Monday, November 4, 2013

College: They All Went but They Didn't Stay

Follow your dreams.
Life is a journey, not a race.
Figure out who you are…
Maybe try "un-college"...

The whole "un-college" thing is all the rage these days and it seems like a good idea….for other people's children!

So, I have a history of encouraging kids to follow their dreams, take the "road not taken" etc... In our early 30's my husband and I even quit our great jobs, sold our house in the suburbs , cut our income in half and moved our 3 boys under 8 to a city 800 miles away so he could follow a dream and I was totally onboard with this.

 But imagine my surprise when our own boys  followed in our footsteps! 

Both my husband and I have our college degrees, I have a Masters and often ponder a Ph.D ( I google, I bookmark, I can't commit)  We have talked to our boys about college for as long as I can remember. The question was never, "Are you going to college?" it was "Where are you going to college?" 

And they all went, but they didn't all stay.

Our middle son Trent has always had a calling to do "good works".  His high school resume is filled with philanthropy. Nevertheless, when he first went off to college he sort of denied this part of himself.  It didn't last long, after a semester, the school he chose didn't feel like a fit.  He applied to work with Americorps for the next year and off he went from Indiana to California to live and work with people he had never met.  He had amazing adventures, from planting native species while camping on the beach to working at a therapeutic horseback riding center to re-roofing cabins at a national arks.  He was happy!  When his Americorp stint was over, it was back to college. ( I MAY have been a little pushy about this….) This time he studied "Non-Profit Management" and got involved in philanthropic groups on campus.  But honestly, he felt like he was just jumping through hoops and not DOING anything.  Much to our surprise (even though we knew he wasn't really happy) , after a year and a half it was bye bye college & hello again Americorps.  

Currently he is in Las Vegas working with The American Red Cross.  He is making a difference for people every day.  He isn't jumping through hoops, he is bringing resources & help to people who need it. He talks about returning to college so he can go further in the non-profit world, but again…he is happy…the world is currently his college, his boss & colleagues are his favorite professors.  

Trent is on the right end

Alex also set off to college right after high school.  He had a scholarship to run cross country, I will now, in hindsight, admit that he was never all that pumped up about going to college.  He went because we thought he should and the majority of his friends were going.  He had a great first year, ran, made friends, had fun and... didn't want to go back. 

GRRRR how is this happening to me again.  

He has always been an avid skate boarder. He eats breathes & sleeps it.  Really skateboarding and any sport that makes a mother's heart beat too fast. The thing is, he is really good at them.  Currently, Alex is living in a city about an hour and a half away from us with his girlfriend who goes to college & works.  Alex is working at a really great alternative sports sort of store True West Coast Style .  He lights up when he talks about  meeting with sales reps whose products are in the store. He has led the store in sales, never misses works and loves it.  He is….you guessed it….happy.  The customers, sales reps and store owners are his professors.  He learns everyday. He also talks about going back to school, studying something that will help him design skateparks.  He isn't in a hurry, but wants to take a few classes at a time so he can still work & skate.

Photo by Chris Johnson

So who learned the most here?  Likely the answer is me!  The boys are alright…they are independent, pretty much the only bill of theirs we pay is their cell phone. I'm not saying it has been an easy journey, , but as I may have said more than once in this post, they are happy & that makes me happy. 

So, it is true, life IS a journey, not a race….even when it is your OWN children's journey!
Some resources in case you listen to your kids better than I did:

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