NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Friday, January 23, 2009

What To Do, What To Do . . .

I have an intellectual dilemma, and I'm certain in this book-blogging world that I'm not alone. I think many people out there have that certain insecurity that goes along with never having pursued a college degree, that weird "I'm not smart enough for my opinion to really matter" feeling, as if some letters after my name will propel me to some higher ground.

I would *love* to be able to say I have a degree in English or Literature. It's a fantasy to see my name with an M.A. or Ph.D. after it. Or even a B.A. at this point! I've spent a lot of time kicking myself for singing in rock bands instead of going to school. But I've also been told by people who do have M.A.'s and Ph.D.'s after their name that they would love to have done what I did, to have those experiences. The grass is always greener, right?

Those same people, when we talk about my lack of a college degree, tell me something very interesting. They sum it all up like this -- higher you go with a formal education, you learn more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing. Unless I'm pursuing the degree for work purposes (Which I'm not. It's purely personal.), I'll learn much, much more on my own. I scoffed at this until I realized something this morning as I was scanning the degree requirements at yet another local college. Every list made me feel claustrophobic. All that time and effort and that's all I'll learn about? But there's sooooo much more out there!! Suddenly, I find myself envisioning different letters after my name: A.D. (A.D. being the abbreviation for autodidact). I could write papers and link them to my blog for any crazy folks who would care to follow along. I could spend hours with courses from The Teaching Company. I could even have Peter make me a lovely certificate so I could feel all official. What do you think? I think I like it! :-)


Jo-Jo said...

I know how you feel Lezlie! I just turned 40 last year--earned my bachelor's just a couple of years ago, but probably wouldn't have received if I didn't work at a private college where I didn't have to pay tuition! It is a great benefit so I utilized it. Every now and then I will take a class purely for self fulfillment purposes.

Not to mention that some people can have a long list of degrees and no common sense! It is a sad thing--but working in the college sector it does become visible at times.

Sorry to keep gushing but I would give you a B.A. in advanced blogging!

Darlene said...

You know Lezlie, you have to do what makes you happy but you are very well read and extremely articulate. I'm not sure you need more although I understand your wanting it. I have a degree in Marketing which I barely utilized as I got sick so really I wonder about all that time and effort I used getting it. Could I have used it better elsewhere. I don't know. Ok, so much for my rambling. I'm not sure I answered your question. lol.

Anonymous said...

Do whatever feels right for you. You could always start with an Associates Degree.

Lezlie said...

Jo-Jo, Dar & Bermudaonion ~ Thank you for all of your kind words and advice. What is funny is that I've accumulated nearly 100 credits over the last few years, but the range of subjects is so broad that they don't apply as a whole to any formal degree. I love learning and could never could narrow my sights. As a result, I have no degree, but I'm pretty good at Trivial Pursuit! :-)


Thoughts of Joy said...

LOL at your Trivial Pursuit comment. :)

Okay, my take is that first and foremost you have to do what you are most comfortable with. Going back to school, when you really don't want to, isn't going to help you feel more fulfilled.

And, I am a firm believer in education - of any kind. I do not believe that it is useless, even if you do not use those specific skills. However, formal education is not for everybody. Find what you like to do and explore the options. :)

Keep us posted!

Lezlie said...

Joy ~ I agree. I'm an education junkie. But I'm starting reach an unshakable conclusion that self-education is my preferred method. I just have to make myself understand that self-education is just as valid on a personal level as formal education. For some reason I have a mental roadblock there, like I feel as if I'll do it "wrong". Whatever *that* means. I don't know about me sometimes. :-)


Kara said...

I would take the courses that interest you and have Peter make you a certificate!! Self-education sounds wonderful - that is what a lot of homeschoolers are doing with their kids.

I would love to take Greek Mythology in college.

Lezlie said...

Kara ~ I'm still thinking about taking a composition class in the fall just to get my writing/thinking skills moving again. And wait until I tell you all what Peter and my mom got me for my birthday! I'm waiting until it gets here to spill the beans. I'm so excited!!!

I think homeschooling is so great! If I had kids, I would give that serious consideration.

Are you familiar at all with The Teaching Company? They have a great Greek Mythology course!


Ana S. said...

"They sum it all up like this -- higher you go with a formal education, you learn more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing. Unless I'm pursuing the degree for work purposes (Which I'm not. It's purely personal.), I'll learn much, much more on my own."

This is pretty much my experience too. Unless something mind-blowing is being saved for the semester I have left until I'm done with my second degree, I didn't learn anything I couldn't have learned on my own.

Shelley said...

