college_vs_not_college

“College vs. Not College?” – It’s not the only question!!

college_vs_not_college

It is really annoying when I propose that somebody not go to college and they think I mean NEVER go to college.

Considering I don’t know what the future holds for me or anybody else, I don’t propose ever simply ruling something out like that.

See, the question is not:

Should I skip college and instead do nothing with my life forever?

Nor is it:

Should I skip college and instead do this one thing that everybody does when they do not go to college?

Because that is the whole point of not going to college: there are a LOT of things to do instead. And… it just shouldn’t be a question of, “should I go to college or not?”

Here is how the question ought to be asked; you should see it all as looking at OPTIONS and then making a PLAN.

Say you want to study English, or Agriculture, or car repair. Here is how you would consider your options and make a plan:

English:

“I really like reading books, writing about them, and writing books. I am not sure this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I think universities provide excellent outlets for things like this. SO, instead of making college either/or, I am going to look into taking some English classes, because I think that would help me both learn and make my decision about majoring in this in the first place. I will also take the extra time I will not be spending in school and perhaps join a book club or two, form a writing group, and start a story on a blog that I will eventually compile into a novel that I will self-publish. That sounds good for now. Good thing I didn’t rule out college altogether, and good thing I have a plan that involves a number of different and interesting outlets.”

Agriculture:

“Sure, you can major in agriculture at a university, and that sounds romantic and grand and everything, but since my ultimate goal is to start a community edible forest, I think that is probably going to be the longest route to learning what I need to know in order to accomplish this. So, I have decided that I am going to accomplish my education in two years, like so: travel around for the first year, gain hands-on skills and knowledge on a variety of different food farms in the climate I want to start my edible forest in, meanwhile supplementing with tons of gardening and horticulture books; in the second year, I will apprentice under two different professional gardeners in two different seasons, meanwhile continuing my education in horticulture, permaculture, and starting to learn the laws of the community that I plan to build my forest in. After these two years, I will stop and see where I have gotten and reevaluate a new plan from there.”

Car repair:

“I’ve been fixing cars with my dad and older brother since I was 8; I know there’s still so much I don’t know, and while my dad always liked Chevys, I personally just can’t get enough of the Subaru. But I’m not ready for college just yet, and I think there is a lot that I could learn on my own before that. For the next year, I am going to scout around, find other Subaru owners, join the Subaru club in the next town over, and get as much experience as I can just toying around with people and their cars, plus becoming one with my own beautiful hatchback. Then after that, I will enroll in the 2-year vocational track at the technical college, which is really in-depth and I think I can really get a good, hands-on formal education as a mechanic – all the while still doing the Subaru thing in my spare time. After that… well, I could either become a specialist, or just be a normal mechanic that has a secret Subaru streak – let’s see where all this takes me!”

 

The reason I wanted to point out these differences is because sometimes I see trepidation in people who are trying to make an either-or decision about college. And there doesn’t need to be this fear or this feeling of taking a huge leap into a great void. You’ve just got to take some time, figure out what you want to do or at least want to try out, and start doing it. That might mean taking some classes, or getting involved in the community, or talking to somebody, reading a book, or taking a weekend trip to a different city… or all of the above!

Don’t know where to get started? Need help figuring out what you might be interested?

Check out my new book, Life Without College: The Method. There are several exercises in it that work you through your current interests so you can find the ones that really matter; and once you’ve done that, the rest of the book is set up to guide you through making a plan, executing it, and keeping track of what you’ve accomplished, just like my hypothetical English, Agriculture, and car repair people.

Check it out! And don’t forget to sign up for my e-mail list for further updates and resources. :)

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Announcement – The Method is Here!

cover crHey College Rebels!

My new book Life Without College: The Method is now live, available in ebook and print!

From the back cover:

“You are considering rebelling against college to pursue your own path your way. You have very personal reasons for doing so, probably a lot of anger and frustration reasons. Do any of the following predicaments sound familiar?

– You know what you like doing, but you could never pick one thing to passionately focus on – You are intensely passionate about 10,000 different things and doubt if you could ever settle on one

– You know exactly what you want to do and are ready to get started

– You at least have a basic idea of what you want to do.

Whether it is concrete and defined like, ‘Play cello with the London Philharmonic,’ or more vague like, ‘put college off indefinitely so I can figure out what I really want,’ you have your own opinion of what sort of direction or goal you should be working towards right now. But how do you get from here to there? How do you even begin to begin? Let me show you how.”

Interested? You can purchase your own copy here on Amazon! And make sure to sign up for my mailing list for further updates on both the book and CollegeRebellion.com.

Happy reading, y’all!

Announcement

Announcements: Books, side projects, and more!

