I'm 30, and I have an associate's degree, but most people seem to disregard that. They think that if you don't have a bachelor's degree, you're a complete garbage failure. I don't have a bachelor's degree. I think a lot about the problems I've had trying to finish college, and there's a few points where I think if I or my parents had just changed one thing I could have had a significantly better outcome by now.
The first, most significant change I wish for is to have homeschooled from the beginning instead of going to kindergarten. I went to daycare for 4 years before kindergarten. I don't know why my mom sent me to daycare when we lived in austin, because I thought my dad's work schedule was opposite my mom's. Maybe he worked during the day back then, or maybe he thought I'd be too loud and he needed to sleep, or maybe they thought a sleeping parent wasn't enough supervision for a 3-5-year-old. But once I was 5 I started playing outside by myself for hours, sometimes I went an entire day without even seeing my parents. When I was 6 or so, I started being left alone home for a couple of hours sometimes. When I started taking the bus home, sometimes I'd be alone for a while after my dad left and before my mom got home. So, even if my parents wanted me to go to kindergarten, so they could use it as daycare, there would have been a point at which they probably would have been ok with me just staying home. The earlier the better. I was interested in math and my mom gave me some of her old math workbooks. I would happily have done those and read other nonfiction books instead of going to school if I'd been given the chance. That was in 5th grade, and 5th grade was one of the worst school years. It's hard to say if 5th or 7th was worse, but they are the top two. We didn't have videogames, which is what people are always afraid kids will spend all their time on if they don't have to go to school. In VA, we didn't have a playground, so my outside time was spent riding my bike or skating. I watched tv and I read a lot of fiction. And I did those math books my mom gave me. I think if I'd been told "you get to do school at home now", I would have sought more educational material. I did it anyway, even though I had to go to school, and the stuff I chose was always more interesting than the school crap. So, either being homeschooled from age 5, or switching to homeschooling at literally any point before I did would have been an improvement. I switched to homeschooling in 11th grade, but I think it was kinda too late to matter at that point.
When I was 15, I wanted to apply to TAMS, texas academy of math and science. But my mom said she talked to my dad about it and they decided they weren't ready for me to leave home. I thought, "who gives a fuck if YOU'RE ready? it's MY life. I'm the one who has to suffer for your decision. And you fucking hate me, we don't spend time together, so why on earth do you fucking care if I leave????" I didn't get an answer to that question. I don't think I asked it. I still can't fathom why my parents would give a shit if I'm in their house or in a dorm. The only thing I can think of is they wanted to assert ownership over me? or they thought they were *supposed* to care so they pretended to? I don't know if I would have succeeded at tams, but I should have been allowed the chance to try.
In 11th grade, I switched to homeschooling because I was suspended from school for 40 days, and they said I had to go to an alternative school and the 40 days wouldn't start counting down until I started attending that other school. The alternative school, the name of which I used to know but now can't remember, didn't offer most of the classes I was taking because I was in honors/AP stuff, doing the distinguished achievement graduation plan. I found the whole thing ridiculous so I switched to homeschooling. In january of the 11th grade I started taking "dual credit" college classes at community college. At some point before 12th grade started, my mom said she was thinking about moving to dallas because it would be closer to her job. Her current commute was 45 minutes. I happily said "yes let's do that! then I can go to a school in dallas and do their DA plan and just graduate high school a year late!" but with no explanation my mom decided not to move to dallas after all. Did she even consider my desires? Maybe she considered them and decide not to move because she hated me and wanted me to suffer.
After I "graduated" from homeschooling, I got a scholarship to tarleton, because I won a math competition at the community college. When I went to the orientation in the summer, I started realizing I really didn't want to do this at all. I wanted to keep going to community college instead, or just go off somewhere random and get a random minimum wage job. My mom yelled me into going to tarleton anyway. She said "you're too smart not to go to college." I said there are people in her own family (her siblings) who are smart and didn't go to college and are successful, but she didn't find that persuasive. She just yelled at me (this was over the phone, I called her while I was at the orientation to tell her I didn't want to go here after all) until I agreed to go. I'm not sure what I could have done here. I mean, my mom could have listened to me and come to pick me up and let me just live with her and go to community college again, but she didn't want to agree to that. What if I'd just refused to go to tarleton? Would she have kicked me out of the house? Would she really be that opposed to community college?
My first year at tarleton was almost basically a complete failure. I signed up for 18 credits in the fall and then 12 in the spring. I dropped 17 in the fall, leaving on the freshman honors seminar (one of the requirements for the scholarship) which I got an A in, because it was easy and only met once a week and required only about 30 minutes of work outside of class per week. In the spring, I dropped 3 hours, thus using up all my drops, failed 7 hours and got an A in the 2-hour archery class. After all that nonsense, my mom seemed to have come to her senses and didn't object when I was talking about going to community college again, BUT after I'd told her excitedly about my plan to return to CC and how great that would be because when I went there before I got A's in 8 out of 10 classes I took, and I got a B and a C in the other two, and doesn't that just bode well compared to 6 W's, 2 F's and 2 A's? she finally said "there's something that might mess up your plans. We're moving to arkansas." And I was like WTF why didn't you ever tell me about this before? why didn't you mention you were THINKING about moving? why didn't you tell me as soon as you decided? I wanted to stay in fort worth where my friends were, and I wanted to follow through on my CC plan. I found someone to live with, but after 1 day it proved to be too stressful, and I moved to arkansas with my parents anyway. And my dad hated me for it. He complained for years about how it wasn't supposed to be this crowded (4 people instead of 3) and my room was supposed to be an extra room for them to use however they wanted. (That happened again when we moved to dallas, for a different reason. I wasn't expecting to live with them, but then I did, and my dad complained about it, and complained that me and my brother were adults and wouldn't gtfo all the time for years.) My mom later said she wishes she hadn't moved to arkansas. So we both would have been happier to stay in fort worth and I could have gone to TCC. I already had 34 credits. It would have taken me maybe one more year to finish an associate's degree.
But we moved to arkansas. I signed up for classes at ualr, where my mom was teaching. I got 3 A's and 1 B. But I was really miserable there. I had no friends. My mom wouldn't let me go anywhere. Then I went back to tarleton the next semester. It was better, I did better in classes that time, I enjoyed myself more than in arkansas, but it went downhill. I think school-wise, it would have been better to stay at ualr. (i did two more semesters at ualr mixed in there, though, and my grades at ualr were better, but I was depressed and at all the time and gained about 50 lbs and got up to 227.) By the time we moved to dallas, in 2011, i'd exceeded the number of attempted hours you're allowed at in-state tuition prices, so if I'd gone to school in texas it would have cost a fuckton. Like twice as much as before. in 2012, I almost decided to go back to tarleton anyway, even though it would cost a lot more, but then I didn't for some reason. Like, there was a particular reason that made me change my mind, but I can't remember what it was.
So I went back to ualr again, and lived in a dorm, because my parents weren't there anymore. I spent the next 5 years being depressed and failing most of my classes and I took two semesters off somewhere in there due to overwhelming depression and hating school, and now here we are I'm still doing the same thing, except now I'm living in an apartment with hunter. I am closer to graduating, but it still seems impossibly far off.
I think the last point at which I could have pulled this out of the garbage shoot is 2007, when I went back to tarleton. If I hadn't done that, I think it would have been better in the long run.
It would have been better still if my mom hadn't take the job in arkansas.
It would have been even better still if I'd never gone to tarleton in the first place.
And before that, the possible change was homeschooling. It's harder to predict where that would have led though.