You and I are pretty much in the same boat! I believe in self-education mostly because I love learning about whatever I'm in the mood to learn about at any given time! I have two associate degrees to prove this. But I would also like to return to school--a class with a great teacher and discussions sounds heavenly to me.
I think I struggle more with questioning what to do with what I learn. I mean it's fun, but it seems like I'm inputting much more than outputting and I think what's the point of acquiring knowledge if it's not being passed on somehow? So I think I need to go back to school and get a degree that will allow me to do that. It's a very intimidating (and expensive) idea though! And it would cut into my reading time.

Anonymous said...

I've been there, Leslie and when my son went to to university I decided to take an Open University degree - that's a part-time degree in the UK that's made up of credits for each course that you take. It took me eight years and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was no benefit to me jobwise but I proved to myself that I could do it. So go for it if that's what you want to do. Having said that I would have loved to sing in a band - I lacked the confidence and it's too late now! Good on you whatever you do.

Terri B. said...

There is learning and then there is the acquisition of a degree or degrees. They don't necessarily go together (which you already know!).

My degree actually allows me to make more money and was, therefore, a practical decision. Most of what I've learned (even in my own field) has come from a combination of experience and pursuing self-directed studies after graduating. I was so busy trying to meet requirements while in school that I often didn't have time to really learn.

I'm glad I've got my degrees, but I also try to be realistic about the whole process.

Teddy Rose said...

Seriously Lezlie, I really liked school but the read I took 6 years worth was for my career. I couldn't imagine spending all the time and money of doing just for some letters at the end of my name.

Part of the problem with getting a degree is that you have to take a whole lot of credits in stuff your not interested in at all, at least for a BA or BS. I prefered working on my MS because I got to just studie social work.

BTW, I never use BA or MS at the end of my name, not even on my business cards. LOL! I will say that I did do while getting my MA that was fus was that I minored in literture. That way I got to read for pleasure and not feel like I wasn't paying enough attention to studying. LOL!

Serious, you could got a lot of education through books of interest and/or maybe taking some continuing studies classes here and there.

Lezlie said...

Nymeth ~ That really does seem to be the general gist of things. If I didn't have to work, I would just go to school, no problem. But I *do* have to work, and there's only so much time in the day. . . :-)

Chain Reader ~ For me, sharing via my blog pretty much covers that. It really comes down to a self-esteem thing if I'm totally honest with myself. Perhaps a therapist would be a good investment first. LOL!

Books Please ~ That sounds like a wonderful program! None of this would be job-related for me either, so I guess I'm allowed to be a little wishy-washy about my decision. In the meantime, I do still get to sing!

Terri ~ Very true. I have found over the years that as soon as I start directing schooling toward a job, I start hating it. I have a very good job now, and school needs to be kept a hobby or I get cranky. :-)

Teddy Rose ~ I never would use them either, but it would be fun to know I *could*. There's my ego raising its ugly head again! :-) I need to think about it some more, but one thing I know for sure is that you guys will be hearing more about The Teaching Company while I work this out in my little brain.

Thanks for all your comments, everyone! It's good to know there are people I can bounce these thoughts around with!


Susan said...

Well, you certainly have started quite a debate! Which is good, because I think we overrate university education, but at the same time it is useful if you go to study what you want to learn. I know, that sounds boring because we should only go to study what we want anyway! I guess, having a son who has failed a whole year of university, and comparing it to me, when I went back as an adult - I enjoyed myself because I studied literature, and it was what I had always wanted to do even as a child, I wanted to go to university. It was such a surprise when I came out with my English lit degree (and I do not use BA at the end of my name!) to realize that I had lost the joy of reading for pleasure, and I had to reteach myself how to let go of criticizing everything I saw, although I still look to see if there are connections in the book and meanings the author is working with.

I think if you really want to go, then take one or two, and see if you like it. But don't think it's necessary to be taken seriously as a reader or writer, because the 'arts' inform more through thinking and reading and viewing (and for doing, for the artists and writers working at the arts!) than any university degree can give.

Anyway, hope this helps a little!

Michele said...

Well, I'm biased because I went back to school last year and am loving it (except for calculus...that still sucks even after all these years).

But if you decide to do it and want to bounce ideas off of someone in the same boat as you, just give a holler anytime.

Good luck!

Nan said...

I truly believe that education is much like religion. You do not have to attend college any more than you have to attend church. One can be educated and religious without either one. It is all up to you - what you want and need. Have you ever read that book,The Day I Became an Autodidact by Kendall Hailey? I haven't but have always meant to. When I was searching for the exact title, I came upon this autodidact page. You may have seen it?

Lezlie said...

Susan ~ It helps a lot! Thank you! It's interesting to see everyone's take on it. It's really nice to know that in this community our opinions are valued no matter what our educational background is.

