One of the most difficult experiences of my college years was the enormous load of stress and pressure I felt almost all the time. Mrs. Lydia Sherman, from 'Homeliving Helper', referred to this in one of her recent posts:
"…they are told it is inferior to marry and be at home, and are instead convinced they must be shut away into college dorms that make cattle and sheep pens look roomy, and forced to study in a distracting and stressful atmosphere. The piles of assignments heaped on them make it impossible for them to love life and enjoy beauty. Such a load can only be borne a certain period of time before they finally break down, either mentally or physically."
Mrs. Sherman merits a huge 'thank-you' from me and from all young women who were made to think they are weak, whining creatures that can't 'handle pressure'. I didn't dare to complain when I often had to spend from 12 to 16 hours away from home, daily. I felt like a failure when I didn't feel the inclination, ability or desire to enter the cycle of overwhelming competitiveness, rush, ambitions and career plans my fellow students were immersed in.
What we didn't stop to ask at that time, and what I would like to ask now, is why are we supposed to handle so much pressure? What good does it do? Our study course took 3 years, while the load escalated each year, up to a point when right now, I await the results of my exams with trepidation. It would have been busy enough even if we did 4 years and not 3, and there was such an option, but we were discouraged to do that. We needed to complete our degree, fast. Enter the workforce, fast. Or start a higher degree right away. The important thing was not to allow breaks in our career! It couldn't wait! Even stopping to think about it was an incredible challenge for me, and I must tell you I'm glad I did.
"College and career can wait: marriage and homemaking cannot", says Mrs. Sherman. I agree, and would like to add: marriage and homemaking are our careers. As for college… well, if you've read some of my previous posts about my college years, you know I don't think it was all bad. I did learn valuable things, but I think it was more despite, than thanks to the teaching methods. I'm sorry, but cramming my short-term memory with facts, spitting it all out during an exam, then forgetting all about it isn't exactly what I consider effective learning. Maybe it works for some. It didn't work for me and for many others. Yes, I handled it. Yes, my grades were generally good. But what about knowledge? All the time, I had a feeling I'm stuck inside a huge industry that cares only about one thing: stuffing my head with theories, hauling me towards an exam, then allowing me to forget everything I learned. This doesn't happen when I learn at home, on my own. This is an important lesson I learned: I'm mostly autodidactic, and I learn much better without stress applied. This is not something to be ashamed of.
I remember long weeks and months, passed in a whirl, without having the opportunity to 'love life and enjoy beauty', like Mrs. Sherman said. This is what our culture proclaims these days. Do more. Faster. Now. Otherwise, you are ineffective and worthless. How foolish! How on earth is this supposed to make us happy, enhance our spiritual lives and contribute to our preparation as future – God willing! - wives and mothers?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against education, and I'm not against the very idea of going to college. What troubles me is how it is done, and the consequences it bears for young women. Like Mrs. Sherman, 'I am just saying that the system of education either needs reform, or we need to seek alternatives.'
Following a request from Mrs. Sherman, here is also the link to my first post about my years in college.