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When is Higher Education Important?

I’ve been thinking about going back to college at the ripe old age of 39 for a masters in renewable energy science technology.  I look back at my college days and the education I received then really only points out all that I don’t know now.

When I was in high school, it was a given that everyone would go to college.  Some college, any college.  But we were expected by our parents, teachers, and peers to press on for a higher education.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t have a clue what the real world was like or what I wanted to do with my life to be able to even remotely choose a major with any degree of certainty that it would be useful.

What if we encouraged our youth to explore the world after high school.  Get lost for awhile so you can come back with a better understanding of who you are and what you hope to accomplish to justify 4 years of higher education and possibly a heaping pile of debt.

What if we encouraged our children to explore their humanity and their youth to discover their gifts and true talents.  Be young and live, but come back when your 26 and tell me what you want to do with your life.  How many of us actually graduated from college and work within the field we majored?  Not too many I bet.  I took a year of engineering and hated it, I transferred to Architecture and loved it.  A lot of folks are so lucky.

Maybe NOT getting a degree is not necessarily a bad idea for many.  I know many licensed professionals without college degrees that are successful, happy, and proficient at their jobs.  Many even own their own businesses.

For me the true value of getting a Bachelor’s of Science from the School of Architecture at Georgia Tech was learning how to think.  To really cogitate, to reason, to break down ideas and reassemble them into something new.  I can’t tell you much about the art appreciation class I took.

My Mother was a return to college student when I was attending Georgia Tech.  She was attending Agnes Scott women’s college AND working a full time job while I was getting bombed on the weekends and trying to get lucky.  She had higher grades that I did throughout her undergraduate program and then proceeded straight into a masters/phd program at Loyola in Chicago.  Why?  It meant something to her, she knew what she wanted and had a thirst for the knowledge.  I got my ticket stamped and went out into the work force without a clue of what I really wanted to do or how the world really worked.

Part of my desire to go back to school is to learn the things I missed the first time.  Creative writing, literature, economics, finance, accounting, mechanical engineering, physics- all of these interest me and know I see how I can apply ALL of these disciplines to the world around me.

I think we’d see more happy employees if we encouraged our children to figure out who they are before we tell them what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives.

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