When the lack of a major accomplishment in the form of a college degree haunts your life, nothing feels complete until you earn it. Even when it is decades later, the sense of personal achievement for some people is missing. It is an enormous feeling of fulfillment when you finally have that degree in hand. My story is one that is typical of some of the Baby Boomer generation in particular.
In the 1960s, many of us thought the way to succeed was simply to get married after high school and either work part-time until we started a family, or do things the traditional way and be a homemaker who stayed out of the workforce altogether. That all seemed logical at the time, before the days of needing two incomes emerged. By the 1980s, some of us needed to find employment outside the home as our children matured into older teens who were capable of taking care of themselves after school.
In the ’90s, after the kids had been on their own for a while and the nest seemed pretty empty, it was apparent that working outside the home was not just a good idea, but was also becoming preferable to the ho-hum life that was setting in. You could call it a rut. But there was a slight problem – so many interesting jobs required a college degree. Now the years were passing by quickly, and the lack of a college education was looming ever larger. However, need for more income had peaked and was becoming less of an issue.
But the desire for more education never did peak. The lack of having a degree was a haunting factor that just would not go away. Even though having it would mean little to our economic situation, I decided to go for a degree in my late 50s. It wasn’t enough, though, and I wanted more learning. That wasn’t enough and I wanted even more. Today at 61, I no longer feel the sting of not having a degree, and I have achieved more academically than I set out to achieve by going to college.
I am always in awe of the senior citizens I see proudly accepting a diploma during a graduation ceremony, some of them quite a number of years older than I am. It’s an inspiration to me, the same way I hope I am an inspiration to people in their 50s and 60s. As I always comment, it’s never too late to get an education. There are options available to finance an education, so there’s no need to let a missing college degree haunt your life any longer.