Tired of academia, eager to begin a life without algebra, and distracted by the unrelenting Santa Barbara sunshine, I decided to take a gap year. Who knew it would turn out to be 40?
My short-lived college experience pretty much resembled that nightmare you still have. You know, the one where you walk into a large hall, are handed a blue book and then realize you forgot to study or attend class? So, in 1968, after completing one year of college, I moved on to a satisfying life of writing jobs and political campaigns, marriage, raising children.
Not having a college degree was by no means a serious issue, especially in Los Angeles where folks just want to know how many miles you ran that morning or if you have any good screenplay ideas. But upon moving to New York in 1983—where inquiring and glittering minds immediately want to know, “where did you go to school”—the diploma-less me began to feel the sting.
I usually answered “University of California” and left it at that. But it continued to gnaw at me and I began to crave closure. The unfilled hole also left a sour feeling of intellectual insecurity regardless of how many times I was reminded that Jobs, Zuckerberg, Gates, and countless artists didn’t complete their four years. Eventually, I couldn’t deny it anymore. I knew I had missed one of life’s great social experiences, not to mention always feeling under-read, under-tested, and under-challenged.
Read more. [Image: Columbia University/Wikimedia Commons]