My parents had an interesting way of looking at "higher education." They seemed to believe in the journey more than the end result. When it came to whether or not to go to college, they were never hell-bent on it being a "must do." They supported me pursuing any means it took to get me to my individual end. They always said that one needed to find his or her own path to get wherever they needed to go. If college is what it takes, go to college. If trade school, go to trade school. For me, performing arts high school did the trick.(so far.)
A weird thing began to happen about three and four years into my career with the ballet. My childhood friends began graduating from college. It was a difficult thing for me to grasp at that time because in a way I felt left out, but it was much easier to shrug it off since I felt on top of the world having already completed four seasons supporting myself and living alone practically unaided by my parents.
That was several years ago. Now, as I embark on this next phase, I have been having some slight(and I do mean slight) anxiety issues surrounding my lack of higher education. While I do have a few college credits to under my belt, I decided early on that if I were ever to do school, I would want to do it all at once. I have no interest in the twenty year plan. It works for some dancers, but for someone with a short attention span who isn't the biggest fan of school, I would need to completely immerse myself in it in order to succeed. Sometimes now that my ballet company career is winding down, I feel nervous about the future from an educational stand point. I've often joked that one needs a degree these days in order to get a job bagging groceries! A resume that states that I danced the role of "Blue Bird" in "Sleeping Beauty" isn't much help compared to "4.0 from Chapel Hill" when it comes to booking a job in the "real world."
I spent much of my life saying "I'm never going to college," but now that I'm looking ahead I need to state how much respect(and a small bit of jealousy) I have for those who have degrees.
The flip side of this whole issue is that I need to point out that I work with and have met some of the most intelligent people in this field and many of us have the "no college degree" thing in common. In a world that looks down on people for such a thing as this, I am honored to be able to buck the system! In a way, not going to school is another way that dancers sacrifice "normality" in order to pursue our passion. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule and I work with a couple of people who have college degrees. Sometimes I'm REALLY jealous of them!
I guess the point of this rambling entry is to point out that we all have different ways of taking our journeys, and I need to be confident in the path I've chosen. I applaud my parents for allowing me to pick my own route, and I encourage other parents to do the same for their kids. For now I'll keep trusting that I've picked the correct path for myself.