While on the topic of moving forward, I have some general Announcements of Interest to bring to your attention:

Announcement

  • Dreaming Your Dream: How to figure out what you want to bring to the world is a little e-book I wrote a couple of years ago and have been offering in beta (i.e., very functional but still significantly lacking in quality) for free since something like May of 2012.  But now I want to take some time to refine it into a Real Book!  It will be longer, with tons more information and inspiration.  To embark on this project I will be taking its baby version away forever after this Saturday, April 12th at 11:59pm.  So, email me now if you want a FREE beta copy (which comes with an optional Book Feedback offer), or forever hold your peace!  All you have to do is e-mail me via this contact page and let me know you want it.
  • On and off since 2011 I have been writing for a website called The Unschooler Experiment, which is a site by and for older/grown unschoolers, second generation unschooling parents, and new-to-unschooling parents as well.  After an extended hiatus where everybody associated with unschooler.com was far beyond too busy to work on the site, we are proud to announce that we will be producing new and upcoming content again in the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, check out my (guess what?) college-related articles and posts here: http://www.unschooler.com/author/jessicabarker
  • I have recently started my own personal website, which for now I’ve named “College Sellout” since I’ve been ruminating quite hard on going back to at least take some classes if not eventually aim for a degree.  My About page touches more on that subject and my further motivation behind these choices.  I also recommend checking out my post on finding meaning, Does Life Have to be Meaningful? which I almost posted as a College Rebellion essay instead.
  • College Rebellion is now accepting PayPal donations!  Like most people, I don’t like blatantly asking for money – I would like to keep this website free, but I also want to continue having the time to expand and improve upon it on a regular basis. By no means do I think nor intend that I should be surviving solely on donations from this website, but even if everyone that College Rebellion has truly helped donated a penny, that is one minute more that I’m home plugging away on CR and not having to be away making ends meet otherwise.  Whether you choose to give or not, I just want to say thank you for all of your moral support these past years, you guys are the best!!

Remember, though I might not be the most timely correspondent, I love getting e-mails from you all, whether they are a simple ‘hello’ to a complete and utter desperate cry for help out of the school or life hole you find yourself in, the point of this site is and always has been to find others like me and let you know you aren’t alone.  So please, feel free to e-mail me through the contact page and strike up a correspondence, ask questions, apply for a personalized list of Awesome Resources, and/or offer your own suggestions for resources and posts.  As you may have noticed, I am open to post ideas coming from people other than myself, Q&A posts, and guest posts.

Keep up the good work, everyone… don’t forget to network with other College Rebels in the Facebook Group – College Rebels | Beyond College | Life Without College | Lifelong Learners, and have a great weekend!

~Jessica

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Perseverance

fb persThis is part 3 of a 3-part series.  

I got an e-mail a while ago from a college drop-out named Juan who is now focusing his time on becoming a composer. He raised a very good question that has now inspired this entry:

“How much time is enough for your goals? Sometimes I feel like I am not putting enough time into my work. I’m not the type to make a schedule and setup a complicated system, but what is a more general, realistic view? 10 hours a week? 20 hours a week? 1 hour per day? 2? If I don’t work on something one day, I’ll justify to myself because ‘I worked 5 hours yesterday.’ Am I taking a more difficult approach? (I know there is no right way, but some rules can apply. I just want to make sure that I’m not becoming stagnant.) Or maybe any amount of time is enough, since ultimately it leads to my goals.”

Juan hit the nail on the head with the last bit of commentary: what matters is accomplishing your goals, not how much time you put into something.

Music is a good example of something that requires lots of self-discipline to practice and/or create. The hours per day or week in this case would be according to what you personally need in order to stay “in shape” for your skill. However, you could practice for hours upon hours and at the end just have a bunch of hours under your belt but no concrete accomplishments.

In this case, what matters most is setting concrete, attainable goals for yourself.

First, you need a Big Ultimate Goal – there’s a chance you already have that in mind. But you need to check it – is it clearly defined? Do you have a specific deadline for its accomplishment?

Examples of good Big Ultimate Goals are:

– Memorize 10 classical piano pieces on the piano by August 31st
– Navigate all 7 tracks of the bouldering cave at the rock climbing gym without touching the ground by August 31st

The more concrete these Big Ultimate Goals are, the easier it will be to pace yourself towards them.

In pacing yourself, little milestones need to be set between now and the accomplishment of the Big Ultimate Goal. Sometimes this is easily calculable – e.g., if you give yourself a week to read a book, then you just divide the number of pages by 7.

