I really misunderstood what that saying meant for a long time. Now it crowds in on me repeatedly explaining itself in ever increasing clarity as the years go by.
Going away to college was the longest period spent away from home at the time, but many weekend and holiday visits kept me connected to what life was like in my parent’s house. Even after getting a job and visiting less frequently, I was welcomed with open arms and there was a hint of sadness when time came to leave. It was after I established myself as a successful educator that I began to understand what “going home” really meant.
Family and friends from my childhood knew practically everything about me. They saw me struggle through growing pains, make stupid mistakes and go off on wild tangents over my formative years. No matter how much education or career success I achieved, those people who grew up with me continued to see that goofy, geeky kid they used to know. So when I began to see patterns that led to success in our education system and developed a system of activities to maximize educational success, I thought that my family and friends would begin marching into colleges, universities and trade schools in droves. That is when it became crystal clear what the saying, “you can’t go home” means.
I could see the doubt on the faces of anyone I knew prior to becoming an educational consultant. It clearly said, “he talks a good game but I knew him when…” All the literature I had read and the TV shows and movies depicting this same reaction suddenly made sense. Even Jesus wasn’t taken seriously when he returned to Nazareth to spread the good news. They tried to throw him off a cliff. None of my family and friends have threatened me with bodily harm for suggestions about college planning but most take what I have to say with a grain of salt.
Somehow I thought that after being separated from the classroom for a while, the emotion of watching academic opportunities slip past so many capable students would diminish. It hasn’t. All I can do is celebrate with the families that recognize the need for planning and preparation. A great number of families realize that they are in trouble in the eleventh hour and are able to salvage some of the benefits of getting assistance but far too many look back with regret. Leaving college without a degree or realizing that you hate your major course of study or staring at a loan balance that is more than a brand new car would cost before you get your first job are all scenarios that can be avoided. It doesn’t matter if you contact me for help with college planning – but you need to contact somebody.