The Irrelevance of a College Education
Finding myself a college junior at age 56, I have often thought about why one might want an education in the first place. When asked why it's taken me so long to complete college, well almost complete, my reasons are both simple and complex. I never real ly liked high school that much and my family moved around a lot. As a result, I attended several high schools. In retrospect, I now understand that high school is difficult even if one never moves. But I digress. Why get a college education? Would I be sm arter? More importantly, would people around me think of me as smarter? In fact, did it really matter at all what people around me thought? Was it money then, or pride? Perhaps it was respect.
Starting college at night in 1965, I decided to take all the "required courses" to get them out of the way. I don't recall having an advisor back then, nor do I remember asking for one who might have suggested there was no rush in taking the "required co urses" immediately, but rather to take some courses that I might enjoy. So I enrolled in night school and took classes in Western Civilization and Economics. The Western Civ class (as it was called back then) was ok, but the only thing I learned from Econ omics was that the professor cleared his throat 26 times in the course of a minute. Feeling nothing was to be gained in a class where I was counting the clearing of a professor's throat, I dropped out, never bothering to withdraw from the class, but that' s another story.
A couple of years later I decided to go back to school. I was a young newlywed at the time, working to put my husband through college, but still convinced I should take the courses I was mandated to have what difference if I enjoyed them or not? But I did fare better. I successfully completed (that means passed) two years of English; Sociology; Psychology; and no-credit math to make up for my failure to take Geometry in high school. I often wondered if this was a punishment.
Several more years elapsed -- ok 20 more years -- and I decided I would take a class for "fun." Imagine my surprise in finding my art appreciation course was indeed fun. How could this be? After all, this was college! Moving ahead still further in time , I was re-engineered from my job (a new word that means fired, canned, sacked.) After a year or so, I decided to look into school yet again, and suddenly I was the proud possessor of my AA degree. Hey this is pretty cool, I thought. Why not go on I aske d myself? But why? Why get an education in the first place?
Graduating high school in 1961 I found there were limited opportunities for young women such as myself. The three major options were teaching, nursing, or having 2.3 babies while living a Doris Day life behind a white picket fence surrounded by flowers, all the while wearing my shirtwaist dress, heels and a pearl necklace as I vacuumed. Come to think of it, that's not so bad now. But it's not 1961; it's 1998 and...