The College Decision - A Daughter's Perspective
- Tuesday, August 02, 2005
You Can't Stir Fry in the Blender: My Journey Away from College
I'm in a small white room, lying back on a long, adjustable, vinyl covered chair. There's blinding white light fixed above the chair shining right into my eyes. The room is silent except for the occasional clink of steel on steel as someone out of my line of vision readies the (gulp) instruments. I know all too well what will follow, but I still give an involuntary jump when it happens. Without warning, a figure in a white lab coat stands over me firing question after question. "How old are you?"
"What grade are you in?"
"Um, tenth, I mean eleventh, well, sorta both. You see, I skipped a grade and--"
"You're homeschooled, aren't you?"
"Thought so. Do you floss every day?"
"Can we try another question?"
"What are you going to do in college?"
I fight back panic as I try to think of something clever to say. It escapes me and I find myself saying in a very small voice, "I'm not going to college." Dead silence fills the room. The dental hygienist holds up two small, plastic x-rays and pronounces my sentence. "Two cavities."
I am part of a small, but significant, minority of homeschoolers (mostly homeschooled girls) who have decided not to go to college. However, even though I'm odd, I still don't get the satisfaction of feeling a "part" of this community of odd people. I don't live on a remote farm, shunning the world with my twenty siblings. I'm not a disciple of the "back to the Victorian era" movement. I don't believe that all college girls are feminists, and I don't even think that all colleges are part of a vast communist conspiracy.
In the beginning, at least, my parents and I decided that I would not go to college, for lack of a nobler sounding way of putting it, because I just wasn't interested. I had other things to do with my life. I love to write, hate math, love working with my hands, hate bookwork, love small children and old people, and have never hit it off particularly well with the "hip" young collegiate crowd. There was so much I wanted to learn about real life skills after I was done with school and I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of sitting in a classroom studying biology and calculus instead. Until the spring before my senior year, I was perfectly content with this choice.
Then panic hit. It all started innocently enough. I announced one day that I would like to take the SAT. I'd never taken that sort of test before, and I thought it might be fun. It was fun, challenging and interesting. My math scores certainly ruled out the possibility of my ever becoming an Einstein, but my verbal score was good enough to almost make up for that.
The wheels began turning . . . I had never taken much algebra. I wonder how my scores would be if I studied algebra 2 this year . . . You know, I probably could hold my own in college after all . . . I always thought that I would be a wife and mother when I grew up, but, what if I don't marry for a long time, or never marry? It would be kind of fun to be a teacher, or what about a political journalist? That sounds intriguing. The next few months were a whirlwind of scholarship and college application forms, morning to evening bookwork to fill in my "gaps" and endless conversations at the dinner table about whether every daily activity in my schedule would fit in with the "Possibility of College Plan."
Finally my patience snapped. I could not prepare for two kinds of lives at the same time. Once and for all, should I definitely go to college, or should I definitely not? What did God have in mind for my life? I wanted to know now. God doesn't often answer questions on our schedule, but this time, He made a gracious exception. We had a family powwow in the dining room. My dad set up the white board and we started by listing my interests and goals. I'm quite eclectic in my interests so lots of things went on the board, and, for awhile, we weren't getting much of anywhere with the discussion. Then a pattern began to emerge. It became more and more apparent that whatever I did was motivated by a desire to help, or simply enjoy the company of other people. I'm a one hundred percent people person. No surprise there. We were surprised to see that the things we had considered my "primary" interests, such as writing, fiber arts, music and politics, were really only enjoyable to me when I was making gifts, teaching my skills to others or fighting for a humanitarian cause. As we went through all this, the thought kept coming to me, "What does this all have to do with college?" And then we saw. It didn't have anything to do with college. It had to do with who I was, and who I was had about as much to do with college as making stir fry has to do with a blender. Let me explain.
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