My Introvert Considers College


Dear Reed,

I get it. More than you know. The other day when it was mentioned that some people have talents so great they skip right over college, I saw the relief wash over your face, and I remembered being your age. College, college, was what everybody talked to me about, but the very idea of communal living filled me with absolute dread.

I wasn’t afraid of it, per se, and I’m not especially awkward with people, but I thought I couldn’t psychologically tolerate being in a situation where I had no space of my own. The idea was abhorrent to me.

So I dug in my heels and refused to go, and I think you see how that turned out. I’ve worked all my life at jobs that barely get me by. I want better than that for you, sweetheart. Staying holed up in a dark bedroom playing with a computer may be fairly normal when you’re a teenager, but it’s not gonna fly when you’re thirty…and thirty comes faster than you think.

So first of all: you can go to school online, or you can commute to school and live at home. If you apply yourself, you can get a degree. And a degree is a nice piece of paper that I admit I’d like to have, because the lack of it has barred me from plenty of jobs I was perfectly capable of doing. A degree from an online school or the local commuter college is better than nothing.

But as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to understand that  college is supposed to be more than four more years of tedious book-learning. It’s designed to help kids like you transition into competent adults. You’re supposed to live independently and you’re expected to screw up sometimes because college years are your training-wheel years. It’s a time when you can become someone a little different than the person your family and your old friends have always known. It’s a time to make contacts with people and organizations who can help propel your future.

It’s a place to learn things that staying home with your parents can’t teach you. You really do have talents and skills that your dad and I admire and are impressed by, and we have no doubt there’s a career path in there somewhere, but we don’t have the faintest idea how to help you find it. We love you so very much, but we don’t know how to help you turn your passion into your job. The best we can do for you is to place you in the hands of people who do know.

We won’t force you, sweetheart. But we hope, for your sake, you’ll at least give it a try.




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