A Frost poem would be cliché, wouldn’t it?
December 10, 2008
This is a selfish post. It exists more for myself than anybody else. However, if you bother reading it your opinion would be appreciated.
Currently, I’m debating whether or not I ought to go back to college. I’m 21 and I haven’t gathered enough credits to account for two semesters; I’ve tried my hand at four. My entire family and most of my friends seem to know what the correct decision is, as if it were obvious. Maybe it is. I should, by all accounts, continue my “education proper”. The problem is, as much as I love to learn, I have always hated school.
I’d much rather follow my own thoughts wherever they lead me then swallow something down that a professor deems important. All my favorite teachers have been the ones who favored discussions over lectures, and allowed us to write long meandering papers about whatever inspired or angered us. I liked school best when it looked nothing like school.
I can understand the need for a well balanced education. If it was left up to me I’d probably never get far beyond basic math. But to be honest, basic math is all I need (for now), and if I should ever need more I think I’d be entirely capable of discovering it on my own. What I do know about more complicated math I haven’t learned in class, which I tended to skip or spend napping in the back row. No, I picked up what I know while wrestling with economic models and climate change predictions. What I know has come from experience, although that experience is fairly abstract.
I’m a smart fellow, if I.Q. tests and SAT scores are to be trusted (I don’t think they are. To be honest, I don’t even have a working understanding of what intelligence is supposed to be. It seems like there are different skills for different tasks and most people are excellent in at least one area. I’ve never met anyone I could honestly label stupid, though I throw the insult around as much as anybody.). At the very least I know that I concern myself with topics most people my age don’t; I’ve always been that way. So despite that propensity for intellectual exercise, I’ve gotten fairly middling grades, with a few As and some Ds and Fs thrown into the mix. As my structured schooling went on, I’ve witnessed a polarizing effect in the academic results. The classes I loved I spent huge amounts of time reading and writing for. It didn’t feel like work. It felt like life. The classes I hated I could rarely be bothered to get out of bed for, or just as likely, put down a book for. Subsequently, I failed. The disparity resulted in slow progress, slow by traditional academia’s standards, at least. I earned not even a year’s results for two years time, if you give a shit about course credits and class hours.
Do I give a shit about course credits and class hours? Should I? Am I going to be an absolute failure if I don’t get a degree?
Ah, that is what it comes down to for me. Fear. The only reason I am considering returning to school is because I’m afraid that I won’t live up to a certain standard of success. I suppose I’ll have to define that for myself before I decide whether to go back. I just wish it didn’t feel like the situation was a ticking bomb. I’m 21. How many years do I have, realistically, before I have missed the opportunity to chase down a diploma? Before I get caught in a routine I hate just to survive at a level that the middle class approves of?