By Darby Gregersen
No matter how old I get, the month of September always gives me a mental image of a brainy worm with a pencil and thoughts about school. Memories from school when I was younger, thoughts about my younger relatives going to classes, thoughts about where I wanted to be with school and where I am with school now. September just highlights school in my mind so I want to take the opportunity to talk about school, how different it is for each person, how important it can be and the different ways school can look. The easiest way for me to start is by sharing what school has looked like for me through my life.
Ever since kindergarten, I always had a plan in my mind for what I wanted to do when I got older, and that was to be a veterinarian. I had it all mapped out in my 7 year old mind: elementary school, middle school, high school then college at UW. Admittedly at the age of 7, I just thought that everyone went to UW, like it was the natural chain of succession to go from the high school I went to, to the University of Madison. I grew older and learned that college doesn’t work like primary school, people need to apply to college and can apply to whatever college they would like. I learned that you don’t have to go right away as well, and that you can take a gap year, go later or whatever else fits your life.
So by the age of probably 9 years old, I had it set in my mind that I would graduate high school, take a gap year to travel around the world, then come back and go to the University of Wisconsin Madison to be a Veterinarian. Those plans didn’t exactly play out as ambitious little-me anticipated, I am now 24 years old and haven’t done any schooling after receiving my HSED (High School Equivalency Diploma). I did not graduate high school then take a gap year to travel, I graduated with my diploma almost 2 years behind my class. My life, like many others, did not go according to plan, and that affected my school life. For me, going to school was a lifelong dream, and this wasn’t my dream outcome for my school life. It has taken me some time to learn and accept that as disappointed as I might be I didn’t reach this dream, it is okay, and I can try to work for a new dream with school. Most people’s lives don’t go according to plan, especially with school, so it is important that we can adapt and change our expectations and goals to better fit us as we grow into them.
Now I am trying to do that, to adapt and change my expectations so I can have a new goal and hope for school. I am still learning about school too, people like my employment specialist at Chrysalis are helping me learn what my options are, and what exactly it would mean to get a degree in something. I say ‘something’ because right now I don’t know what I want to go to school for, I know I would like to go back and get my degree in something I am interested and invested in; another thing I am learning is okay, as stressful as it is not knowing sometimes. I do know that in the upcoming school semester, I am not quite ready to commit to a degree yet, but I do want to spend more time doing things that are personally fulfilling to me which is why I am taking a non-credit class which I didn’t really even know was a thing either, but knowing about professional and continuing education classes made me feel like I had much more opportunity to fulfill my school dreams. My employment specialist helped explain what they were and went through the Madison College non-credit class schedule with me. We talked about different options and interests I had while going through the classes to see if anything clicked with me. When I found something that did, she helped me get in touch with the school to enroll and now I can proudly say I am enrolled in a college course for this fall. And I still hope to enroll for more next year.
It might not be what I always imagined for myself with school but I am proud of myself now for still following through on my goal and expanding my knowledge with a class this year. It might be “years later” than I wanted to go to school but this is the year I am doing it. I said at the beginning of this blog I wanted to talk about how different it is for each person, how important it can be and the different ways school can look; even though I didn’t go over each point in specifics, I hope sharing my experience with school highlighted all of them. It is never too late to go back to school and fulfil a dream, learn something new because later in life it sparked an interest or learn something new about something that we are already interested in. There are plenty or reasons a person might want to go back to school, and even though there are plenty of reasons you might be told not to and plenty of things in life that might have prevented you from going, I want to encourage and remind you that you can still go to school if that is what you would like to do. Don’t let people tell you otherwise, especially yourself. No matter who you are, it could be your time to ask yourself, is it time to go back to school?