I don’t currently have a college degree. Some that know me find this hard to believe but, I don’t even have an associate degree to my name.
My parents and my general situation gave me plenty of opportunity to attend school. In fact, I did attend courses over a couple of semesters. However, due to my lack of self-discipline at the time, I just didn’t care. It seemed like I was doing high school all over again, but, with no real incentive to complete the work. After all, why should I spend so much time studying for something that I wasn’t interested in? Why work full time and then take extra effort to re-learn the same science and math classes I was assured I would have the freedom to avoid in college? In short, what was the point other than people saying I “needed” a degree?
Flash forward about 13 years to today. While by God’s grace I am doing pretty well for myself, I do look back on the opportunity I wasted to get my degree. I’ve since had both my outgoing and incoming managers at work tell me that I need to get myself a degree. A college degree provides a key to at least get one’s foot into the door at a HR department at a potential employer. In many cases HR systems filter out those without a degree, even though a position might say “or equivalent work experience”. In addition to this, a degree provides a platform for future learning and for growth opportunities in one’s self.
At age 33 (going on 34) it is much more difficult to fathom going back to school. I have a wife and son to be present for. I have responsibilities at home and at work that demand my attention. My full time job and my home life take up nearly all the time I have as it is. However, going to school part time means it will likely take 6 years to earn a 4 year degree. It means a 6 year investment of time during which family circumstances or work circumstances could change at any moment. It also means an investment of family funds for me, a person who has a hard enough time writing a weekly blog entry, let alone studying and memorizing class materials.
Granted, there are a lot of new ways to learn including online classes. There are even sites that tell people how to get an entire degree just through study and taking certain tests to prove that one has the knowledge from a particular course. I don’t believe that to be the best approach for me though.
Instead, I am going to attempt a hybrid approach. I’m going to study for the CLEP exams on 7 courses I know I’ll need and are accepted in my state’s universities. I am using free online learning resources, in addition to CLEP study guides to teach myself the material. When I’m ready, I’ll take the test for one course and then move on to the next. In this way I can save time and money. I can also work with my family to plan on a future college re-start date so that it will still provide a stable environment. By combining technology and testing, along with my previous college courses, I can put myself a year ahead. From there I can do part time classes during regular semesters and summer/winter semesters and get the degree in 3 years.
It is a lot of work to be sure! I’m currently re-learning Chemistry and Biology. But, I find it much more interesting now than in my younger years. Who knows, perhaps waiting until now might be one of the best decisions I’ve made. But time will tell, and your thoughts and prayers will be appreciated in the coming months and years both for me, and for my family.