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    Hindsight is 20/20

    February 7, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    I‘m hoping that this post will be more interactive. In fact, I hope you all answer the question because I am interested in your individual answers.

    I guess the basic question goes something like this: What would you change? To make it longer, I would ask you: Given what you know now about who you married {or didn’t marry}, what your career is {and isn’t}, how you spend your time, who your friends are–basically, given what you know about your life right now, what would you change about your past? I’m not talking deepest, darkest secrets. I’m talking more about the practical stuff.

    I suppose this question was inspired by this posting {which, by the way, is the place to be if you are at all interested in debating the merits of sending a daughter to college}.

    I will give you an example by answering my own question. I really do hope you all follow suit!

    So…given what I know about my life today, one thing that I would change about my past would be my time in graduate school*. I would completely eliminate it. I don’t even know where to start when I talk about it, but I consider it to have been mostly a waste of time and money and energy. A minor criticism would be that I hardly think it qualified for the title of “graduate school,” since the reading level in most of the classes I took was probably the 9th grade or so.

    But really that isn’t the point. The real reason that I wouldn’t go back and do it all over again is because there are other things I wish I would have spent that time doing and learning. If I would have known when I enrolled that I was just under two years from motherhood, and about five months from getting engaged {well, I suppose I suspected that one}, and if I had the attitutde then that I have about things now, I would have studied up in preparation for the life God was about to give to me, instead of studying subjects I wasn’t going to use or could study on my own for about a tenth of the cost.

    Now, I don’t want you to think that there was nothing redemptive about my time there. I met encouraging professors, was introduced to a few new thoughts, and made some friends.

    But I wish I had learned to sew, learned to garden in such a way that the poor plants actually survived, studied motherhood, and basically spent some undistracted time perfecting the womanly arts required of me when I became an at-home wife and mommy. I’ve managed to learn most of super-important mommy stuff {still don’t know how to sew, still not allowed to have house plants}, and it’s not that I’m angry about it or anything. But I just think it would have been nice to spend a couple years in preparation for my true calling.

    I short, I wish I had had an undistracted devotion in my approach to my future.

    *Note: Many years after I wrote this, I discovered that graduate school wasn’t such a mistake, after all, and that though I do wish I had been more prepared for my roles as wife and mother, I am glad that I went.

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  • Reply Brandy February 12, 2006 at 11:52 pm

    Dear Anonymous,
    What a funny name! Just kidding.

    I appreciate your kind words.

    I just wanted to use your comment as an opportunity to clarify something: the part of my education about which I have serious regrets is my time in graduate school. And I honestly wouldn’t consider much of my time there to qualify as educational at all, though there is much debate over whether this is perhaps my fault, since I am the one responsible for choosing the classes.

    However, the fact that my education, as you sweetly put it, has not been a waste (thank you for the compliment), does not preclude the fact that my time would have been much better spent.

    In retrospect, graduate school was, for me, a time of self-indulgence and vanity (you know, getting to say, “I’m in grad school” to people is a pretty powerful phrase now that almost everyone goes to regular college).

    Graduate school did not prepare me for a life of sacrifice as a wife and mother, nor did it serve to educate me in areas that would have been most beneficial to me in fulfilling my calling as a keeper of the home.

  • Reply Anonymous February 11, 2006 at 11:11 pm

    After I read your blog and read the posts, I don’t believe any of your education has been a waste. No matter what the cost was, Si is so much better than the locals you would have ended up dating or marrying.

    It is tough that you have to go to school to in order to meet good men or maybe God would have used other anvenues to find you a good husband.

  • Reply Si February 9, 2006 at 10:03 pm

    I have been asked by my wife to be a male voice in this discussion. A weed among flowers I am.

    I would echo Rahime’s regret that I didn’t take enough rigorous courses in college, as I thought they might lead me to get a “B” instead of an “A.” Heavens no! I’d challenge myself more.

    And secondly, I would have asked around more before dating my last ex-girlfriend. It would have saved me some heartache. There is wisdom in much counsel.

  • Reply Rahime February 8, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    Kris, I’d second the desire to have taken more time/energy into Torrey studies and reading. I guess in some ways I may not have met ‘Chung if I hadn’t gone to Biola, I also would’ve missed out on Torrey, which I consider to be one of the most valuable experiences in my life. I’m not even sure what I should have majored in.

    I’m still debating whether is better to do something you love learning and are stretched in, or something with practical application. I guess the biggest problem with my major is that it neither stretched me nor prepared me for anything. While I enjoyed a few of the classes from my major, I learned nothing I didn’t already know (or couldn’t easily figure out with a little common sense) in most of them.

