20 Something: Missing that college dream

Warning, this post rambles a whole bunch. I guess I needed to work out some of my doubts on the screen, and I’m deciding to share it, despite the disjointed nature, because maybe someone else is experiencing something similar, and perhaps this thought dump will help. Also, if you are experiencing something similar, shoot me a message. We can chat, commiserate, maybe grab coffee if you’re in my area. I need more friends!

So by now, most people are back in school or at least starting next Monday. This summer wasn’t too strange because I never took summer classes, so it felt like any other three month break. Now that a lot of my friends are heading back to school, I really really miss being a student. I’ve found ways to fill up all the extra time I now have, but I miss learning. I’ve been contemplating taking random classes at a tech school, going for a Master’s, getting another Bachelor’s. Something or anything to go back to the classroom, continue learning.

But there’s the whole money thing. The deplorable higher education system in the U.S. has been talked to death with nothing really changing except prices going UP instead of down like they should. I have tons of student debt just waiting to choke me death in a few months when I exit my 6 month grace period. I already know I won’t be able to afford the monthly payments that would pay it off the fastest, so it looks like I’ll be paying a LOT of interest.

But that’s still a few months away, so right now I’m trying to focus on job hunting for something that will pay enough to make the debt worthwhile. And I’ve been doing other things, too. When I tell most people that I worked 40 (or more) hours a week while taking 16 (or more) credits every semester, they look shocked and don’t get how I possibly managed it. For one thing, university was slightly harder than high school but still absurdly easy. For another, I need to be that busy. When school let out in May, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Sure, I was still working full-time, but I had all these hours in the evening that suddenly needed filled, plus two whole days where I didn’t have any obligations. Two days! An unheard of luxury that quickly grew boring.

So I made goals. I have six goals currently, and I keep meaning to do a post about that and how I track them. So that’ll be my next blog post. Anyway, the relevant point for this post is that even these are not keeping me fully occupied.

I have a strong desire to know pretty much everything. I’ve been learning French off and on for 11 years, and I’m finally approaching fluency (I think. It’s hard to find other French-speakers in my area.) Now, I want to learn Spanish. I want to learn computer programming. I want to learn Astrophysics. Those familiar with my Stargate obsession will understand that last point.

I want to learn so many things, and the internet is definitely my friend in this, but even that has a limit. A lot of the things I want to learn are better suited to a more formal education structure, particularly to be useful in a job market context. Take computer programming. I can learn the rudiments of just about any (ok all) computer languages currently in vogue through the web. I’ve already started with HTML. Though to be honest, I already had a basic understanding of that. But no matter what I learn online, and no matter how important I think being self-taught should be, without some fancy expensive certificate, it probably won’t do me much good outside of my personal amusement.

Of course it’s not just the knowledge I miss about college. I also miss the forced human interaction. I mean, I work retail so I’m forced to deal with people everyday, but not for extended periods of time, and not in any way that allows me to make friends or network.

I honestly would probably enroll in a university again right now if I could figure out what I actually want to study. I’ve been toying with the idea of a second Bachelor’s in Computer Science or a Master’s in Library and Information Science, but I can’t decide if either thing would actually be worthwhile. Part of the problem is that my ultimate goals keep changing. For the past few years, I thought I wanted to work as a copy editor, editorial assistant, etc. Something in publishing. I would still LOVE to do that, but the opportunities are vastly limited in my area, and I’ve already committed to staying here for at least a year. Logically, I should continue working toward that goal through remote freelancing.

Actually, I think that last part just answered my own question. Though I do think I’ll keep going with the programming languages because they are fascinating.

One thought on “20 Something: Missing that college dream

  1. Lunar says:

    As someone who also worked full-time with a full university course-load, I understand what its like to suddenly have too much free time on your hands. When there’s twice as much as there used to be, its easy to take it for granted to run out of ways to fill it. But eventually those gaps will close. You’ll find other things you want to do, be it course auditing at a university, online workshops, or some light travel. It just takes a bit of getting used to.


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