Skipping College

Brace yourselves, GenTwenty readers: not only did I not go to university, but as the years go by, I only grow more satisfied with that decision. 

This is an unusual stance to take in a culture that reveres higher education and lauds it as the Road to All That is Golden; let me be clear right from the start – I strongly believe some people can benefit from a university education. Had I taken a different path, I might have been one of them. The path I’ve followed over the last few years, though, has only served to bolster my decision.

Up until a few weeks ago I still had several binders’ worth of material from the few university courses I did take. I wasn’t sure why I was keeping them. They wouldn’t be useful to me in any way, so I couldn’t use that excuse. Finally, it struck me that I was holding onto my old assignments and essays to somehow prove that I was smart, and capable of university studies. I don’t need to prove that to anyone, least of all myself. My university friends and I have never struggled to find common ground. With that in mind, I finally recycled most of those old papers and have felt considerably lighter since.

As for why I chose not to go to university, well … it was a lengthy decision-making process. I always planned to attend university. I replayed certain Gilmore Girls episodes over and over, especially the ones where Rory receives her acceptance letters and has her first week of classes.

After graduating high school a year early, I took some time off and then dipped my toe in the water with a few correspondence courses. I loved them, but something was missing. The intellectual content, the classmate interactivity, it was all there, but I felt like I was running in place, not moving any closer to where I wanted to be. While I’m a big believer of being “In the Moment,” this was different. I felt stuck. Almost claustrophobic.

Would I rule out taking another university course, if it interested me enough, or a certification of some kind? Absolutely not. Has taking a different route in any way held me back? Definitely not.

I am fortunate in that I was able to transition a part-time job from my teen years into a full-time day job.  In today’s job market, I’m extremely grateful for that.  However, I’ve also spent the last few years building my freelance writing portfolio, launching a writing coaching business and returning to my own fiction writing.  To accomplish that, I’ve read countless books and articles on writing and marketing; asked for, and received, invaluable help from my support network; and started every week with the thought, How can I do better?  What do I need to learn now to move me forward?  The key from that point on is to take positive action in that direction.  Do that, and you’ll get where you need to go.

While those nearest and dearest to me have shown nothing but support, I have encountered resistance, both from people I know and near-strangers, some more well-meaning than others.  People are entitled to their opinion but I do ask that people respect my decision, just as I respect the decision of those who do choose to attend a university or college.  The world is changing so fast, we need to embrace a variety of learning styles: there are as many as there are people in the world.  University is not for everyone.  What I’m doing is not for everyone.  The key is to figure out what works for you.  As for me?  My name is Victoria, and I am a self-directed learner.

For more information about getting an education beyond traditional channels, check out these resources:

“The Economics of My Life”: a brilliant blog post by Blake Boles, a self-directed learning advocate

Better Than College: How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree (Blake Boles)

What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: (Tina Seelig)

The One-Week Job Project: One Man, One Year, 52 Jobs (Sean Aiken)

Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar: How Self-Education and the Pursuit of Passion Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success (James Marcus Bach)

Did you skip college/university and jump straight into adult life?
How do you feel about your decision now?

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