I was listening to The Music Makers podcast the other week and the host featured an article about this guy who got his degree at Berklee College of Music in two years. It wasn’t his plan. A former student/professor from Berklee told him “I’ll bet I can teach you two years’ of theory and arranging in only a few lessons. I suspect you can graduate in two years if you understand there’s no speed limit.”
This 17-year-old student took the professor up on the offer. With his help, this young man did, indeed, get his degree in 2 years from the Berklee College of Music.
“…there’s no speed limit.”
I was about 17 when I started out on my path to college. Still finishing up my high school requirements, I was made aware of something very similar to the Berklee student.
You can get your degree in two years. CLEP tests, DSSTs,…transfer credits…work at your own pace. You can get it done fast. And you can do it debt free!
A BA in two years. Yeah, I was up for that.
Yeeeeeah, that’s not at all what happened. It took me more like…*ahem* 8 years.
People pleasers don’t like letting other people down. I’m a people pleaser who told people I was going to get my degree in less than the standard 4 years. Cause I was going the unconventional route. Bright eyed, bushy tailed, with lots of grand notions about what my educational path was going to be, I was not ready for what was to come.
By the time I was 20, I knew I’d lost out on my window of time. Resigned to the notion that I needed something more substantial than the Communications degree I was pursuing, I went to medical assistant school. In 8 short months, I’d interned at a hospital, and landed a job in the front office of a dental clinic. Seventeen-year-old me was not looking for that.
But I had a job. And I was still pursuing my degree. And I hadn’t gotten sucked into the vortex of college debt yet.
The following year, after taking as many CLEP tests, DSST exams, and Straighterline courses I could possibly take, I transferred them to Thomas Edison State College. By that time I was working in a medical clinic. I had a job. And I was pursuing my degree. And I finally had my first college loan. Small vortex, but sucked in just the same.
“…there’s no speed limit.”
The Berklee professor-turned-music-studio-owner was completely right. There is no speed limit when it comes to education. That message resonated with me when I heard it but dug up a tinge of chagrin. My plan was that two-year degree. Homeschoolers are known for being unconventional and disregarding the standard pace. But my story didn’t go as planned.
Thankfully, the logic works both ways. No speed limits means that it’s okay when you have to slow down. No one is keeping track when there are detours and pit stops.
My story is my own, rich with experience that I am forever grateful for. My education was my own unconventional creation, done on my terms which was the point in the first place.
I’m in no way saying that college is wasted on the young but I will say that, as mature as I’m often told I am, I know that 24-year-old me appreciated some of those later classes more than 20-year-old me would have. I cranked out more seasoned work and the zillion papers I wrote came from a richer place. That’s a good feeling.
Now, 25, I sit in the open air of the early morning. The sun is waking up, my morning tea is getting cold in the delicious a.m. chill and I’m waiting for my diploma to arrive in the mail. Lol. I’ve gotten other pieces of paper accolading my accomplishments but this one is different because I worked hardest for it. Like the tortoise in the story, I kept up my pace, slow as it was, and finished the race I’d set out to complete.
I am content with my story. It was not perfect. I would tweak it if I could. But I love the journey I took and I’m grateful for the experience I have now tucked into my pocket.
There is no speed limit. I will hang my diploma on the wall and continue with my unconventional life.