Monday, July 09, 2012

Loath to Desire: College

I went to a high school that strongly promoted private 4-year colleges for pretty much all students that were seen as having any sort of professional potential whatsoever.  Community college seemed to be an option only for struggling students, aimless kids, and losers.  Nothing was ever explained about the financial savings, transferring credits, or about the many basic courses that could be taken via community college for a substantial savings, and then rolled into a 4-year college degree someplace else.

It is possible that we were told these things, but the only message I heard was FOUR YEAR COLLEGE.

Also, my home life situation was not the best.  I had no intention of staying at home any longer than absolutely necessary.

I worked two jobs through the summer, saved my money, and headed off to college where I got jobs on campus as well.  My parents had agreed to pay part of the tuition as well.

I had been interested in majoring in social work or psychology, but my father told me he would not support me going to college for these things because it would only get me a degree that would cause me to end up in a low-paying job "working with the dregs of society."  He wanted me to be a business major.

For three semesters I went to college, trying to major in something my father said was acceptable, while not really enjoying it or having a vision, plan, or inspiration for my future.  Up until just a few months ago, I believed that in my third semester of college I felt so confused about what I was doing there and what my purpose was for that education, that I decided to take a break so I could figure it out. (And not spend money while figuring it out.  Thematic!)

Several months back I remembered that there was something more.

For some reason, which still escapes my memory, my father and I had some conflict related to college.  I have smidgens of memories of things it might have been about.  The biggest recollection I have about it is that I knew he was manufacturing some conflict, because the real punchline in the whole thing was that he was not going to send in the money to the school that he had agreed to pay.

As has been typical for my father, rather than just fessing up about his inability to provide something financially, he would try to make it be about a punishment.  That way he can create an alternate reality that portrays him as the wise potential benefactor who had his hand forced to deny something to someone because of some higher standard of parenting, Christianity, morality, or something.

So, long story short, the relatively minor financial support (I think it may have been around $1200) that I had been promised, was now not coming.  I felt I had no choice but to leave college.

I remember the awkwardness of having to go into the office of the financial dean to explain that my bill was not going to be paid, because my father was not going to send the money, and so I was going to be  dropping out of school.  I recall the kind man's face as he looked so sorry for me.  It seems like he tried to offer me some sort of solutions, but my mind was made up.  I accepted the current debt, which seemed insurmountable to me at the time, and walked away from college half-way through my sophomore year.

I guess I learned well about alternate realities from my father, because I quickly focused on the positives, as well as the things I could stomach:  I don't know what I'm doing here in college anyhow, so I'm taking a break!  It costs too much for me to waste money not knowing my goals here!

I learned it so well that for 20+ years I didn't even remember what really pushed me out of school, and nobody else did either.  My mom barely remembers it, and my husband remembers it a little bit.  I know how to spin. What can I say?

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