It was a long time before I realized how fortunate I was in my upbringing. I don't mean my family life, because my father was an abusive prick, but the attitudes that were instilled in by the society of the day. Growing up it was always taken for granted by those I went to school with and myself that we would be continuing on to university after we had finished high school.
Not all of us had career plans, in fact probably most of us didn't, but it was only natural to go on to university to continue our education just for the sake of continuing our education. Most people I knew were aware of what was going on in the world around them, read widely, took an interest in the arts, and wanted to learn more about what the world had to offer and university was the place to do that.
As this was still the end of the 1970s and at the beginning of the 1980s Canadian society was still set up for people like us. University tuition was ridiculously cheap compared to what people paid in the United States, and each province in the country had generous loan and grant programs available for people whose financial situation wasn't the greatest.
It didn't matter whether you wanted to take a four-year B.A. in the Humanities or in Computer Science, everyone was treated the same and all departments had budgets equal to their needs for ensuring quality education for their students. Learning for the sake of learning was considered enough of a reason for supporting continuing education.
So it came as quite a shock to me to discover how few people in the world think that way and that even worse how more and more people were being discouraged from perusing the quest of knowledge for the sake of knowledge. It's probably not a coincidence that I became aware of the first around the time I started to understand the second.
In 1995 the province in Canada where I live, Ontario, elected its first socially and fiscally conservative government. In policy, attitudes and outlook it was much closer to conservative American policies than any other Canadian government had ever been. The party elected turned out in fact to have hired many of the people who had worked with a governor of New Jersey helping implement the same types of policy.