We’ve Moved!

Hello!  The blog Life Without College has relocated to a new, fancy website called College Rebellion!

Over at College Rebellion, you will find a much more extensive resource than I could ever provide here with the blog.  Our rise against social norms is taking on a whole new level.

Check it out!  And don’t forget to check out the new fancy Contact Page, where you can e-mail me about anything you want.  :) 

Looking forward to hearing from you, and enjoy the new site!

Coming Soon!

banner originalIt is my pleasure to announce that tomorrow, March 10th, I will be releasing my new website – College Rebellion.

It’s been a really awesome two-year journey on my Life Without College blog, guys, and your readership has meant everything to me.  What started as a little angry idea has grown into something amazing that actually helps people, and that makes me so happy.

I want to continue supporting, encouraging, inspiring, and providing resources for all of you choosing to blaze your own paths in the realm of higher education.  A full-fledged website, I feel, will best accomplish this. 

The website will start out very basic (it will eventually have the whole of this blog installed on it), but I hope to grow College Rebellion into a multi-media site, providing resources on every aspect imaginable of the Life Without College. 

Stay tuned for the release tomorrow!  I love you all!

~Jess

Don’t Leave ‘em in the Dust

I’ve noticed over the past couple of years that it is often very easy to run over people who care about you when going for your goals and dreams. Mostly, this comes down to family. For some reason, the most important people in the world to us (and it’s a two-way street) are taken for granted. Now, some people may be amazing at making sure their parents and siblings don’t feel like doormats, and I commend that, and envy it. But I think for a lot of us, it’s something we’ve got to work on.

I’m no expert, of course, but here are some things you can do that I’ve come to see are good for everyone involved:

If you’re away, call home. At least once a week. You probably cannot imagine how much of a difference that makes, but it does. I know in the past my family has felt like I’ve just run off and forgotten about them. This helps such misunderstandings.

If you’re at home or at least in the same town, set aside time for your family, and organize special things, too. Dinners, board games, movie nights. Dinners are especially good ideas. There’s nothing like the whole family sitting down for a couple of hours to chow down and converse, just like when everyone was little, except now the conversation can be more sophisticated. Maybe. Plus mom more than likely appreciates someone else cooking for a change.

Listen to your parents. Uh-oh, I just hit a sour note, didn’t I? Seems to me nobody these days wants anything to do with what their parents have to say. Even though most of us are presumably past the “my parents are embarrassing” stage, I think what has actually happened is that the emotion has morphed into “my parents are stupid interfering busybodies.” But here’s the deal: you want them to respect you and your opinions and lifestyle, right? Then respect theirs. Listen to what they have to say, whether it’s advice, a plea to be home for Christmas, whatever it happens to be. This doesn’t mean you have to be compliant, but at least consider it; don’t automatically reject everything they say as BS. Your parents care about you more than you could possibly understand, will always be there for you, and truly want the best for you, always. Besides, it’s really probably a bad idea to assume you know more about life and the world than someone more than twice your age. Nobody’s perfect, we all know that. But your parents were made your parents for a reason. And don’t forget to show them you love them (see the two above paragraphs).

Set a good example for your younger siblings. I am the oldest in our family, and unfortunately I will never be able to understand how entirely influential my existence is to my younger brothers. Sometimes they tell me, or it comes out in their actions. I’ve done what feels like a million horrible things, most of which they know about or have found out about. From watching friends my age who have older siblings, it’s harsh. On the one hand, when that older sibling does something not entirely commendable, like starts smoking or drinking excessively for instance, that younger sibling feels very distraught. But at the same time, something happens in the psyche: part of the younger sibling looks up to the older sibling forever loyally, feeling like the older sibling can do no wrong. So when the younger sibling gets older, he or she might justify the same actions by “my older brother/sister did it, so it can’t be that bad.”

This is hugely important. You don’t want your younger siblings to overdose on heroin and die just because you happened to snort cocaine a few times, do you? This may sound extreme, but I have some pretty nasty stories of similar occurrences. It’s a big deal. And really, if you don’t want your younger siblings to ever be doing the things you try to keep hidden from them, then you probably shouldn’t be doing them either. Just sayin’.

Also, if you are a younger sibling, make sure to constantly let your older siblings know how you look up to them. I can attest that it certainly helps if that older sibling is doing something not-very-admirable.

So, dear readers, always remember that your family is your most intimate set of friends. They are not your worst enemies. In the end, they are going to be there for you and love you unconditionally above any friends you may at present regard higher.

Now, go hug those family members and tell them thank you for putting up with you.

“I Could Never Do That!” – Self-Limitation

My mom and I hear enough statements of “I could never do that!” to fill an entire anthology of Tolstoy’s works. For mom, it is in reaction to finding out she is homeschooling/homeschooled my siblings and me. For me, it is because I am paving my own “path o’ higher ed”; basically, homeschooling myself.

What are these people trying to say? Are they trying to use flattery of some sort? Are they out of a loss of anything else to say? Maybe, I don’t know. What it sounds to me is a bunch of people limiting their children and themselves, respectively.

I think, more often than not, it translates to “I don’t want to do that because it would ruin my chances at getting a job that pays any more than minimum wage.” And I wonder if that would be followed by a “….but I wish I could.”

Whatever it is, what I mainly want to address with this is, “Si, se puede.” Yes, you can. If you want liberation from the conventional schooling environment, and learn what you want to learn when you want to do it, but just KNOW you “could never do that” – you are dead wrong. Shut up those voices of Everyone and Everything Else in your head. Turn up that voice inside of your heart. Listen.

