivers license the day before Thanksgiving so I could visit Jake and have dinner with his family (we live a good distance from each other). I then became a regular nanny for this adorable baby who reignited my desire to have children even though they take over ones body and once born produce all of these disgusting fluids for others to clean up. I came to a fork in the road with my boyfriend and we chose to stay together even though it was harder than separating. (Relationships are really, really hard.) My nannying job ended after about 2 months, even though it was supposed to last 6, because the baby’s mom got pregnant and couldn’t afford to pay me any longer.
With two weeks notice, I headed out with my resume to the local mall and got an on-the-spot interview at Dreyer’s Ice Cream in the food court, and was hired officially a week later as the ice cream scoop girl. In the meantime, I realized this last January that college was going to be necessary; furthermore, I was going to need to pay for it myself. I began putting most of my money aside to pay for tuition, and I applied for FASFA. I applied for the community college I wanted, and began planning for test-taking and Freshmen classes. I read a book on how to be smart about college, and I frantically tore through three entire Saxon math books playing catch-up on all of the math I should’ve learned in high school so I wouldn’t have to take a dozen math classes just to graduate. (I shit you not, the time that used to be Netflix in my life became math, and it was partly hell, but then I started to like it, which was a totally weird phenomenon.) I invested a lot of money in a good laptop and a backpack, got early registration for the classes I wanted, and bought all the textbooks I needed on Amazon for cheap because highlighted pages aren’t a thing I’m snotty about.
My relationship with Jake became really serious a few months into it. I began really investing time in his family and I took two trips to Oregon for his brother’s college graduation followed by his wedding. I applied for a Wedding Planner internship that didn’t work out.
But that was good, because all of a sudden I got really sick and thought I had developed diabetes (Damnit, Dreyers) but the doctors told me nothing was wrong despite that I knew something was up. The medical industry having failed to give me answers, I turned to natural medicine, read some really good books, dealt with an almost binge-eating disorder before it became a problem, and changed my diet in an effort to become healthy again.
A few months later, I helped a family move to a different house, then began to consistently organize and house-keep for them. Once their entire house was unpacked, I helped nanny their three kids, partly home-schooled their daughter, and eventually settled into house-cleaning and preparing meals for them 25 hours a week. Once that became a contracted agreement, I quit working at Dreyer’s (5 months there and I’d learned as much as I could’ve anyway) and began doing that full time. It was really, really hard to work while I was sick–low energy, stomach reactions to almost everything I ate, feeling like I was gonna throw up a lot, some constipation–but my job was very flexible and understanding, and I was able to take the time I needed to deal with my health problems. Plus, I really love what I do, so it was easier to struggle through the pain to keep on doing something that I liked while also making money. Working there enabled me to save my entire estimated college expenses, which is fortunate, because I got an email from FASFA last week saying I wasn’t eligible for any financial aid because I live at home and my parents are expected to contribute to my tuition. …Which they don’t. But oh well. Total responsibility allows for total control, which I can appreciate. I can do what I want with my classes on my own nickle. Anyhow, that was depressing to find out, but it’s okay. And with my health, now I’m almost back to normal. Good thing too, because…
I start school tomorrow. I’ve rearranged my work schedule to be 10 hours a week only and the rest of my time is being dedicated to my 14 units. I attended a Freshmen class at my school last Monday where I sat through a series of lectures, one of which talked about having the right kind of priorities throughout school. The speaker compared them to spokes on a wheel. The more spokes you’re responsible for, the harder the time you’re going to have focusing on what’s really important. Being pulled in so many different directions at once makes going anywhere fast a real challenge. Looking at my life’s current priorities, I listed mine.
- Maintaining a relationship with God
- Keeping healthy relationships with Jake and his family and my family
- Taking care of my health (sleep, the right foods, respite like music and art to keep me sane)
- Maintaining my grades and expanding my education
I’d also like to make a few friends along the way so I can have some study buddies and people to talk to, because the rest of my friends have all gone off to different schools or are still in high school and we don’t really keep in touch. That’s not a priority though. Just a perk.
Aside from decorating some notebooks, picking up some pencils from the Dollar Tree, and frantically going through some math problems today, I’m as prepared as I know how to be. I even recently got glasses so I won’t get headaches from reading for too long, and I went shopping for “back to school clothes” like I was going to freaking fifth grade and wanted to look cool so I could make some friends (which isn’t so far from the truth). I’m freaking out because for whatever reason I can’t find the syllabus for my classes online and I’m worried there’s some before-class homework nobody’s bothered to tell me about.
I’m gonna pee my pants I’m so nervous because I’ve never been to school. I did go to kindergarten, but that hardly, hardly counts. In kindergarten I could only wear ugly uniform colors of navy blue, black, red and white, but I wore mostly just black because I was convinced I would be an FBI spy when I grew up and wanted to look the part. I earned smiley-faces when I was good each day so I could get lollipops from the prize box every ten days, and I tried to be good and not fight over the crayons. I chased a silly boy around the schoolyard because I thought he was cute, but never actually mustered up the courage to talk to him. Kindergarten was dumb. In kindergarten, I was dumb, and I learned very little. Most notably, in kindergarten, I wasn’t worried about performance, and my goal wasn’t to get good grades. I don’t even remember if I was graded at all.
So college is different, and I have no experience doing anything remotely like it. Cross your fingers and wish me luck. Send up a prayer to whoever, because this homeschooler is gonna need all the help she can get.