Michele ~ Thanks! And I hear you about calculus. I'm married to a college math professor and I break out in hives when he shows me the work his students are doing. I got A's while was taking math classes, but I was relieved to be finished with those requirements.

Nan ~ That is such a great point you make. I had not thought of it that way at all. And thank you for the book suggestion! I'm going to look for that right away. And for the web site!


Terri said...

ack! I'm so far behind in reading your blog. Trying to catch up today.

I got my BA in English at age 43. I loved the experience of school at that age, but I can't say I got a fabulous education. A lot of what I learned took place outside the classroom, talking with other students, etc. I'm glad I did it - I think I could have done well with a self-directed education. Which is sort of what I'm doing now, with blogs and LibraryThing!

Have a great weekend, Lezlie.

Literary Feline said...

There was never a question when I was growing up that I would go onto college and get a degree. My parents had instilled in me that it was the only way I would be able to succeed in a career of any kind. I believed them and that was the path I took.

I think it was the right choice for me, but it isn't for everyone--and it's definitely not the only path. My father wanted for me what he didn't have. He doesn't think of himself as being smart or well learned, but he's one of the smartest people I know. While he did go back to school many years later to earn his AA degree, most of what he knows he learned on his own and through his life experiences. There are many different ways to learn and educate oneself, as others and yourself have said.

I think you should do what feels right for you. You don't need a degree or letters after your name to lead a fulfilling life (unless that's a goal you set for yourself), but I do think there is something to be said for wanting to learn--whether a person teaches him or herself or goes to school, it doesn't really matter--but hopefully none of us will ever lose that eagerness to learn. I think that's when we truly stop living.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone -- do what feels right for you & what makes you happy. If there is something you want to learn about formally, you can always look at non-credit courses at a local college in Continuing Studies.

I felt the same way when I was about to go into University after high school. I don't want to spend 4 years studying general-nothingness just for a BA. I ended up going into a very specific program for Publishing & loved it.

Lezlie said...

Terri ~ There is so much out here in our little community, it's easy to get behind! I'll be 44 next month, and I know that with the classes I have already taken I appreciate the experience more now than I ever would have when I was younger. But I think those qualities that allow that are the same ones that make us effective self-directed learners if we choose to go that route.

Literary Feline ~ My parents never, ever talked to me about college when I was in high school. I often wonder if I would have done things differently if they had. I certainly don't blame them for anything as far as that goes though. I also had exposure to a lot of other things many kids never get the fun of growing up with: horses, trailriding, and a father who was an artist and a musician with a million interests. That might be where my insatiable curiousity to learn things, even if it has taken a very different turn from his.

Monica ~ Thanks! I'm not sure exactly what that program entails, but just the fact that it says "Publishing" makes it sound great! I'm glad it worked out so well for you! I'm sure I'll figure things out. I go through this every couple of years. :-)


Andi said...

I think you're onto something!!!

Lezlie said...

Andi ~ And you being an English teacher should know! :-) I may have some questions for you regarding personal curriculum planning! I'm not even kidding. ;-)


Ladytink_534 said...

"Higher you go with a formal education, you learn more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing"- Sounds like a quote from Yeats or Lewis Carroll!

Lezlie said...

Ladytink ~ It's very possible that it's not an original quote, but until I find out different, I'll happily attribute it to them. :-)


Serena said...

I hate to say this but in some ways these degrees are overrated because I thought ok I'll do better than my parents and get a BA and I still get paid peanuts even though I know the English Language and AP style, etc. And I continue to have to justify why editorial changes are made based on that knowledge.

But regardless of that I thought I would go back to school for an MFA in creative writing to help me write a book, but I've learned from many of those who have the degree that its really about creating deadlines and getting feedback from other writers, can't I do that on my own without paying a college loads of money with loans?

Not that this story may apply to you, but in this economy and with everything costing so much, its hard to justify a degree that may be unnecessary when you can get books from the library and learn on your own.

Lezlie said...

All excellent points, Serena! And more and more I am inclined to agree with you. In my case, it's a lot of money to pay for a self-esteem boost. I've been doing some very interesting reading on liberal self-education, and I've decided at this point to put my money and time into the library and The Teaching Company for now. Wait until you all see what came in the mail for me yesterday!!


Serena said...

I did check out your latest post! And I am excited for you. Self-education can be a wondrous thing, especially when the subject matter relates itself to personal perspective and critical thinking--you don't have to worry about an instructor telling you what you should think.

Lezlie said...

Serena ~ Thanks! You know, I think that's part of my hesitation regarding formal classes - fear of indoctrination. I want to think for myself.