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Continuing Education

Now And Then

University education is not for everyone. I say this with a stipulation, most people with a degree have a better chance at making more money than a person without a degree although there are many examples of people without a degree who are super wealthy. Honestly, I really don't believe most kids coming out of school should jump right into higher education. At that age many do not know what they want to do with their lives and are only doing it because their parents expect them to do it.

Unless you approach it with a mindset that you really want it for yourself, you will fail. Many who are forced into it by their parents accept it as their fate and graduate because they are not given an option of failure. They end up okay for it and have better opportunities and thank their parents for it in the end.

I went to college when I was 17 and very conflicted about being there. I took a major in Mass Communications to study Radio and TV broadcasting at the University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo. The professor of my radio broadcasting class opened our first class on a downer that most of us will never succeed in the business because the competition is so fierce and usually goes to those with connections. He also told me I do not have a voice for radio because I sounded like a cartoon character. I had no other idea of what other major would appeal and was feeling the peer pressure of my Jehovah's Witness peers who thought going to college was a bad idea and said I should pursue a full-time ministry. Eventually I dropped out to do just that and got disillusioned with the group and spiraled out of control from there.

As I was still on medication and looking for a way to make it on my own, I thought it would be good to go back to college. I went to Thornton Community College in South Holland, Illinois to study Occupational Therapy. It was so hard to concentrate on medication and the anatomy course was proving hard to do with a lot of work under the microscope where I could not see clearly. I dropped out.

On my own, my earning abilities have reached at the highest point $15,000. If I were a single woman on my own, I would be considered on the borderline of poverty. If I were a single mother, I would be considered in poverty. As a married woman, I am dependant on my husband's income. He does not have a degree and works in sales. On his own, the most he ever made in one year is $42,000. If either one of us had a degree that said we knew what we were doing, we could easily make 2-3 times more money.

My children often complain that school is boring and seems pointless. I feel a bit of a hypocrite to tell them to study hard and prepare for college when I was at best a C student in honors classes and dropped out of college twice. However, I know it is for their own good to spare them from struggling like me and my husband.

Both of my sisters have degrees. They make less money than I do. Bill Gates dropped out of college and is a billionaire. My father went as far as grade six in Jamaica and was a manager making decent money. How do I ever get past those facts my children know? How else do you explain that there are exceptional circumstances and just because it worked one way for certain people, that is usually the exception and not the rule? How do you encourage your children who watch the news and see that many professional jobs are being shipped overseas and the biggest employer is Walmart?

I re-entered school and from an adult experience I have seen both sides to it. Many who went to school with me, some straight out of high school, were ill-prepared to continue. There are basics of how to write a paper, research and communication which made it too hard in the beginning. Other skills like math and science serve as a basis for many professions and it is yet another area where some are ill-prepared. I found that I ended up being a support system for those who were floundering; they would have otherwise dropped out.

Another thing to consider is what is the market for your considered major. Unless you have personal resources and want to fund it yourself because money is not a problem, then taking up any major you desire is something you consider. For most people, you are depending on the government, your parents or lending institutions to go. Most of which have a cap on how much to spend. You must pay back loans, so if you spend up to your capped amount, there is no more without a loan and at times that loan may require being co-signed. If you don't have a job prospect when you graduate or dropout, you have to pay back a loan somehow. It is not easy if you are working wages below a standard of living if you are not living with your parents until you can pay a debt.

You might even consider asking a current employer to help with an advance education to be more of a benefit to the company. You could also consider a technical degree [AAS] or certification; both options are lower cost than going 4 years. If you get a job in that field, you will be able to pay to continue your education.

Just consider all of your options before jumping into a decision.