I don't know now — I just don't know,
If I'm going back again ...
— The Grateful Dead, 'Cumberland Blues', 1970

Deciding What Came Next

Summer flowed into Fall ... Fall turned to Winter ... Winter flowered to Spring.

I was finishing my first year at UNH with only decent grades, but I had gained so much in every other way: I had a new outlook on life, a sport that I loved, a wide network of people to spend time with and a deep love of living in New England. I was very happy at the prospect of another year at UNH.


That said, as I got into the Spring of my Freshman year I felt some deep uncertainty about whether I should continue. I was having a great time, as well as growing on all fronts, but I was borrowing money to do it. Even after all the learning that I had gone through, I still felt no closer to deciding on a major and bringing focus to my time at college. I had allowed myself a year to just soak in the experience and savor it, but my focused side was demanding to know what I was spending all this money for, and I had to admit to myself that I really didn't know.

Returning Students

While trying to decide what to do next I thought about the 'returning students' that I had in my classes. These were adults who had either skipped college or had left for a time. What they brought to each of those classes was something myself and my peers could not — real life experience. We could wax poetic about this or that theory, or perhaps quote some famous author to back up our view of how life worked, but these people said things like, "after nearly dying in a monsoon off the coast of Burma I looked at life differently", or "starting my own business made me realize what's really important to me".

When returning students talked about their view of life I could not help feeling that they had earned their opinions through experience, where myself and my peers had just read about things. I wanted to bring the kind of passion, experience, and real-world understanding to my educational process that these people had. I realized the only way to do that was to go and get some of that real-world experience for myself and then come back with it.

After a lot of soul searching I decided not to return to UNH in the fall of 1984 for my sophomore year.