Well, it's settled -- no college degree for me.
Talking with a "Donna" on the phone today set me straight. I had hoped that my "life experience" might allow me to skip through the academic tulips with a few essays and little (preferably no) financial outlay. No soap. There were a bunch of required courses (logic, math, science etc., none of which bang my chimes) and a big financial bite into the bargain.
But the conversation made me realize that most of what I have done in my life has had little to do with what others thought of what I could do (the meaning of a degree). From packing Popsicles to running property lines in the Oregon woods to helping to repair bridges to army language school to book publishing to news-papering to painting apartments to Zen Buddhism ... it was all pretty much based on what I could do and less on what badges I could put on display.
The one notable exception was when I applied for work at a book publishing house. The high-ranking editor who interviewed me was old school. We talked for a while and then he asked bluntly, "So, do you want a job or not?" I was not entirely sure I did, but I said I did. "OK," he replied, "let me call the personnel department and get this college crap out of the way." I don't know what would have happened if I had been interviewed by someone who didn't dare to be wrong, someone who depended on certificates instead of personal assessment ... someone more shrouded in testicular fragility.
Looking back, as I found myself doing when talking to Donna, I was rather pleased. Of course, it had been a different time, a time when a college degree was not a sine qua non for employment, but still ... I had pretty much been a prove-by-doing type.
A college degree is no good unless you haven't got one. There are more of them than us, so I will push my younger son to reel in a degree. But I am fortunate to have lived in a time less rife with paper trails. I would have done something if Donna had charted a course more to my liking, but she didn't and I don't really mind. It's like levitation -- what the hell would you do with it if you had it?
I am mildly pleased to have put a period on that sentence.