Monday, July 7, 2008

Next Step?

I've figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I'm 43 years old and I'm finally ready to go to college and get a degree. All this time, I've known that having a degree would be a good thing, helpful to me, a good financial investment etc, etc, but I've been unwilling to spend the time and money when I realistically couldn't envision myself sticking with anything I started. But now, now I am ready. I want to get a degree in Urban Studies and create communities. I want to learn how to build buildings and all about zoning and codes and urban development policies. I want to design and make neighborhoods made up of people of all ages, abilities, backgrounds and standings. I want to build communities for people who value the Earth and want to live harmoniously with it and with each other in cities. I want to build SPICEland. For real.

The thing is though, that I'm working about 30 hours a week, Hammy's working his job and we're already just barely making it. Zed will be starting public school this year, so the older two are no longer at home during the day but Carmac is 5 and will begin homeschooling this Fall. Hammy is very concerned about the time and money that my going to school will cost. Right now, we're constantly juggling schedules and bills and the needs of 3 growing children and our marriage. How in the world can I even think of adding a full college course load to this crazy mix?

The kids all say "No!".

Hammy says, "Why not wait a year?". He wants us to spend a year digging ourselves out of debt and then enroll next Fall.

But, to me, this is an investment in our future and to think of waiting a year means a 4 year degree will take 5 years (or longer) to complete. I want to get started. And, who knows where we'll be or what will be happening in a year. His parents aren't in very good health; anything could happen with them that would prevent me taking this step. Or we have a household crisis. Or something could happen with one or another of the boy's schooling. Or something else. Or anything, everything else.

I feel I need to do this now. I'm ready. I ready to go into a classroom with a bunch of 18 year olds and study remedial math courses. I'm ready to work hard and be challenged and ask for help when I need it. I'm ready to teach my poor overworked/underused chihuahuabrain new tricks--and give it lots more to yap about.

I'm not one to wait patiently once I've made up my mind about something. I feel this is right. I feel CONVINCED that this is right. And, of course, if it's right now, it will still be right in a year. But in a year, it will be a year later and I'll still be in exactly the same place I am right now--no closer to meeting this goal.

I'd be either taking out student loans or we'd borrow against Hammy's 401k. Either way, we'll be going deeply further into debt, which freaks Hammy out. He's having difficulty seeing this as an investment. I think he's afraid this is a whim, although he's been too polite to actually say that. I think he's afraid I'll incur huge debt and won't follow through. I don't know how to get him to understand that I've never been willing to commit to college before because I wasn't ready but NOW I AM. He's afraid. I'm afraid. We're just reacting to what we know.

So, I'm holding this in the Light and believing that God will lead me where I'm supposed to go. It's hard, though, to get my ego out of the way, my desires and hopes and very strong will. It's hard, too, to balance what may be a leading with Hammy's needs. I respect him and don't want to bulldoze (as has so often been the case in so many instances in our marriage). I want to know that what I'm doing, either enrolling or not, is what I'm supposed to be doing; what's best or right.

I'm going to try to slow down while still taking steps toward enrolling. In rereading what I've just written, I see that I need to talk/think/plan less and listen more.

I welcome your insight.


Jeanne said...

It takes a ton of courage to go to college in your 40s! Way. To. Go.

If you are led, way will open. This isn't to say some things aren't going to be hard. But there is a surprising amount of help (financial and academic) for adults getting a college education, especially if you're a first-generation college student.

You'll get the guidance you need. Maybe instead of starting full time you'll start with one or two classes. And maybe you will be led to start in January 2009. And maybe not till September 2009.

Fear is the Adversary's tool. Many people have done with you'll be doing, and survived. You can too. Your kids, though they oppose it now and may grumble later, will be so very proud of you when you walk across that stage to get your degree, and your success will be a beacon and inspiration to them. Think, Carmac will be 9!

The thing about following leadings is that God will give you what you need and when you need it. Maybe not what you want when you want it, but you'll know the rightness of it all.

God's Grace is truly amazing.

I will hold you and your family in my thoughts and prayers in the coming months. Please keep us updated!

Anonymous said...

Take it slow. No need to jump in with both legs and arms and body. If it is the right path, you can still find out by taking the first few courses a couple at a time. Full time coursework, five at a time, is likely to be grueling, especially with the 101 courses to endure for quite some time before you get to anything meaty. Realize that serious "planning" is done by people with MS degrees at least, and that you have a long long road ahead of you.

Manette said...

Dear Mary Linda,
I'm at work today with not much to do, so I was cruising around and I happened upon your blog because I'm a Quaker too. Maybe I was meant to tell you my story. I went back to college at the age of 43. I had a few hours from about 20 years before and had started and stopped so many times I can't remember. Finishing my degree was a goal I had set for my life. I was struck one day that if I didn't get started I would never finish. My husband and I were deep in debt so there was no money for tuition or fees. I looked into student loans that would be deferred until I graduated. I started out with a correspondence course offered by the University of Oklahoma which is where I wanted to attend. I did that for a semester to get in the grove then I decided to take 6 hours the next semester and each semester I worked up until I was taking 12 a semester by the time I graduated. I was also working 20-30 hours a week and had three children at home. Mine were all in school though.

I'm getting too long winded here, so to make a long story short. I graduated with a BA in English Literature with a minor in History the week before I had my 46th birthday. Yes, I have a mountain of student loans to pay back, but the experience and the job I now have is worth EVERY penny I have to pay back. Going back to school and determining that I was going to get that degree was the best decision I ever made. Don't mind what anyone else says, do it if that is what you want to do.

Best of luck to you.