We all want to make good decisions; healthy, conscious, stable, sturdy choices. Taking time off school is my most recent good decision. I used to consider it a risky, yet necessary move… that is, until I read something that changed how I view risk.
Every week, the good folks at Uncollege email me a few interesting articles. A couple weeks ago, I received an article on not taking risks. This struck me as odd. Uncollege is an organization founded by, run by, supported by some very capable risk-takers. Or at least, that’s what I used to think. When I read Jean Fan’s “A Short Guide to Taking Risks: Don’t,” I had to relabel my decision to leave college.
According to her, a risky decision that has been thought through is not a risk at all. Once all the pros and cons have been weighed, and it has been decided that it is a risk worth taking, the riskiness factor actually dissipates. What is left is sound decision making. I asked myself the following: What is more risky? Investing in an education I am doubtful of or taking a break to re-evaluate my situation and solidify my beliefs and goals? What is more risky? Leaving high school devoid of passion or taking control of my education?
My vision for an ideal life is a picture of me working hard, taking advantage of the immense freedom I have been given. Part of that includes the freedom to choose how I learn, what I learn, when, where, and why. What will I learn today? Whatever I need to, whatever I want. What are my reasons for learning this topic? Not to measure up to some alien standard, but because of a personal interest. Using that freedom wisely — that is an ideal, successful life.
When I look back at my high school years, I deeply regret not taking advantage of the freedom I never knew I had. My teachers were fine, my classes often interesting, but my overall experience was being conducted by adults who didn’t really know me or what I needed. Ever since I got a taste for alternative education four years ago (when I got my GED), I have not looked back. I only wish I had the courage to have realized this sooner.
I am 22 years old with way more college credits to go than credits earned. I am far from obtaining my college degree and therefore far from living the American Dream. But that dream is not my dream. This is how I want to live my life, and I don’t consider it a risk anymore. Right now, investing in school is a bigger risk. I will continue my DIY education for as long as I feel is necessary, and that is my good decision.