Yep, I have a confession to make.

Yesterday I was given the go-ahead by my daughter to post something on social media. She has been accepted and has signed on the dotted line that she will go to Washington State University in the fall of next year. My little girl will be moving out and into the dorms on August 11th. I am beyond excited about her journey and her future.

The way I grew up, and the way she did is entirely different. The words “college” or “higher education” were not uttered during any part of my childhood. The only thing I knew was once you finished your senior year of high school, you got the hell out. Get a job, whatever, just move out and start your life.

During my last years in high school, I remember feeling a little empowered because all the people I knew had to take college prep courses; senior English, language and more math classes. Not me! Nope, in my brain, I was the “lucky one!” I took Government, cheerleading and probably the select choir. I had all the credits I needed to graduate and only had three classes each day. My poor friends had full schedules and had homework!

Once you finished your senior year of high school, you got the hell out.

I don’t have a clue about the numbers, but I would assume around 80% of everyone I knew in high school went on to college or some other form of higher education. Not me, I got to move out, get an apartment and a job. Before I knew it, I was off to California, living and working in the sunshine state. My former classmates were still in school as I was long on my way…

… or so I thought.

Yes, as I got older and wiser, I realized having a degree can be a very beneficial thing to have! Many of the positions I would look at in my wide variety of employment over the years wouldn’t even talk to me if I didn’t have that piece of paper. But hey, I’ve worked hard, and I know so much already; give me a try! Yeah, it doesn’t work that way.

When I was going through my divorce in the early 90’s, the stars aligned, my job disappeared (I went to part-time) and I signed up for Kent State University in Ohio. I took a full load and loved every minute of the “going to college” experience. After my freshman year and carrying a solid 4.0, I had an offer I couldn’t refuse from my company to move to Washington. I was so torn but I knew I had to go; even though my life as a student was just getting started.

I did take a few classes at the community college after my move, but then my radio career launched, and it didn’t seem possible or necessary to continue.

Do I regret not going to college? At this time in my life, absolutely not. However, for a considerable percentage of my working life, I sincerely regretted not having a degree. Many other doors would have opened up if I had that little piece of paper. Do I think it’s something others should do if they don’t know what they want to do after high school? If they don’t know what to do, absolutely I think they should at least start at a community college. When you get behind those classroom doors, sometimes it sparks something within you that might ignite that desire you didn’t see before. The thing is, college is not the only answer. There are many other directions you can go after high school.

With college being the one thing “in your face” while you are in high school, many occupations are disappearing from our country. Skilled trade jobs are declining because everyone thinks they will find “that thing to do” in college. (Angie’s List article here.) I know a few people first hand who graduated from college and still didn’t have a clue.

At least start at a community college.

What I am thrilled about is that my daughter grew up surrounded by educated people, many who were educators. In this family, it is a given that the next step is college. This was the only language spoken here.

In high school, a simple elective she took her sophomore year lit the fire in her belly showing her what she wants to do with her future. How many adults can say this happened to them in high school? Not very many.

Because we change so much as we grow and expand, I’ve told her time and time again to be ready to hold on and enjoy the wild ride. She may “think” she knows exactly what she wants to do with her future – I know that it will be just be the tip of the iceberg from what she will end up doing.

I tell her to be wide open to options and allow new opportunity to unfold in front of her day in and day out. Always, always, always keep your eyes open for doors that will open. With your eyes closed, some unbelievable opportunities will slip by; watch, wait, look!