Keep this in mind when making your New Years resolutions, list of goals, or whatever you’re doing in preparation for the year to come: that little voice in your head speaks Spanish sometimes. “Si, se puede.”

ADHD: a Gift?

They don’t call it a “learning disability” exactly; they call it an “other health impairment” (Understanding ADHD). But it’s just a bunch of labeling-words, so it doesn’t matter. They put you on mind-altering drugs and/or stick you in a “special” classroom with other “disabled” children. Nobody even considers that, perhaps, not everyone’s brain is supposed to work the same way.

I was incredibly blessed to have been born to parents who did not put me in an institution where this would have been the case. But imagine if I had. What if I had grown up being told I was wrongly different and that I must shape up or take a pill to shape me up? I don’t even want to think how drastic of a contrast that would be to my life.

But I would have been categorized and medicated. I was that (all so very typical) kind of kid: hyper, silly, flippant, not very attentive, etc. I know I drove a lot of people crazy because my youngest brother is the same way and sometimes I want to sit on him until he calms down. (I don’t.)

I was talking with one of my gardening clients one morning and she was telling me about her ADHD (adult) son and how he was incredibly active all the time, always doing something… rafting, building stuff, biking, swing dancing, etc.  Her other son is very not-ADHD, and is quite the workaholic, working 12-hour days, never really seeing anybody or doing anything he cares about.  Who do you think enjoys life more?

That conversation with my client sparked somewhat of a hypothesis in my mind: what if ADHD wasn’t a curse, but actually an advantageous personality trait?

Thusly prompted, I set out the next morning to do research. I didn’t have to look far. Almost immediately I found two articles by the same name: “ADHD as a Gift.” The first one was more anecdotal, someone writing about their own child: http://www.aish.com/f/p/48931672.html. The second one was more scientific, and thus hugely informative, realistic, and even encouraging: http://www.ivillage.com/gift-adhd/6-a-128377?p=3.

So what’s the matter with being ADHD? I think, if you feel like you have some “ADHD symptoms”, then take it as a sign – you’d do better, or are doing better, finding your own way in the world of higher education. The way things are typically taught are just not the best for your highly-concentrated learning style. But also, don’t let the illusion of it being a disorder keep you from pursuing an education via college. It may mean you have to bend your ways a little to meet what needs to be done, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

On that note, a few days ago, I wrote a small article on how to test out whether college classes work for you for The Unschooler Experiment. Here it is: Crashing College Classes.

It’s so important to be aware of how we learn and work best. I work best switching between activities often, usually moving around a lot if possible. I also like to write and read, but I usually mix these things in with bike-riding or gardening, that kind of thing. How do you learn best?

Vive Furiale!

A very good friend of mine recently found himself living too complacently in life. Whatever happened just sort of “ran over” him and he was left shrugging apathetically as the wet blanket of the situation. He knew he was tiring of his position but didn’t know if there was anything he felt like doing about it.

Passionate anger was building up inside him and it was starting to surface in ways that were hurting the ones around him and were certainly not doing any good for him. He started to meditate on this and presently found himself coining a Latin phrase (for Latin is one of his favorite things) as his new life philosophy: “Vive furiale!” Which translates as: “Live furiously!”

We have all felt the same way; things make us mad. A new guy comes into work and immediately snags the position you have been trying to work up to for months. You’ve been working as hard as you can on your skills and knowledge of your favorite subject, and yet there always seems to be someone better than you. Nobody seems to be accepting your work applications or returning your calls about a purchase you want to make from them for your business.

It’s very easy just take the anger in stride, either allowing it to boil inside us, or attempting to ignore it and hoping it just goes away after a while. Often we let it bring us down to the point where we avoid it and anything else associated with it, and we’d rather just lie in bed and pretend the world doesn’t exist with all its ridiculous responsibilities.

But what if, instead, we took that frustration and turned it into good stuff?

Anger is energy. And all too often that energy gets channeled into something that taxes your mind and body. Very recently I watched a National Geographic documentary about how stress can kill you. So we here at Life Without College do not recommend you die so defeated.

It takes a little thought and effort, but frustrated energy can be channeled into working harder, better, and faster. Your mind is going super-fast: use it to come up with new ideas and solutions for the issue at hand. Your body is probably capable of running a marathon right now with the amount of horsepower you are generating: use it to learn more, make more, work harder, make more phone calls and make them assertively. Whatever needs to be done, do it now with this newfound vigor!

Consider it a challenge, because it really is: someone has dared you or said, “I bet you couldn’t _____!” Of course that gets you riled up and of course you want to prove that person wrong. Do it!

This doesn’t mean that you have to live in anger all the time. That’s no fun. No, I’m talking about a way to blow off steam that is not only healthy but extremely productive and proactive. Taking negative energy and transferring it into making positive progress. It not only helps you when something has gotten you down, it also solves the problem.

Vive furiale today, everyone!

Is College Right for Me?

A few days ago I wrote and published an article over at The Unschooler Experiment beseeching everyone to take as much time as they might possibly need to decide whether the 4+ years and tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars are invested into a college education.

The article is one of many I will be writing as the new associate editor of the “College” section of The Unschooler Experiment. Which I am really stoked about, by the way.

Although this article and the ones to follow will be foremost directed at homeschoolers/unschoolers considering college, at their core they all are applicable wherever you are in life:

“It’s hard to tune the ‘College is the answer to finding success in your future life’ message out and make an educated decision for yourself. How do you decide, on your own, whether college is right for you?”

I go on to list several questions and actions you can take to optimize your conscious decision-making process. Check it out – I can guarantee they’ll help you! Feel free to e-mail me with any questions or suggestions.