Maturity Is Not Created by College

Here’s an interesting and well-written essay on what is like to be a young adult who became an unschooler in high school and who then decided not to go to college by Emma Zale that was published in the Daily Kos.

I was struck by this passage in particular, about the relationship between attending college and people’s perceptions of your maturity:

As I began to interact more and more with these mid-to-late-twenties/early-thirty somethings, I noticed something startling -- the majority of them were in the very same situation that I was. We were all working blue-collar (or more menial white-collar) jobs, trying to launch some kind of artistic or otherwise higher paying career. In the case of my co-workers, who were virtually all college graduates, I (the youngest among them) was their boss.

They felt like my peers, and whenever I admitted my age to them, they tended to be astonished. When I would reveal that I had not only never gone to college, I had dropped out of high school... their jaws would literally drop. “But you're so smart,” they would say. “You're so mature.”

To the latter I would often answer: “Well, I've been out of school for nearly 5 years,” and that seemed to resonate with them. But what does that say about what constitutes a person's maturity in the “real world”? Because I had been in it for as long as some of them had, I read as 25-30, when I was really just shy of my early 20s. It seemed that not only was college not always indicative of success, it wasn’t necessarily a barometer for maturity, either.