RTW: Graduation, Shmaduation

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: How did you spend/how will you spend the summer after graduation?

Well, for me, I have to say that high school graduation was a bit anticlimactic. Don't get me wrong, it was an accomplishment, especially considering on a few occasions it looked like I wouldn't graduate.
You see, I hated school. Loved learning, but didn't feel like there was a lot of learning going on in high school. So I just stopped going (claiming illness to avoid major attention from the truancy office). I averaged 1-2 days of attendance a week.

What was I doing with that time, you ask? Consorting with thieves, criminals, villains, dragons, and wizards. Yes, this rebellious teen was spending her days reading, writing, drawing, and watching TV. Wild, eh? But good practice for my writing career.

But that couldn't go on forever, and it was eventually noticed that I wasn't in school much. I asked about an early exit, so in my sophomore year, I took the CHSPE exam and passed with flying colors. It was meant to allow you to attend college early or just head into the workforce with a diploma equivalent, but there was only one problem: you had to be 16 to drop out of school, and I was only 14 at the time (skipped third grade).

So back to attending the bare minimum of school days, until in my senior year I was starting with a deficit of 190 credits--a full year behind. But alternative high school proved to be a good match for me, because you worked at courses at your own pace. By that time I'd decided I may as well finish school, and whipped through each class in a breakneck 2-4 weeks.

I finished my credits in February, at 16, but by the time the ceremony was held I'd turned 17. And had already found a full-time job managing a pet store, bought a car, and otherwise became a contributing member of society. So the actual ceremony seemed like just an event I went to, without being a big deal by then. And summer was spent working.

But--there's more. I worked straight up until my husband got a nice paying job in his field (with his newly minted BS degree), and was then able to quit my job and attend college full time. Without the distraction of work, I rediscovered my love of learning within an academic environment. So much so that by the time I got my A.A., I had all these extra credits from classes that I took just for fun. Drama, natural history, literature, creative writing, and so on.

For me, that was the equivalent of that feeling of freedom and "anything is possible" that most people associate with that summer after graduation. It was a bit delayed, and ironically involved more school, but there it is.

What about you? Did you have a big summer after graduation or some other milestone? Don't forget to go to the YA Highway post and read all the answers!


Colin Smith said...

That's an interesting story, Angelica. It sounds to me (as a homeschooling parent) that you would have made an ideal candidate for homeschooling. That kind of drive for learning, but on your own terms, might have been nurtured better outside the traditional system. But I guess that's all academic now (har har!). :D

Jaime Morrow said...

I used to teach and during that time I often wondered whether the school system is set up in such a way that it just doesn't work for certain kids. Despite trying to mix things up to meet the needs of a variety of students with different learning styles, I still think there's a long way to go. Far too many kids spend the day bored and get mistaken for being underachievers, which is a crying shame. Something's gotta give, and your story is testament to that.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes wish I'd gone down an alternative path. My collegue at college did a Level 3 course in childcare so she's already a qualified nursery nurse and is now doing a part-time course at university to become a teacher and she can work as she does this. I think sometimes we feel rushed to go to uni, get a job, and start an adult life and sometimes taking things slowly benefits us more.

Katharina Brendel said...

Wow - that is an incredible story! And here I was thinking my graduation summer was crazy ;)

But hats off to you for doing what you wanted and making it. Sometimes the prescribed path is not the right one for everybody and you proved that the alternative way is just as great and valuable! Kudos :)

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Thanks for the comments, all! Yes, some of my nieces and nephews did homeschooling or charter schools, and they thrived under those models. My family just isn't wired the same as everyone else!

But one nephew in particular is following my same pattern and I see how frustrating it is for his mom. Nothing works as a punishment or a reward, because he's content doing his own thing, in his own company.

Crystal said...

I had a hard time with attendance as well... I think traditional high school education serves the middle of the road kids, but for smarter kids or those with different learning styles, it really fails.

Glad you got a happy ending though!

Stephsco said...

School is definitely a different experience once you want to be there -- and college quite different than high school. :)

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