“In school, you’re taught lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”-Tom Bodett
Going to school and getting an education are two different things in my opinion. While I believe in the value of an education, I think the school system in America could use some work. That’s not to say that I don’t think teachers do an amazing job with the little they are given. Teachers are undervalued, underpaid and overworked and that’s not fair to them or the kids they are teaching.
Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” He is right, but I think that in order to change the world, you need to be educated on the world around you and I don’t think that’s what we get in schools today.
Let’s take me for example; while being a pretty bright kid, I was faced with fear and anxiety when it came to school. Being a bit of a social outcast who got bullied and picked on, I could care less about math equations and historical dates. I struggled in school. Part of it was anxiety, part of it was laziness, and part of it was that I just didn’t care.
As kids I knew were preparing for AP Exams, SAT’s and college applications; I resigned myself to going to the local community college and was just happy for high school to end (to the extent that I opted not to walk at graduation). Turns out college was’t much better for me. My attitude towards school would continue on and while I would eventually get my Associate’s degree, I would drop out of two four year schools along the way.
After withdrawing from Cal State Fullerton due to issues with both the competitiveness of the art program I was in and depression from being away from home; I was lucky enough to get a job and start working. Eventually I would get hired on at the organization I am with now and assumed my collegiate career was over.
After getting married my wife encouraged me to go back to school and when she got pregnant I began to consider it. I wanted to be able to say to my son that I had finished what I had started so many years ago and then when I got passed over for a promotion and it became apparent that I would need a degree to climb any higher on the corporate ladder, I decided to go back.
Two years later and next week I start the final class of my Bachelors degree program. I graduate in six weeks. A journey that started off so poorly twenty years ago is coming to an end in spectacular fashion. I have been able to maintain a 4.0 GPA for the last two years and I have been accepted into the Masters degree program to begin in September.
I am incredibly proud of both myself and the work that I have done. I am incredibly thankful to my wife and son for the sacrifices they have made to allow me the time to put in the work. I am incredibly grateful to my parents for giving me every opportunity to do this twenty years ago and still being supportive of me today.
The life education I received before going back to school has been the key to my success. The ability to apply the lessons I have learned based on the tests life has given me has supplied with the knowledge I needed to graduate. My schooling as a teenager should have taught me more about life and less about how to memorize dates and how to avoid bullies. Maybe I would have been more interested and invested back then. Maybe not, part of my past educational failures were due to me just not caring.
I care now, and the work I have put in and the results I have gotten demonstrate that. Six weeks from now I am going to be a 37 year old college graduate. C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” What was once my nightmare, the thought of school, is about to become a dream realized.