The Education Factor
We all heard it when we were kids. All of the adults in our lives always telling us “stay in school”, “you have to get good grades if you want to get into a good college”, “you’ll never get a good job without a good education”, blah, blah, blah. Who wants to hear all of that? Now I’m an adult. And I’m going to jump out there and say it…stay in school! I coasted through high school. With little to no effort I did enough to graduate. That’s about it. After high school, I went to get my Associate’s degree with the hope of getting into a four year college to receive a journalism degree (my grades in high school were not good enough to go straight to the “big” school). Then, with three semesters under my belt, I got married and started a family. I had a part time job and had the chance to turn it into a full time job. I decided if I could make good money without finishing school, then what was the point in finishing? Then a few years went by and I moved to another state. I thought my experience made me an easy choice for another employer. I was very wrong. Three years went by. I even started applying at all of the local department stores and fast food restaurants. No one ever even called me back for an interview. Around this same time, my oldest daughter started school. If you don’t have any children in school yet, let me warn you, the first day is filled with paperwork. They bombard you with emergency forms, permission slips, classroom information, and more information than I think I could ever really read through in one night. Every year, for every child in school, there is a form you fill out with parent information. On that form is a question about parent education. The choices are: some high school, high school, some college, four year degree, master’s degree, other. There was something about filling in “some college” that made me feel awful. Even just filling in “high school” would have been better; at least that would show I finished something. “Some College” made me feel like a failure and a quitter. With the combination of lack of career options and the desire to want to finish something, I decided to go back to school. I will not lie and say it has been easy. But it has absolutely been worth it. I was able to transfer most of my previous college credit and apply to my Associates degree in a new state. Within a year, I was graduating. I finished something! But you can’t stop there. There is little you can do with an Associate of Arts degree other than transfer it to a Bachelor’s degree. While I was finishing my two year degree, I finally had a call for an interview. Now I had a full time job with great pay and benefits. But for school, this means I can only do night and online classes. I did take some night classes. If you absolutely have to, I say go for it; but only if necessary. I did night classes for one semester. My husband worked out of town so the kids were in daycare from the time I went to work at 8 am until I got out of classes at 9 pm. It was a horrible time, but we made it work. I kept telling myself (and my children) that it was temporary. After that, it was online classes only. Our state has a great program with the state colleges. If you have your first two years of classes completed, there are a number of degrees that you can complete online. Since they are state colleges, you can know that they are accredited and eligible for federal aid and loans. But online classes were hard as well. The hours of 9pm to 12am were dedicated to homework. This meant that if I were to stay on schedule, I had to make sure the kids were in bed on time. I don’t regret a bit of it. Every time I became stressed and overwhelmed I would remind my kids to finish school while they still have little obligations. I have worked hard for my family. I have missed valuable time with my children. I can’t deny that for a minute. But it is temporary, and it is for a greater purpose. I am finishing school to be a teacher and have more opportunities to be with my children while they still want to hang out with me. I hope that if nothing else comes from my hard work, my children will walk away knowing this: go to college and get a degree while you’re still young AND if you don’t use my first piece of advice, it’s never too late to go back.