Don’t Go Back To College

Back in the dim mists of time. When Duran-Duran was on MTV and I was on campus, a new and profoundly bitter kind of undergrad was starting to appear at colleges across the country.

The Non-Traditional Student.

Also known as the returning drop-out.

An odd creature that was and remains quite celebrated in pop-culture. I suppose it’s all part of the Eat, Pray, Love trope of today.  Back in the Eighties it was just Ex-Wife Starting Over syndrome.

Now just to be clear, there are legitimate reasons to go back and finish a degree. If you need one in a certain field for your next promotion, then you have to go get the damn thing.  That’s all there is to it.

However, if you are getting a degree because you think that at the age of thirty-something-plus it is going to make your life better… It won’t.

Some doors are just plain shut past a certain age.  What you will get out of college when you start at eighteen is drastically different, then what you will get from it at, if say, you have just finished four years of active duty at twenty-two.  Those years between eighteen and twenty-one are staggeringly formative and molding for the adult you are going to become.  A lot of your character will be written in indelible ink during this time.

Like I said, some opportunities are permanently closed to you past a certain point in your life. 

And going back to finish a degree is not going to open them. EVER.

When all is said and done going back to college to finish a degree is not going to change everything that went wrong in the intervening years.  That is simply another scam the higher education system is running at your expense.

Some day there will come a point in your life when you have to start over. That is a hard thing to do but it has to be faced head-on.  Play that ball where it lies.  Don’t pick it up and walk back to the start of the course.  The game doesn’t work that way.

Okay, I’m done here.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Go Back To College

  1. I was going to disagree with you using my own life as an example, but I realized that what I was actually doing by going to school post EAS was just getting the credential for the next career step. Good insight. One more example of “always pick your battles” before you go and blow a huge load of time and money.

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  2. I teach at a community college, some non-trads (mostly women) are coming back to school now that the kids graduated HS. They have no kids at home, husband is still working, so they get some skills and get a job. Some are as you described. Of the men coming back, most were laid off and retooling their skills, others are using their GI bill. What gets me are the Boomers who think they know *everything* already and no snot nosed GenXer punk (that’s me) can teach them anything. Fortunately, I have facts, logic, a ZFG attitude…and tenure that usually shuts them up or gets them to drop the class. Eh, it pays the bills.

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  3. Good post.

    My personal story lines up with this as I went back to get my MBA in order to get out of sales. Fortunately I was still in my early twenties but I did notice how my attitude was different.

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