by Summer Horenstein
Sometimes a degree is only viewed as a stepping-stone to a lucrative career, but maybe that’s part of the problem with the gender and education gap. If a college education is only viewed as a prereq to that nice salary position, those who don’t see themselves in the breadwinner role or the white-collar job, may just see those tuition payments as unnecessary.
I grew up in California with my parents, three sisters and one brother. When I was 18 I moved to Utah to attend Brigham Young University, where I graduated with my Bachelor Degree in Psychology. I have been happily married to my college sweetheart for 8 years now and we have three adorable children.
For me, there was really never any doubt in my mind that I would attend college and graduate. My parents made it their prerogative to instill in my siblings and myself the importance of education. My father worked hard to provide for our family, and everything I ever needed I had. He found ways to spark my imagination and motivate me to learn. My mother made the sacrifice to quit working outside of the home when I was just a baby. Instead, she used that time to do so many things that helped my siblings and I to be academically successful. My parents taught me good principles and never let me feel my dreams were limited by my gender, or race, or circumstance.
Due to my parent’s emphasis on academic achievement, I came to look at college as the natural progression from high school. Graduating high school was a must, and then after high school graduation, the next step was always assumed that we’d start college without missing a beat. There wasn’t any pressure on what I was going to do my education. I went through so many dream jobs: marine biologist, construction worker, psychologist, musician, physicist. But I learned that an education could help me in any of those avenues.
By high school, Brigham Young University, in Utah, had become my dream school. Thankfully I was accepted, and because of my parents faith in me I didn’t feel held back as to what I could study. I wasn’t limited by anything other than the extent of my own willingness to work hard. I considered a wide variety of majors and minors. I eventually stuck with psychology because of my desire to understand and help people.
At the end of my sophomore year of college, I decided to attend a summer term, during which I met my husband. We got married halfway through my junior year, and being married was actually a boost to my academic focus. I’ve since heard that possibly some friends and family were worried that since I got married I wouldn’t finish school; but not finishing school had never even crossed my mind as an option.
I’m sure there were those who were even more worried when my husband and I decided to have children right away; we were blessed with our first baby girl a month before our first anniversary. Having a baby right before finals did make me nervous so I only took one class that semester; however, I went back full-time afterwards and I do not regret it at all. It was a great adventure having our little munchkin with us, as my husband and I both worked hard to earn our Bachelor degrees.
Then we became pregnant with our second child…and I still wasn’t done with school. The semester I spent as a mother of a 1 yr old, pregnant with our 2nd, and taking 18 credits was my most challenging and yet rewarding semester ever. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology just weeks after our second baby girl was born. I have since been enjoying all my time as a wife and mother.
I never really thought about putting my education on hold, nor did I feel like marriage or motherhood were really deterrents to getting my education. Now, though yes I sometimes fumble around the question of “what do you do?”, I’ve come to realize my choice to be a stay at home mom is one of many great “career” options, one that can have a very positive impact in furthering the efforts of helping women. After all, one of the biggest helps to me during my youth was having my mother there to help me; now I have two school-age daughters who can benefit the same way.
I am so happy to be home helping them learn to love school, to love learning, to believe there is a whole world of things they can do with their ever growing knowledge. Their desires of what they want to be when they grow up change all the time – sometimes it’s a doctor, a teacher, a firefighter, or often a mother. I always assure them that they can be a mom and have another job as well, but I also find it pretty sweet when sometimes they say “just a mom”.
I sincerely hope they will get to be everything they want to be when they grow up, but whatever the future has in store I know that an education will make the road smoother. I’m grateful to my parents who encouraged me to get an education, my husband who supported me through it, and to my children who remind me every day that I need every ounce of wisdom I can get.
What you do with your knowledge matters, but the value of education isn’t measured by the paycheck it affords. A good education is worth it even if every thing you do with it you do for free.