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JulyDiaz

EPISODE 20 - Post-secondary Success Strategies

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You're 23, you haven't gone to college, and you feel like a failure. What do you do about it?

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Basically, I've always said college is a great place to go if you don't know what you want to do with your life. I thought I did, but I went anyway because I'd always been told "that's what you do after high school." And I was a terrible student. In part because I didn't like spending time working on things that had no bearing on what I wanted to do with my life, and in part because I had some serious anxiety issues when I was younger that made it impossible to sit in a classroom if I didn't have a seat in the back (but that's another story). I spent about eight years trying to get a degree. At first I thought I'd get a creative writing degree since that was what I did already with my free time. But I thought it would be a better idea to get a degree in something more practical, so I switched to a Journalism major. I finished my major, but still had a couple gen eds to get out of the way. I had a rough year with depression and moved back home to get things in order. I tried enrolling back in the college. They didn't offer online classes so I drove the two hours to a night class once a week. That didn't work out. So I started doing some freelancing without a degree. That was when social media was new. I hadn't learned a lick of social media skills in college, so all that was self taught. I had some minor successes, but ended up falling into a restaurant marketing gig. That went well. After a couple years I landed a marketing director gig for a restaurant group. That was great, I was very successful, but it proved to be life draining. I was still writing on the side because that was my passion. I quit the marketing life and moved across the country to LA to pursue screenwriting. That lasted about a year. I couldn't find steady work and ran out of money and moved back across the country a couple months ago. Mix in a little writer's block, and voila, here I am, at 32 with no idea what's next. I am now one of those people who I say should go to college because I'm not sure what to do and the opportunities for someone with a degree seem vastly greater than for someone without one. Even if I wanted to go back into marketing, I've found most companies want that degree. So I'm thinking of going back to college. Here's the rub. It's been so long, that virtually all of my gen ed credits don't apply, even to the original institution I got them from. What's with the lack of backwards compatibility? It's going to take another solid three years to get a degree, even though when I stopped going to college I was merely one class from getting that degree. It's not fun to "lose" your passion and be unsure of what's next. Going back to college seems like defeat in more ways than one. Thanks for the podcast, guys!

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Guys -- love the new podcast!! However, I think that episode 20's answers were severely misguided. Yes, college is not for everyone and it's an especially expensive way to find oneself if you have not a clue as to what you want to do.

 

Yet, I think that the recent David Brooks column in the New York Times (http://nyti.ms/1G9OhqP) and John Cassidy's article in the New York (http://nyr.kr/1ieNdai) did a much better job of capturing the trade-offs of going or not going to college than either of you did during the podcast.

 

While James may not think that his programming degrees at Cornell did him much good, I think that he may have gotten more out of it than he thinks.

 

As a college professor for the past 16 years, I have plenty of examples of student for whom college was a game changing experience, and some for whom it was not.

 

I hope that you will both be supportive of your children's choices going forward, whether you pay for them or not.

 

Keep up the good work but stick to topics that you can put a more balanced perspective forward.

 

Thanks!

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