I always planned to go to college. Ever since I was four, when I planned to go to UA and become a teacher.
I got straight As all through elementary school – I had to work hard to get a scholarship some day because from the age of four I was told my parents would never be able to afford my schooling.
Even when my family started homeschooling, got involved in the patriarchy/quiverfull movement, and started raising me to be a wife. I still planned to go to college.
In homeschooling, i pretty much taught myself from books my mother picked out – except for my literature most years, when i chose my own books from a huge list of classics. I did take some co-op classes, one of which taught me logic, and i later devoured every book on logic in the house (which wasn’t all that many), and I took an english class, in which we studied a little literature and I finally learned to write an essay. I didn’t do much writing in highschool, except that which i took on myself, when we wrote Call To Battle.
For many girls who grow up in the fundamentalist homeschooling movement, higher education is never an option, and many of them have been taught not to want it. But as much of those teachings as I imbibed, somehow I never set aside my goal of going to college. So I was a motivated self-teacher in junior high and highschool.
In addition to regular schoolwork, I spent hours each week studying and practicing for my SAT and ACTs (I highly recommend Kaplan materials), and it payed off. I got postcards and packets and ‘congrats, you are accepted’ cards from all over the country. I ended up only going to the local university, a daughter living away from her parents while unmarried was out of the question.
It’s a little surprising, in a sense, that I ever went at all. I was, after all, a fragile and easily led astray daughter.
My mom - who never went to college – questioned whether i ought to go at all, since I was going to be a SAHM, homeschooling my litter of children. My dad – who had a B.S. – mostly brushed that aside, saying my degree would help my someday-husband.
The summer before I started, I put the future of my education in serious jeopardy, by holding hands with a boy once while on a mission trip to Colombia. (I actually considered running away from my team and staying in Colombia, due to the shame, but figured that was a little drastic and also probably illegal). My mom said I shouldn’t go to college since I obviously couldn’t be trusted, but in the end that threat came to nothing.
So I lived at home but spent my days at the school. I liked university a lot, but stressed too much about getting perfect grades. Still, I loved the learning, the teachers, and some of the classmates.
In the midst of my college career, I started courting, then got married.
I dropped out after a couple years, due to my undiagnosed bipolar depression making me feel sick all the time (I’m armchair diagnosing myself in retrospect here). By this time, my parents actually wanted me to finish the degree, but I was living in so much physical pain and mental confusion and anguish that I felt like I couldn’t go on.
Two of my brothers, the ones who are old enough, went to the local university too, also on excellent scholarships. One dropped out because of stupid decisions, and is now slowly finishing his degree. One quit because he felt God was calling him to join the marines, and it would be a sin to wait and finish college before obeying that call. (I’m proud of both of them).
Now I’m back in school, about to finish my first semester back – just one class. I only have to finish rewriting the end of a fairytale. I’m not sure that I’ll be back for good yet, my bipolar depression has been getting bad again and it makes me scared to take another semester right now.
Whatever I end up deciding, I’m proud of myself for taking this class, and I’m proud of my past self for going to college despite all the voices telling her that a woman isn’t worth educating.