  • Reply kristie February 8, 2006 at 7:05 pm

    To continue in the education vein, I’d say if I could do it all over again I would have put more into my Torrey studies. I would have actually read the books slowly enough to retain something! I don’t fault the program so much as my own laziness and “efficiency.” In hurrying to get everything done, I think I missed it all.

    The jury’s still out on the rest of my education, as I can’t decide if I will continue teaching or not. There are things I love about it and things that seem to be a mismatch. For a while I questioned my master’s degree, as it seemed to lower my odds of being employed as a teacher here (too expensive). However, having that degree has allowed me the opportunity to try teaching college, an opportunity I would not give up. So, maybe my dad was right when he counseled me that an education is never a waste. =)

  • Reply Brandy February 8, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    It is interesting, Rahime, that you would say this, because I was considering reporting a second regret that is quite similar to yours. (I, of course, could never regret Biola since that’s where I met Si!)

    But I do think I regret my major. I can’t say that I know what I should have chosen instead, but I can say that the course of study I did choose didn’t have a lot of practical value, and it certainly didn’t require any thoughts of depth or great importance.

  • Reply Rahime February 8, 2006 at 8:52 am

    My biggest regrets are also related to school, but a bit different. I somewhat regret choosing to go to Biola (though I did gain many Amazing friends), but mostly I regret chosing a major that did not “stretch” me or at least have some practical value. I should have done a more vigorous major. I also somewhat regret not going to grad school right away, because now I want to very much and don’t know if I ever will.

    Even if I have the opportunity though I feel like my poor decision about undergrad major has impacted me in that I can’t seem to settle on a suitable graduate course of study (finding a balance of practical/useful and interesting seems impossible so far) because I don’t want to make the same mistake (and a much more costly one at this point in life) twice.

    I guess, although I love my work, I feel like my major sort of forced me into it because I had such a difficult time finding any job. I wish I would’ve known when I started college what direction my life would take and taken more steps to prepare for that.

    I don’t regret who I married, 🙂 of course, but there were a couple of relationships I had before meeting ‘Chung…two of them I don’t regret for a moment because of the things I learned and the way they helped me grow…but two of the guys I dated I had no business being with and I would love to take that back.

    When I think about it, however, I really don’t have many regrets. Its kind of funny though that the main one is such a major life decision.

  • Reply rebecca February 7, 2006 at 11:20 pm

    As If!

    And just for that, I am leaving another comment…

    Besides the wasted classes that I took, I also wouldn’t have stressed so much about my GPA in high school (and even college) because I can’t remember the last time it was important in my current everyday life. It does come in handy when I want to brag to my husband though…

  • Reply Brandy February 7, 2006 at 10:44 pm

    To all my other readers–

    Pay no attention to that mountain woman behind the curtain, trying to lure you to an altogether different topic. Hehe…

    I still would like you all to answer the question, even if the answer is that you wouldn’t change a bit of it.

  • Reply Brandy February 7, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    Okay, Rebecca, I will not allow you to force my hand like this!! Just kidding.

    Actually, I am so lacking in thought in this area that I feel completely unable to direct a conversation on the topic at this point.

    However, I would love to direct you to Buried Treasure Books because Carmon has been keeping up the discussion, and has two postings since the one I linked to this morning.

  • Reply rebecca February 7, 2006 at 7:58 pm

    I did read that… what a way to teach children about marriage (and at church)!

    I know this isn’t the subject of your blog today, but I was really interested in the discussion since my cousin recently told our family that she doesn’t have any plans to ever go to college (I think she might be 13 or 14 now).

  • Reply Brandy February 7, 2006 at 7:46 pm

    Rebecca–not sure I want to touch the girls and college discussion with a ten foot pole. But technically, I didn’t want to touch the contraception issue, so who’s to say what the future may hold! If I fixate on a subject for too long, it’ll end up on the blog…

    By the way, did you read the comments on that article? I think my favorite is where the 11-year-olds sunday school teacher said she needed to go to college in case she ended up divorced!

  • Reply rebecca February 7, 2006 at 7:11 pm

    My answer is similar to yours… I wouldn’t have taken the teacher credential classes that I took (and am STILL paying for). Like your opinion of your time in graduate school, that was a waste of time, energy, and money. I don’t even keep in touch with anyone from those classes. I suppose I learned from those classes that I truly don’t want to be a teacher, so I guess they weren’t a total waste.

    I read the article about girls and college. Perhaps a discussion for your blog sometime in the future?

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