Nine months ago, the 2015-2016 school year started, and I just enrolled in a college. It was something I’d dreamed of since I was nineteen, but let my ignorance and fear of student loans hold me back. After a while, I didn’t even think about the loans anymore. I was doing well on my own, after all. Twenty years of steady employment proved that, didn’t it?
I regret not doing this sooner, I really do. I’m not sure how I could hold myself back like I did. I know a lot of fine people who are college graduates with Bachelor’s degrees at the minimum. All of them have more fulfilling jobs and more respect at their job that I was treated to. Why didn’t I just knuckle down then?
It doesn’t matter. I could examine that train of thought, but even if I came up with specifics, it doesn’t change that these were the decisions I made, and I did the best I could with the understanding that I had at the time. That’s life for everyone. Neil Gaiman didn’t go to college, and look how far he got.
One thing that caught up to me in the last quarter was this; all my teachers respect me. I have been told outright, or selected for positions of responsibility, or trusted with confidences that teachers don’t typically tell students. I mean, for the most part I’m a lot closer in age and experience than the average freshman at a community college. I think that helps. However, I hadn’t seen a pattern until just this week. I spent a half an hour after class talking to my English teacher about hair and her family’s difficulties and pottery. We talked like old friends, rather than a teacher and a student, and I was by turns amazed and pleased.
Even my math teacher, who teaches a subject that I don’t excel in, called me a dedicated student and recommended me as a tutor for the Learning Center.
What I am taking from this is that my decision to go back to school is a valid one. That despite all my resistance and fear, this is the place where I belong. I am building my platform, learning the skills I need to become an excellent writer. I still qualify that, too. I don’t just say, “I’m going to school to learn to be a better writer.” I immediately follow up with, “But I also want to use my degree to find a better job…”
I’m nervous about how things are going to turn out after I graduate with my Bachelor’s. That’s two years away, and anything could happen between now and then. I’ve experienced a lot of growth in the past nine months, I may not recognize who I am by the time I get to the finish line.
Being a student isn’t just about grades and tests and required minimums. It isn’t just about reading, writing, and arithmetic. It’s about opening your mind to the possibility that there is more out there in the world than you know. To learn how to consider a thought that doesn’t jive with your world view without needing to beat it to death with a club.
I thought it was, but I was wrong.
I have a few more classes to take before I bump up to the big four-year college in town, but I cannot wait. I’m fond of Western for the friends that I made through their establishment. Hell, I met my husband because of the club that I was associated with. I have been waiting to go to this college and earn my stripes.
Beyond that is still mostly a mystery.