Like all 18 year old boys leaving high school, I knew absolutely everything about life, the world, life after death and relationships. Why did I need college anyway? Uncle Sam answered that question for me when in 1970 my lottery number came up and I spent an educational term in the service of the United States Army. You may not realize this but in just two short years I discovered that all the things I had learned in the past 12 were not applicable to slugging through rice patties in Southeast Asia and that the notions that I had about death were from reading too much into Shakespeare.
Leaving my Uncle’s Army in 1970 I decided that a little extra education might not be such a bad idea after all especially since he was kind enough to foot the bill in exchange for my attendance and at least average grades.
Enrolling in a small private college I began to open my mind instead of my books as I had done in High School. With the maturity of my real world experience the subjects took on the richness of a hot house tomato, firm, well formed and pleasant to the eyes , palate and nostrils. I was addicted.
The experience was so pleasing to me that I began using the “Cafeteria” plan of course selection. I would peruse the catalog of courses and if something looked good, I would take it. My major went from Journalism, to History, to Physical Science, to Law and finally came to rest on Criminal Justice. I completed my B.S. in Criminal Justice and went to work in a large metropolitan police department.
My degree did not help me anymore than the guy with the high school diploma with drunks in bar fights or in chases with stolen cars but it did land me administrative jobs with perks and pay commensurate with or above similar civilian jobs. Education was again free so I continued to work, be a father and husband and pursue a Graduate Degree.
With my Master of Public Administration I moved from the command of a department to the Management of a City over the next 10 years. Without a doubt my real world experiences forced upon me by accident of birth at a pivotal time in history helped me to see that higher education reaps greater rewards.