When I was young, I hated school. It was a thirteen year jail sentence. There was a brief moment in high school, I think my junior year, when we were taken to St. Mary’s College in Moraga on a field trip that I envisioned myself at college.
But it was just for a moment.
I’ve had a deep sense of realism for as long as I can remember. Me, at a fancy expensive school like that? Hardly. I had taken only the courses I needed to graduate, there was little encouragement from my family, and the money simply wasn’t there. Community college offered a bridge, but I lasted all of three weeks there. Paying rent was the priority, and my mind couldn’t connect the dots between math, science and the theatre stage, where I was headed.
Many years followed of various trade schools that never seemed to pan out, but it was a formula I latched on to. Courses targeted only to the subject I was interested in. I never had the confidence to make a go of any of these careers, but today I am quite knowledgeable in a wide slate of studies. It was in my thirties that, staying at home, I developed an entirely new set of skills in media editing, desktop publishing, and graphic arts – all self-taught. Learning at my leisure worked for me.
About four years ago, I attempted to return community college, to take courses only that I found appealing. Because I had no basic courses under my belt, I had two options; take the basic prerequisites or prove my abilities. I opted for the latter, but after several attempts and a discouraging run-around, I finally learned the truth – college simply isn’t designed anymore for the casual student. It’s degree or swim.
Hearing those words turned out to be a most wondrous thing; finding my way to the Pleasant Hill Adult Education Center. In these last few years I have found a mentor, inspiration, and the motivation to become the writer that was buried deep inside all along. It even has unearthed dreams I didn’t know I had, and now I am an instructor myself.
Adult Education is a most valuable resource. It is not only educational, it is a social hub for students of all ages who are there because they want to be. Perhaps there is something out there that they’ve harbored a desire to learn, or for some it’s simply a new chapter in their lives, but it’s the bond of togetherness that is the backbone to the studies. Many have repeated with the same instructors for years, forming friendships along the way.
And it’s in serious danger of all going away.
The state has placed AE at the bottom of its priority pole of education. Tuitions have steadily increased in the last few years forcing the decline of enrollment, which only feeds the budget slashes. It’s a vicious circle that has teeth unknowingly gnashing itself into oblivion.
If ever there was a time to support the ongoing education of adults, it is now. We need to step up to the plate and invest so that it doesn’t wither away completely. Take a look at the catalogues, find something that suits you – take the time, and spend the dime.
Myself, I’ll be hoping to head a class of writers with blank slates, ready to be scribbled on. Won’t you join me? Tuesday, July 3rd, is the closing date for sign-ups for classes beginning this week. It’ll be worth your time, I promise, and I can just about guarantee you’ll have a new friend by quarter’s end.
Adult Education isn’t just about learning, it’s about community. There is no age limit for an open mind.
Register online here: http://register.asapconnected.com/Courses.aspx?CourseGroupID=5831 or call the PHAEC Office at (925) 937-1530 - hurry, many classes may no longer be available come Fall Quarter.