I heard a story recently on NPR about how young people are struggling with massive college debt and struggling with choosing a major that is not very lucrative. You know, the Art History majors, the English Literatures, the Humanities, etc. Not that there is anything whatsoever wrong with these edifying and enriching areas of study! They are in fact, how we become more cultured. How else are we going to chat about Sisyphus, Atlas or Oedipus? Unfortunately, these classic college majors are beginning to disappear. But I digress…
The reason I am posting this however is because I wonder if all of those young college-bound adults require college-directly-out-of-high-school? If they are passionate about something, they may not require college after all (unless their desired profession requires that track).
For myself, I definitely would be considered a late bloomer. I literally grew six inches after high school… but I am also a late bloomer regarding my career track (and psychologically, emotionally, spiritually). I had no clue what I wanted to do until I was 30. And then it took me a few years to get on track even knowing what I wanted!
While I did well in school (community college and then at the University of Virginia), I’m not sure I required it per se. Yes it helped me to grow socially. Yes it gave me great contacts, assisted me to become a better writer and definitely contributed to where I am today as a human being… (okay okay, even if I didn’t require it, I am super grateful for everything those experiences gifted to me).
I even grew a lot during the three semesters of nursing school that I attended – not to mention benefiting a ton from the Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology portions… And the nursing school experience helped me immensely through Massage school and the national board exam…
As an outside-the-box healing facilitator now, my college degree and my education in those areas barely contribute to what I do in an average day. Let’s say I give one Craniosacral Therapy session, one Polyvagal treatment, and one Shamanic Hot Stones massage… does any class I took over the course of twelve part-time college years contribute to these modalities or these sessions? Not much.
Could I be doing this work today without having any college under my belt? I’m not sure. Like I said, I benefited tremendously from the social growth, the integration of Humanities with Economics with Philosophy and somehow even with Statistics. And I lucked out to encounter some incredible mentors and heart teachers who showed me that education is also coming down out of your head and into the body. In addition to intelligence quotient (IQ), there is also emotional quotient (EQ). And I would even go so far as to add embodiment quotient – another EQ.
One thing I will admit is that my college experience made me a better practitioner today – especially regarding training my mind to be more critical, more logical and more rational. I tend toward an intuitive, circular mind-set. When I took the Research Methods and Data Analysis Psych classes, I struggled mightily because I was literally changing my mind each arduous day. And today I can speak about authentic, research and evidence-based, peer-reviewed scientific studies with ease – which provides more credence to the work that I do (because most of it is scientifically validated).
With that said, my younger brother is doing life without college so far. He went to Governor School (and advanced, expansive, outside-the-normal-high-school-education-box program) where he learned how to do software design among other proficiencies. He started to learn how to create apps for IOS and Android – the iPhone and Android systems! In fact, he was so good at it that the Superintendent agreed to pay him $1500 to create an app for the Nelson County school system (once he graduated high school).
He tried college for one year and grew increasingly frustrated. He continued working as a software engineer and then he decided to do it full-time. And now he is training interns at his job! And he is not 22 years old yet!
I guess the jury is out whether or not he would have benefited more from staying in school (society would say “Yes!”). But I think it is very possible to become educated outside of college – if we work at it, if we take classes or workshops in what we are interested in, if we want to stretch ourselves.
In my family however, of the four kids, 2 seem to be doing what their college degrees said they would. And 2 of us are not. Yes I got my BA in psychology, and some bodywork sessions involve some dialogue, but in reality I barely use that degree in what I do now.
So I guess I would say trust your heart, study what you are interested in, and go for it. (Don’t waste time.) My time in college was precious and in a way I miss it. There is nothing quite as brain-stretching as having all these deadlines to make and books to read etc etc.
And yet, don’t fret if your path seems to take a detour away from school. You might just end up fine! No matter what your parents or relatives might imply. 🙂
Thanks for reading!