In the instance of any sort of learned skill, it’s best to set goals with higher and higher difficulty levels. Start with something just barely above what you are already super-comfortable doing, and go from there. “Memorize first three movements of ______ by Friday,” or “navigate the entirety of the bouldering wall with the slight extra lean flawlessly by the end of the next climbing session.” These sorts of “little goals” really are a must: if you don’t have them, you do not keep accomplishing things towards your ultimate goal, and might even quit from lack of drive. So set them as often as possible – daily goals are highly recommended, even if they are relatively tiny.

And don’t forget: nobody is looking over your shoulder to see if you are doing so-and-so many hours a week. I know it is very difficult to break from habits of going to a school where a certain amount of time must be spent on something or it doesn’t count. In self-education, though, your time spent is not what justifies what you are learning: the end result does. I have a friend who is an excellent pianist, but has always practiced infrequently and sporadically – he doesn’t need to do hours and hours of scales. At the same time, his brother spends hours, on the court and off, shooting hoops – and it may not even be that he needs to, but he wants to keep practicing. (See my post back on my old blog: “Unschooling Yourself.”)

A good suggestion from my pal Blake is to have “deliverables” – concrete proof that you are getting things done so that some of your more intangible accomplishments aren’t floating around wondering whether they have any purpose. You do often have something actually tangible (like you can now play that particular Chopin piece), but then sometimes you have to record this milestone by writing about it, or taking a video or pictures, etc. Creating such deliverables is not only good for you to keep track of your progress, but they make it easy to stay accountable to others, whether it’s with a specific person or online on a website or blog.

Website or blog?

Take for instance, cooking. When you feel like cooking, sometimes you could just go all day and not stop. And you end up with lots of amazing food. That you can photograph and put in your food-photography portfolio that you then publish on your obsessed-with-cooking blog that you started writing with the help of the “food writing” class you just took at the local community center.

If you don’t like cooking, I’m sure you have another obsession that you could do all day and then blog about.

I hope this series has helped! Remember, you can e-mail me at any time with questions, suggestions, stories, and anything else you can possibly come up with.

You can also e-mail me to let me know that you want to read my new e-book!  It is packed full of more guidance, tips, ideas, and many other things I have just barely touched on in the “Three P’s” series.  (In case you didn’t get the memo… it’s free!)

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Passion

This is part two of a 3-part series. Click here to read part 1, “Purpose.”

I have many hesitations about going to college, most of which I have addressed on this blog. But I think one of the “more main” issues I have with the system is you have to pick one thing to study for four or more years. Then, at the end, you must use that study to pursue a career in that same thing for the rest of your young, agile life.

I just think that idea is gross. Why? Because I have about 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 interests that I might want to study in-depth at any given time.

Still, even while I am not going the “one thing forever” route, I will (begrudgingly) admit that it is more effective to narrow current studies to only three, two, or (gasp!) one thing at a time.

Oh. Em. Gee.

NEVER.

How in the world are you supposed to do that??

Yes, you. I am talking to you.

No, no, certainly you can maintain reading twelve books at once and listening to five iTunes U series and doing a 3-days-a-week self-defense class, a Spanish immersion class, volunteering at the SPCA and work-trading at a local farm… as well as making sure your house stays relatively clean and your pets aren’t neglected and you eat sometimes, oh and that you actually work your 35 hours at your job so you can, ahem, pay your bills on time. Yup, it’s been done before – no prob, Bob.

But in the case that you actually want to get some sleep here and there, I’d suggest asking yourself some questions to narrow things down for the time being. Because once you find 1, 2, or 3 things to focus on, you can optimize your energy and learn more than you can when you are spread out over a billion things.

1)”What do I really get excited about?”

– Ask yourself and your family and friends what really makes you light up. For example, I have a friend Tara who loves a lot of things, but nine out of ten times you’ll probably find her bubbling over ecstatically about uteri, placentas, fallopian tubes, and general birth-related topics. Anybody who knows Tara knows what she loves to do – work with pregnant and postpartum mothers and deliver babies!

2) “What do I get mad about?”

– I know one sure thing that gets me riled up, and that is captive animals not provided with the proper-sized enclosures and/or sufficient resources. Most normal zoos do a pretty good job of this, but in my travels I have run across many street-side tourist trap petting zoos and animal parks are hardly proper for their animals that are supposed to live a certain way out in the wild. Every time I see one of these places, I don’t just get sad: I get MAD. And then I start thinking of ways to remedy this problem. Herein lies an indicator of a passion of mine.

3) “What do I think about often, and how do I think about it?”

– Do you write poetry in your head? Do you like discussing the politics of ancient Rome? Do you find yourself going on rants about herbal medicine or staring, googley-eyed, at sets of fancy kitchen knives?

Once you have determined some of the more definite passions in your life, ask yourself why:

– Why do I get all jittery about life springing forth from life and organs that re-grow themselves?

