Don’t Let Your Teenager Make My Mistake

You see this clock right here? Yes, that red one. That is a screen-shot I took of my desktop clock a few minutes ago, and that time is AM people!

I just finished writing and typing my 11-page final paper for my ethics class. (Excuse me while I go get something to drink.)

Ahhhhh – that’s better! No, it’s not a fun drink, and I turned off the caffeine drip an hour ago.

Aside from the 90-minute cat-nap I had this afternoon, I will soon be heading to sleep for the first time since waking up Sunday morning. For any of you who know kids thinking about putting off college, please, please direct them to this post as soon as possible!

This is what it takes. This is what it takes to go back to school as an adult to get the degree that so many jobs require. It’s 4:30 in the morning, and I haven’t really slept in nearly 48 hours. Sure, I used to do this all the time when I was in my 20s, it was easy! I took pride in the fact that I could get as little as 2 hours of sleep and wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with plenty of time to get to work.

Now? I’m going to be 40 in a little over 2 weeks, and I’m the mother to 2 young boys. Between being 20 years older and chasing around 2 active kids, my energy levels are only at their peak after a solid 7-8 hours of sleep. My youngest starts screaming bloody murder to be taken out of his crib as early as 6AM (thankfully, it’s been more like 7:30AM the past two weeks). They both need to be fed pretty quickly after getting out of bed or they will both be out of sorts for the rest of the day. My oldest has to be cleaned/brushed/dressed for school no later than noon, which means we eat a relatively early lunch. While my oldest is at kindergarten, my youngest either spends his time playing with me or napping – naps last anywhere from 1-2 hours. When my oldest returns home at 3:3oPM, its homework time. Soon after follows dinner, which I start cooking around 5:30, but we don’t actually eat until 6:30. Then it’s baths for the boys, stories and tuck-ins – usually completed around 8:30PM, which is when I start my studying.

The difference between now and before I had kids? I worked full-time and would have started studying about an hour earlier.

If I get 5 nights a month that involve my physically required 7-8 hours of sleep, I’d be amazed.

Did I have fun in my 20s? Hellz yeah! Would I have been willing to sacrifice that fun, live with my mother and attend college knowing how much harder the work would be in my 40s? IN A SECOND. Why? Because I would be able to give my kids the energetic, fun, wide-awake mother they deserve, and if I was still childless, my husband and I wouldn’t feel like we’re constantly strapped for cash while I go to school, and would go out all the time.

Don’t do what I did and assume that having good experience and a long-term job are enough. They aren’t.

If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up – welcome to the club! The truth of the matter is, most people who have a bachelor’s degree don’t work in the same field they majored in – but the degree allowed them to get a job that paid well anyway. Just get the degree. Pick something you are passionate about or interested in, get the degree while you are young, and earn the nearly $1 million difference over the course of your life that a degree allows you to.

It will be worth it. I promise.


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  1. Julie says:

    Such a great post! I totally agree, getting a BA degree has got only benefits, and later it could be really nice to have a degree in anything.

  2. Angie says:

    Our choices are all half chance.

    Had you gone to college right after high school you could be like me. Wishing you had either gone to beauty school because your hairdresser who only spent a year in beauty school (vs. your 4 years towards a bachelors degree) makes twice as much as you made when you were last working full time. She was able to buy her first house, completely on her own before the age of 25. I’m guessing she’s pulling in around 70K-85K and has been making that for years. Sure she works for an upscale salon, and I realize the hairdressers at Super Cuts aren’t making that kind of money, and she does rely on tips but she loves her work.

    Or you wish you had taken that receptionist job you got after college graduation right out of high school. You could have done that job easily without any of that knowledge you had quickly forgotten from college, and this way you would have learned so much more from your work experience than you ever learned from College. For example, you would have discovered that yes, half your job can be automated, but by macros, and maybe you should have majored in Computer Science instead of the nebulous major you chose, Communications, because with your only work experience being McDonalds, you had no clue what you wanted to do. You were just sure you didn’t want to work at McDonalds, and that’s why you went to college.

    I don’t have regrets about going to college anymore. At least my degree is something that can’t be taken away from me. But at one point I began to doubt that I was really making any more than I would have had I gone to college later or even not gone at all. But there is more value to an education than just earnings.

  3. ToscaSac says:

    I am a single mother with a teen, 36 and a few dozen credits shy of getting my BA. My parents did not attend collage and they had each other. They were married for 5 years before I came along and almost another before my only sibling was born.

    I would have wandered to community college if I had understood that a Cal grant would pay for it. I feel now about 4 years of extended school like I did in my teens. UGH

    Not because I dislike learning. I dislike the schooling process for all it’s foils when it really is not always the best thing for education. I unschooled my daughter.

    The world is changing I think is the biggest reason to tell children the new thing that might be required is a degree…

    Something that is not so new, and yet proving more and more wise that I am also explaining to those who can hear and understand, life is not all about finding a job. To guarantee your future build an empire.