Nineteen and In-Between

Birthday flowers from Sam. =)
I've been asked many times what I am doing for my birthday, but haven't been able to provide a definitive answer; I wasn't really thinking about it. February 1st snuck up on me this year because I've been too preoccupied to notice.

It's amazing just how much has changed for me in the past month. I left a steady job to focus on my studies and my photography has been taking off. I'm excited about the shoots I've been doing and the opportunities I've been presented with. Owning a business is so much fun! Significantly more so than homework.

This semester I am back at Lyndon State College to graduate with a B.A. in English and an A.S. in Business Administration this December. (Yippee!) At White Mountains Community College the majority of my classes were online, thus it has been a challenging adjustment to attending six courses face-to-face--and especially to that 50 minute one-way commute. (I have seen my gas gauge shift from full to empty three times in the past two weeks. How depressing!)

I've noticed that the main difference between this semester and the previous few is how incredibly in-between I feel. It's like I'm stuck in-between stages. The first is being a college student: going to school and staying on top of copious amounts of homework. The second is being an adult: managing a business and staying on top of bills and responsibilities. When I'm sitting in a classroom I'm taught how to do something, but I'd rather be out in the world doing it.

But that's what college is: more showing than doing.

This week a new element has arisen: I was sitting in my Creative Writing class--a topic I love--when I glanced at the clock to calculate how much longer I had to sit there. =0 I think it hit me then and there that I am no longer going to school because I have a desire to learn, I am going to school because I need to obtain a piece of paper.

There was one point in high school when I didn't want to go to college; I didn't feel that I would need a degree. And arguably, I might not. There are many people who do well with their lives through diligence and experience, not education. But why is education limited to formal schooling (and why do we judge people based on it)? What about the College of Life, as my friend Bobbe refers to it? There are many topics we have learned not from school, but from experience and interest. It seems that the information we retain is mostly that which we have had the desire to seek in the first place.

I think self education can be more important than college education. It is easier to learn on the job by doing than in a classroom by pretending. And furthermore, many of the classes we're required to take in college are not applicable to what we will be doing in life.

My favorite environment to learn in is a workshop. These micro classes are focused on a specific topic, thus tending to address the crux of the matter more quickly than a similar college course would. Furthermore, people elect to take them, and are generally more interested by the material. In my experience I've also found the group in a workshop to be more motivated and diverse. What I really love is how I enjoy completing the work and don't feel pressured to do it- I want to do it. But if I can't, I won't fail the workshop like I would fail a college class.

Maybe it's my hippie/homesteader ideals that are influencing my opinion, but this is just how I feel. There is absolutely a need for colleges- I'm thankful Sam's doctor attended one before performing his knee surgery- but in many instances, I find that a shorter college experience--more concentrated in one's desired area of study--to be more effective. I found this quote by George Bernard Shaw that is quintessential in describing my feelings: "From a very early age, I've had to interrupt my education to go to school."

Going into my nineteenth year I feel divided. My mind is having difficulty keeping up with everything: feeling like a college student but not really, an adult but not really. I know I'm not the only one. Hopefully by the twentieth birthday I will be fully enrolled in the College of Life and loving it. Stay tuned. =)