Monday, September 28, 2009

Modern . . . College

I went to a tiny little college in Annapolis, MD, where we studied original texts by the great thinkers of Western civilization (St. John's College--the picture above is one of the classrooms there). Everything from Homer and Plato and Aristotle up through Marx and Neitche and Austen (a strange collection to group together in that list, eh?). I love my college. I loved the experience. I loved the reading. But I gotta say . . . I also feel that the fact that college has become all but required of people strikes me as a bad thing.

My best friend Stephanie opted to focus on her writing career instead of heading to college, and I'm really impressed with her for that. It allowed her to spend time with her craft, to help out her dad at his company, and to really focus her life. (I mean, let's face it. How many study toward a degree in a field that end up not entering??) I think she made a great decision, and I applaud her for that.

In Yesterday's Tides, which my agent just sent out on Friday (prayers, please!), my main character got pregnant at 16 and made the choice to get her GED and then give up on dreams of college to raise the twins. This happened 9 years before the first page of the book. So while we don't see that decision, we see the results of it. To the world, she probably looks like a failure. She does handiwork, she cleans the church.

And she's there every day to get her kids off the bus.

This decision she made is a crucial part of her character, and we see its many manifestations as the story unfolds. She could have done it all--raised the kids, finished school, gone on to higher education. There are those women who do, and who manage it all well. They're an inspiration, because they have a dream they fight for.

And isn't that what college should be? The means to a dream? A dream itself? Why has it become obligatory? My character made a different decision, and she has never regretted it. Because her dream was for family. Why does the world judge that as less important?

1 comment:

  1. I think any decision you make like that (to go to a specific college, to not go anywhere, to postpone a dream and focus on kids, etc.) is a gamble. I knew when I made the choice to work for my dad and pursue publication that there was a chance I would never see the kind of success I dreamed of. Just like there's a chance you'll get a specific kind of degree, then not be able to find a job or discover the work isn't what you thought. That's something I love about Yesterday's Tides, how it shows God's big enough to handle complex, messy, life-altering decisions. And that He'll help you through living with your choice.