Most of us are professionals of some sort. I am a project manager for a major trading firm. I live in NYC with my wife. We lead busy lives. We have families to tend to…responsibilities to keep. For whatever reason, my education slipped through the cracks. Our lives can become overgrown with other obligations. Money was short. The degree programs weren’t relative. No time for classrooms. These are all valid explanations. However, they are not worthy excuses for not finishing our education.

Life is not always as straightforward as people make it out to be. We have these notions that have been fed into our brains since we were children: you grow up, go to college, get a job, find a mate, buy a house, have kids…yada yada yada. But my experience has been quite different from that one. I struggled. I procrastinated. I traveled. I goofed around. After all, if I didn’t know what I wanted to be…why should I commit to a degree?

I am now at the cusp of finishing my degree. This is my last semester in the CUNY Online Baccalaureate program. Next spring I will proudly walk the aisle and receive my diploma from Dean Mogulescu and take in the moment with my family. It will be well-deserved. However, the journey does not stop there. In many ways I feel this is only the beginning. Now that I am older (hopefully wiser) I realize that it is not about the destination. It is about the journey. Whereas before when I was but a clueless youth who had and upside-down goose’s sense of direction, I now know that it doesn’t really matter. After I graduate, I am considering a plethora of options. I could go on to grad school (because I learned that learning is fun!)…I could commit to writing more. I could start my own business.

Henry David Thoreau said : “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.”

The truth is I don’t completely know what comes next. Who really does? But I do know that I will have completed a major milestone in my life that will continue to serve me in many different areas. That simplification process that Thoreau was talking about is really just putting one step in front of the other. I have dreams. I am walking towards them. I am setting goals for myself and reaching them one by one. It is very satisfying. And, it gives me hope for the future…something that is a tad scarce in these times.

So, if you find yourself considering finishing your education… stop considering. Do it.  If you find that you are overwhelmed and in the thick of a challenging semester…push through. The unintended consequence of learning is that it makes you a better person by pushing you forward into new possibilities rather than just staying in the same place. And that sounds good to me.

Charlie Newell is in his last semester for the BA in Communications and Culture. He is presently working as a Project Manager for a firm on Wall St. He enjoys sports, outdoors, cooking, travelling and his wife.