For the first time in 18 years, I am not going back to school. As a resident nerd, I always loved this time of year: the new clothing, the summer stories and, yes, even the learning. As a newly-minted adult and semi-functioning member of society, however, I have come to realize one thing: Going back to school sucks.
Perhaps I am alone in this thought, but even when I take into account my bills and work responsibilities, I still overwhelmingly prefer being a grown woman, as opposed to a female student.
I don't find the responsibilities exceedingly difficult. After all, I turned my thesis in on time; I can certainly turn in my rent check on time, too.
Moreover, with those duties come perks that make college seem like child's play. Here are three reasons why the real world is way better than college:
When the work day ends, so does the work.
...Usually, at least.
When the clock strikes 6 pm (or so), the computers shut off, the keys come out and you're headed home. Maybe you have to answer a few emails here and there or you are working on a big project, but for the most part, you are free and clear until 9 am the next morning.
The same is not true with college. Your day may not have included 9 straight hours of work, but the stress and tasks were never-ending. Essays, tests, advisor meetings, homework, midterms, all-nighters... The daunting list goes on and on.
If you're one of the few individuals who takes work home with you in the real world, you also have a significantly higher chance of being someone who loves your career. I am one who is so fortunate. I personally don't mind sitting at home with my cup of tea, dog in my lap, practicing a new song with my roommate or editing an article in the evening. It's what I love to do.
Putting time and energy into your passion far outweighs the significance and value of doing homework for a class that may or may not be pertinent to your future career.
You can take care of yourself.
I don't mean in the indignant, teenager, "I'm not a kid anymore, I can take care of myself" kind of way. I'm talking about the "I abused my body in college and now we are fighting so I have to find a way to keep the peace" kind of way.
It doesn't matter if you drank seven nights a week or completely abstained from alcohol while at school. It doesn't matter if you were a math major or a music major. It doesn't even matter if you gained or lost the Freshman 15. Your body is probably mad at you for something and the two of you are likely not on good terms by the time graduation rolls around.
You lived your life on late-night pizza, unlimited buffets of processed, bulk order foods and binge drinking for four years. You watched too much Netflix (though that probably has not changed) and pulled so many sleepless nights that coffee as black as your soul probably courses through your veins.
The real world forces you to make better decisions, to get 8 hours of sleep a night in your not-twin-sized bed. It forces you to cook healthy meals because no one can afford to eat out so much. You can even create a regular schedule that includes exercise.
Being an adult allows you to make amends with yourself for the damage done.
You have real freedom.
Think back to 18-year-old you, trotting off to college, duffle bag in tow, thinking, "Wow. I have so much freedom. I can do whatever I want."
To a degree, that was true. You were finally free from the watchful eye of high school teachers and parents alike, able to hop from frat house to frat house on any given Thursday night. You wanted to skip that 8 am calculus class? Well, you did it! You had the power.
...Except, you didn't.
Some universities have attendance policies. Sororities have standards committees that may have called you out. You probably had little, if any, money to your name, and it is likely that your parents paid for at least some of your tuition, phone bill, meal plan and textbooks. So, you were still obligated to them to some degree.
There is a shift when you graduate: more emphasis on your responsibility to get a place of your own and make your own money.
Do you want to visit your friend on the West Coast? Do it! It's in your budget. Want to quit your job and move to Costa Rica? Guess what? You can! Want to take that uncertain leap of faith in a career that you believe is calling your name? Go for it.
Being a real adult with a salary, a 401(k) and your own place to call home, complete with a mattress that you purchased, is empowering. It's when your life truly becomes your own, when you actually get to make choices about where you live and with whom you associate and in which direction you head.
It's when you become both whom you were meant to be and whom you envisioned yourself to be. It's so much more than the days of heading back to school ever offered.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It