I chose to leave college when I was nineteen. Countless people disapproved of my decision. I was told I was too smart, I was wasting my potential, and I was simply making the wrong choice. Bear in mind, I was in the Honor’s College at a well-respected university. This is not something to be given up lightly. Yet, I was not ready for college. To be completely honest, I was overwhelmed. The costs, the sheer volume of class choices, the freedom, and the expectations were abundant. Trying to work, go to school, and form an adult life for myself was difficult for me. I was miserable.
I quit school and went to work. The job hunt was tough, but I knew I was smart enough to find a way. I found a job with decent insurance and threw myself into it. I moved out of my parent’s house. I started to build a savings account and a retirement account. This was not an easy route to take, but I felt like I was able to grow more and become more of an adult than my peers who were in school.
As time went on, I got married, bought a house, and had a child. School was occasionally a thought, something I would research. It never went far though, it wasn’t really a priority. I moved on to another job with a little better pay and insurance. I moved from there to a part time job so I could spend more time with my family. We decided it was time to move a little closer to our old homes, so the added free time was nice. It gave me time to pack and prepare our house for sale.
In the midst of packing and moving, I proofread a paper for a friend at work. As I was doing this, I felt a longing. I found I was longing for papers, studying, and assignments. I wanted to learn.
I went home to tell my husband. He watched our son while I immediately got online to do some research. I knew exactly what I wanted, an online program I could work on whenever, around my son’s naps, mealtimes, and my job. I wanted something inexpensive that I could cover with government grants offered to lower-to-middle income families. I knew I should jump in while I felt ready.
I chose a local community college with low tuition, flexible programs, and different options for adult learners. I am now a little over halfway through my Associate’s degree in Psychology. I am back to working full time. I still find time for my husband, son, and many other aspects of life. It is not easy. Sometimes I don’t get as much sleep as I would like, or as much free time. Nevertheless, I don’t regret my decisions at all.
College immediately after high school is a wonderful option for some people. It just wasn’t the right option for me. I still have people who think it’s ridiculous that I didn’t complete school in the first place. They think I’m going through unnecessary stress at a time when I don’t need more stress. But you know what? I’m enjoying college. It’s not about the degree I hope to eventually have, or what others think I should do. It’s about me, learning more, bettering myself, and discovering more about my world. It’s an experience I get to claim as my own. You don’t have to follow the prescribed path to succeed. Follow your own path that works for your life.
I am an adult learner. And I’m proud of it!