I'll be 32 this year. This month I enrolled in college to finish my degree. I've changed it twice in the past. I've attended a brick-and-mortar college and then an online university—neither with much luck. The first time I was 18, the second time I was 24.
Both times I left from boredom, discouragement and not being emotionally mature enough to handle the first round. I saw it as a second time at high school—pointless and four years of suffering until I could get out.
I am incredibly thankful that neither time I finished up a degree in something I have zero interest in doing now. I'm also thankful that I waited this long to go back. I wasn't ready for college and career choices before this. In my experience, not many 18- to 22-year-olds are.
My views and tastes have changed drastically in the past decade, and what I thought I wanted to be then would make me a pretty discontent person right now.
Not having a degree hasn't impacted much in my life so far, until I figured out what my passion was over a span on five years. Writing, maternal health in the U.S. and foreign countries, grief and loss, childhood education—these things propel me to want to have a degree in order to move further in doing what I love. I have traveled all over the world, been a nanny for families who ended up impacting how I saw life outside of my own and met people who influenced me in ways I never dreamed.
I am a firm believer in education—so much so that I went from teaching to homeschooling my daughter. I believe college is a wonderful way to have the credentials backing up what you want to do.
However, if my daughter were to come to me about going to college right out of high school, I'd actually encourage her to wait. Work a few crappy jobs. Take a few classes at a community college for things that interest her. Apply to go overseas with a mission group or as an au pair.
I realize she may want to head straight to college, and that's fine, too. But I want her to know she has other options. She doesn't have to spend 40k in student loans to possibly find out, at 31, what she majored in isn't anything she wants to be. I don't consider my years in school wasted. But it was an expensive risk for a flighty girl who didn't know much about the world around her.
Now that I'm ready to do this? I can't wait to hold that piece of paper I've been thinking about for 13 years.