There comes a point in all our lives where we make a decision and we ask ourselves, “What does education mean, and is it really worth it?” For me, I decided at the young age of 15 that once I graduated high school, there was no need for higher education. And even if my example doesn’t exactly resonate with you and you’ve always felt education is important, each of us ends up wondering later in life how education impacted us or didn’t impact us, for better or worse. Personally, my journey to higher education opened many doors I never knew were there and helped me discover my true passions in life. This article is my story.
I grew up in a small town where going to college after high school isn’t exactly on everyone’s minds. Yes, of course, many do go off to college, but not all finish their degrees. The rest decide to start their careers at a young age. As previously mentioned, I had no intention of really doing much with a college education after graduating high school. No one in my family had gone to college, so it had little to no value for me. Despite everything, I gave it a try at the local college and then called it quits after a year, much like many of my peers.
As life went on, I tried to envision where I’d end up. I tried to paint a future for myself, and for some reason I simply could not. I loved where I worked at the time, but I couldn’t see myself there forever. Then one summer I met a friend who challenged me to do something with my life—to go further rather than simply expecting things to work out. He challenged me to take a leap and get a degree. This required a lot of contemplating and weighing of options. Was I to remain in my hometown that I loved and potentially never reach my full potential, which I didn’t even know at the time? Was moving away and starting school even worth it? Would I struggle as much as I had in high school?
Ultimately, my decision came down to two things: Would education benefit me and get me somewhere in life? And would I be able to succeed? After all, school wasn’t ever my forte. Finally, I decided to take the leap. I packed up my car and moved to one of the state’s largest universities, not knowing what to expect. I remember driving on the freeway in my Mustang and wondering what my life held in store. I remember feeling a sense of panic and insecurity. But I also knew that I wasn’t a quitter. I was ready to succeed. I decided I would make sure that an education was of benefit to me and that I could succeed through determination and hard work.
"I was ready to succeed. I decided I would make sure that an education was of benefit to me and that I could succeed through determination and hard work."
Fast forward just two years and to my—and potentially everyone else’s—surprise, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree. I felt like I was on top of the world! Was it easy? Absolutely not. I worked day and night and had many nights of frustration while studying. After graduating, I even got a new job that I loved—things were really working out for me. Yet part of me still knew I wasn’t done. What more could there be? I’d already made it further than I ever imagined, so there couldn’t be anything else, right? Wrong. Soon after I began my new job, I discovered my employer’s education benefits, and was presented with the opportunity to obtain my master’s degree with their help. Suddenly my life was turned upside down again. I contemplated for weeks. I reverted to my original questions that I’d asked myself years before: Would it benefit me and get me somewhere, and could I succeed?
After seeing what a bachelor’s degree did for me, and with the help of my amazing wife, I decided to once again take a leap. About a year and a half later, I was standing at graduation for a master’s degree. “Wow, now this is something I never expected to happen to me,” I thought to myself. Feelings of relief, joy, and pride overcame me, knowing everything I went through to get there.
So you might be wondering, after a whirlwind of years has been condensed into a mere few paragraphs, “Where have his life’s choices carried him—particularly higher education?” I’m not here to say, “An education will give you everything you’ve ever hoped for!” or “Without education, I never would have succeeded.” What I am here to say is that education carried me through a hallway where I had an opportunity to see many, many doors that education was the key to open. For me, a master’s degree meant that I was able to discover just how much of an entrepreneur I am and how to be successful as one, rather than going through years of trial and error. I’ve opened three different successful businesses and have assisted many others in opening theirs. I realized that business is my passion. People are my passion. And, from my point of view, education is my passion—all because I took a leap, a chance, to see what higher education could do for me.
About the Author
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Independence University.