– Why do I cry hot, angry tears when I see black bears pacing in their enclosures?

– Why does my heart hurt every time I see a photograph of an African landscape?

Even if you can’t put your finger on the answer, you now know you need to DO something with that heartfelt passion. Delve into it. Research it on the internet, read books, watch documentaries, find experts and pick their brains, start volunteering or create an internship with a relevant organization/business nearby.

I hope this helps you pick out a couple of things to focus on for the time being that are super-important to you. It’s definitely helped me. Now go do it!

Want more suggestions on how to figure “it” out, and/or how to pursue these passions? Then you should read my new e-book, Life Without College – The Method! It’s free! All you need to do is send me an e-mail via my handy-dandy contact form, telling me you want it. I’ll reply with the PDF of Life Without College – The Method as soon as I possibly can.

Stay tuned for the last post in the series, Perseverance!

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Purpose

This is part one of a 3-part series.

I always talk about success and doing what you love, but never address a perfectly large portion of the population, especially of the “skipping college” population: those who don’t exactly care what they do. I don’t mean complacent people; I mean people who just want to live their life. If you’re one of these people, you know what I mean, and since I’m writing this for you, it doesn’t really matter if I explain myself or not.

This is a sentiment I’ve expressed myself before. Our culture, while wonderful, has its flaws: the need to achieve and be epically successful is pressed upon everyone, including those who would much rather lie low and play the ukulele as they watch trains whistle past their house.

You probably feel perfectly contented and possibly even excited about just putting in the hours at a job that pays the bills so you can come home and do what you want to: read a book, play guitar, visit with friends, knit scarves, play video games, think about oatmeal, whatever it happens to be. My talk of “success” perhaps doesn’t completely register; also, I’m sure it belittles the satisfaction you feel as you carry on in your daily life.

So I want to tell you something that you probably already know, but I know it’s easier when you’re not the only one holding this belief up for yourself: you don’t have to “grow up” and pick something. Yes, of course everyone needs to make some sort of a living at some point to support yourself and maybe one day your family: so you get a job. You can make a pretty decent living waiting tables, or you could use a talent you already have to do something like give piano lessons, just for a couple ideas.

With this website, I want to emphasize and encourage the truth that nobody seems to want to admit these days: every person is legitimate in what they want to do, what they find their purpose in. Even if it doesn’t include a 4,000 square foot house, a private jet, and season NFL tickets.

You don’t have to be crazily passionate about what pays the bills! Sure, we would all like to like what we are doing all the time, and there’s nobody saying you can’t like a job just because it’s not “your DREAM.” But, whatever the end result happens to be, I can firmly attest there ain’t nothin’ like putting in your hours so you can come home and freely do exactly what you want to do.

DSCN9782So do it! And don’t let anybody tell you that you must do otherwise.

Still need help figuring out what you want to do to make money?

Click here for the next in this series, Passion!

This series is loosely based off of “The Three D’s” in my new e-book, Life Without College: The Method – which will be available December 1st, 2014! Please fill out the sign-up form in the sidebar to receive further updates on its release!

Series: The 3 P’s

From my observation, there are three kinds of people in this world:

  • Those who know what they like to do, of course: but don’t know anything they would really like to settle on, or study intensely
  • Those who are super, crazily passionate about 10,000 different things and don’t know if they could ever settle on one
  • Those who know the exact one thing they want and are ready to go and do it.

Chances are, you are one of the first two. If you fall under the latter one instead, congratulations!  (I am seething with jealousy.)

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The next three posts are going to be a series called “The Three P’s”: Purpose, Passion, and Perseverance, in that order.

Purpose will be directed towards the first type: those who are feeling pressure to “grow up” and pick something to be passionate about, but just don’t really care in the face of just loving the life they lead everyday as a perfectly justified person that does stuff.

Passion will address those “ADHDesque” folks who like everything they do so much that they absolutely cannot imagine picking one thing to do for the rest of their lives (which is the group I identify most strongly with). It will help narrow down different areas of interest till there are just 2 or 3 that you can work on at a given time.

Perseverance is for the last group of people, as well as everyone else after they’ve read the first two entries. It will cover identifying concrete goals, reaching milestone accomplishments, and sticking to what you are doing even when you have nobody behind you pushing.

This series is loosely based off of “The Three D’s” in my new e-book, Life Without College: The Method – which is available in beta till 4/24/14.  Please contact me if you would like to stay updated on its official release around 12/01/14!

We also now have a Facebook group called College Rebels | Beyond College | Life Without College | Lifelong Learners.  Please join us now to share self-education resources (blogs, articles, opportunities, websites, etc.) ideas, stories, advice, and more with a great community of like-minded individuals!

Stay tuned this weekend, folks!