I still haven't answered this one, at least in the medium to long term. And this is a particularly good day to explore it; it's been exactly ten years since I took the SAT I in my junior year of high school, as I applied to college. After the Post-Navy Roadtrip, I have no idea what I'm going to do with my life, or where I'm going to do it. The choice is between two main options: become a full-time student again and finish an undergraduate degree, or take a full-time job and possibly pursue a degree part-time.
I definitely think there is some merit in going back to school. In this workforce climate, having that bachelor's degree gives one a sizable leg up. I don't harbor any thoughts of ever going back to Cornell. As much as I love the place, my performance over the last two semesters there most likely precludes any return to the East Hill. This doesn't even consider the fact that the credentials that got me admitted to CU's Class of 2003 - 1380 on the SAT I (out of 1600), among others - probably wouldn't cut it in today's admissions pool. (Supporting statistic: roughly one in five applicants were offered admission to Cornell's Class of 2012. Nine years ago, it was one in three.) If I do go back to college, I'd lean towards a larger public school, perhaps one in a BCS conference; I imagine the social experience would be far different than in the Ivy League. I imagine it would give me more material to write about here. The state of the economy also plays a role; if it remains sluggish, that could push me in the direction of a return to school. (I'm fortunate that I won't suffer the fate of one of our electrician's mates, who failed to plan properly, or even really plan at all. He now desperately wants to re-enlist, after swearing up and down that he was getting out.) And psychologically, it might very well bring some measure of closure to the turbulence that enveloped my twenty-first and twenty-second years.
Most of the arguments against college and in favor of work revolve around money. The biggest of those is the matter of debt. There's a little voice in the back of my head imploring me not to delve into another financial hole. This takes on even more significance when I recall that being broke and jobless was my reason for joining the Seagoing Military Force half a decade ago. The amount by which I'd go into the red is lessened by the combined forces of the Montgomery GI Bill and whatever savings are left over after the PNR, but incurring any new debt raises a giant red flag in my head. That leftover sum of money brings me to another sticking point. I could use it to finance a new car, or as an investment seed if I go to work full-time next year. Two other minor issues are my family plans and the experience I've accrued in the Navy. Going to college again might extend into my early thirties, and it also subjects me to possibly moving after a relatively short time at whatever school I choose to attend. While not the driving factor, my continually shifting residence has not aided in curing me of the "single/virgin" status with which I'm currently saddled. As for my experience, the skills I've acquired during my enlistment - particularly those incident to operating a nuclear reactor - are in high demand, and could lead to some fat scratch on the outside. Allowing them to wane while I work toward the almighty sheepskin could deprive me of a chance to seriously cash in.
There are compelling cases for both sides of this dilemma. Although I'm still a year away from separating, I do need to start getting my head around this in the near future. Regardless of which option I choose, preparations need to be made - not the least of which is taking the SAT I again, and ripping it to shreds.