punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

College Degrees

I don't have a college degree, something that shocks a few people from time to time. "But you're so smart," some say, in so many words, which kind of ticks me off like if you didn't have one, you are automatically a dum-dum. Do I wish I had one? Yes. Why don't I have one? There are a few reasons I will summarize.

I was supposed to go to college. In my senior year in high school, my mother committed suicide. She had my college money, which I never saw again (it was kept from my father in secret, so when she died, he just assumed it was his, and I really don't hold that against him as much as others might). She also was the driving force to continue onwards, which means I would have gone to college more for her than for me. My father forced me out of the house right after graduation, and left me alone for the rest of my life. And good riddance. Being on my own, even though I had enough money (from 2 years of working, plus my mother's Social Security checks until I graduated) saved for a year of college, the long-term prospects looked dim. I was TOTALLY on my own; no parents, no relatives, and while I had friends, none of them were in a position to help. Those that were, like Bruce and Cheryl, gave me a place to live, but I had to pay rent. Then I lost my job, which wasn't steady at all. I got a new job 2 months later, and have been working ever since. I never had enough time or money to go to college. Hell, when I spent just 2 weeks for the CCNA, and one for the RHCE, I knew I could only do two things at once: job and family. And that was just ONE subject. In order to actually pass college, which requires multiple subjects, I would have to either not work, or abandon my family, which can't happen. Plus, I can't afford college anyway.

Do I regret it? No. Actually, and I can say this with absolute confidence, my life turned out way better than if I had gone to college. If my mother was still alive, and I went to college, the most likely scenario would have been that I would have burned out after 2 years, I'd still be taking care of my drunk mother, I probably wouldn't have moved out, and I'd be a much, much darker, horrid, and depressing asshat than I want to admit I am capable of. And I never would have met Christine, had a son, or really, any of my friends. I certainly wouldn't be doing computers, and if I did graduate and get a job somewhere, I doubt it would involve my degree in astrophysics.

A few months ago, I took a poll on several lists, boards, and at work, asking several college degree related questions. The answers were thusly.

Number of people who responded: 58

Is your degree related to your current work? 61% said yes, which was higher than I thought, but the higher rate I think it attributed to the fandom lists, which were almost 60% of the people who responded. At work, the rate was lower than 20%. This may be to the "tech explosion" that started around here in the mid 1990s.

What form did you get your degree in? Most (88%) got something they could frame, usually in a folder or already framed. 50% said they got a scroll (most got it along with the frameable one). 3 people said they got a wallet-sized one, and one person said that her and her sister still haven't gotten anything for years, even though they keep bugging the college (they got transcripts, though, to prove they have a degree. Yikes!

Did you ever need to show physical proof of your degree? Here we are more split, with only 26% saying they did, but most did not, and relied on transcripts, but most were never asked to prove they had a degree at all! I know I read somewhere that there are people with fake degrees, or people who outright lie, working in degree-dependent jobs. Once in a while you hear in the news about some professor getting called on it, or a coach who lied about his experience. But I am in the fake it until you make it category. If you have faked being a professor for 20 years, and you did a good job? Hell. He or she has proven themselves by that point. Let them slack.

Do you know where your degree is? We have a more even spread here, where the winner was "in a box somewhere" (or the equivalent, like dresser/closet/basement) at 38%, but in second place with 35% was "I have no idea." This seems worrisome, but I can't exactly explain why. The rest had them on a wall, or displayed out in the open at work, home, or one had theirs hanging in their parent's house, but knowing his parents, this doesn't surprise me (only child, made Phd).

If I ever go to college, I'll be damn sure I'll have mine hanging on a wall.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000652.html
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