"MOM, I don't want to go back to school."
When A Child Decides to Take A Break from College


As a fourth grader, this kid brought home the Overall Best of Show Elkhart Science Fair title, beating out science fair participants all the way through Grade 12!!

When he returned from his second completed year of college , he was concerned about how his English teacher, now college professor mother would take the news that he would like to take a break from learning and pursue employment.  Like many students now, he became very concerned about the mounting debt (though his scholarship held his to a minimum). But most importantly, he had renewed his creative energy as a Electronic Dance Music (EDM) DJ while attending college…and, you guessed it…decided to pursue a career in music. The timing of his choice was also challenging because Tyler graduated high school this year and was overjoyed at the prospect of going to IU.  Graduation parties left Grant feeling “less than” and well intentioned comments from family and friends left him wondering if he had let them down.

I could see that Grant anticipated a firm discussion on the needed benefits of higher education and how he was making a “huge mistake”. He feared I would be disappointed in his decision and he began to adopt an attitude that he had possibly failed me in some way.  I mean, I have taken as many courses as one can – to doctorate level – I know the power of education!  However, I also know the power of feeling passionate about a career choice, being true to natural aptitudes, interests, and abilities, and adopting the decision to become a lifelong learner. 

I told Grant, “Life learners take starts and stops all along the journey.
It is not about how you start but how you finish.” I also advised that it is important for him to be flexible enough to remake himself as life may dictate.  The recession of 2008 is sufficient evidentiary support.

If an incomplete college record is a sign of failure, then place my name on the list, several times. 
My first term at Purdue ended with a middle of the night rescue from my father, mid-winter, to save me from completing the worst educational period in my entire life.  Having slept through three of the four required exams to pass Psych101, I didn’t make it. Roommate problems, homesickness, feeling displaced, and (unbeknownst to me) depression all combined to make my first few months a disaster. 

Unfortunately, though I had planned to finish with a flair, illness and marital woes eventually took their toll on my pursuit of my Ed.D. and the dissertation timed out before I could finish the dissertation. 
So, I am now eternally ABD, as are many, many wonderful colleagues.

Education is a journey…BUT it is a sub-path on the great journey of life. 
It must be placed in perspective in order to avoid tremendous debt and wrong career placement. I advised Grant that his decision is actually a very mature and courageous one because he has decided to pursue himself.
I told him that he has a great mind and it is natural for family and friends to only want what is best for him.
However, he has to put on his headphones and continue listening to the music that makes his spirit dance.  This life is a journey and we all have to take these steps on our own.  We can get input from others, but we are responsible for making the decisions that allow us to rest peacefully each night. And God can use us for His Purpose in whatever path we choose, if we allow.

I gave him a starting time to get established and told him that rent payments would begin in September. 
He wanted to get a job and pursue his EDM career and thought that, within a matter of weeks, this would easily come to fruition.  However, he became disgruntled at the difficulty he had in trying to obtain work at the beginning of the summer.  I told him not to be too concerned because we would have the opportunity to visit his uncle out of state and that he could try again when he got back.  I reminded him again, that God will move in His time.  While on vacation, he had the opportunity to connect with a number of family members he had never met who had already worked in the music industry.  His cousin Tracy Filer was an LA DJ for years! He got a chance to jam with his Uncle Kyle who was known as the local Jimi Hendrix when he was in high school.  When we returned from vacation, he secured a serving position within 24 hours at a local Hibachi Tap and Grill.  His first night on the job, he learned that he would not only be serving, but may have the opportunity to—you guessed it – DJ at times. Since he will be turning 21 soon, he will also have a chance to learn bartending.  Most importantly, his young (and highly wise) boss told him to make this job a learning stop on his rise up – to continue to keep pushing toward more.

When God moves, He moves.

Parents, loved ones, if this happens to you, remember, there are many classrooms; they don’t all have to fall under a structured brick and mortar roof.
Learning is most effective when it occurs in an environment of support and encouragement.  It is most important to feel true to ourselves in what we do.  I can tell that teaching and journalism are in my spirit but it took decades to learn this. And God can manifest His glory and use us in whatever path we take…but we must allow Him. 

It will be very important to encourage and support your child but it is important to remember that each and every journey is unique and belongs solely to the owner. 
Education is very important but so is treating people with compassion, having a sense of integrity, giving back to the community, and being most productive by loving what we do.


No son, I could never see you as a failure so please do not begin to trouble your mind with such things.

Both of you continue to make me exceedingly proud.

Join the conversation on Facebook: Education Coffeehouse: Encourage, Engage and Educate

Professor Marsha


Marsha Kay Bass, ABD

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"It is easier to raise strong children than repair broken men. ~Frederick Douglass

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Printed with permission by Grant Bass.



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