Wednesday, 12 October 2011

"Higher" Education

I'm not myself lately. It's not an accident, but it's definitely not much fun.

The reason I'm not myself lately is because of school. School + my full-time job = no time to be myself. This means no time to go skating. No time to read anything extra-curricular. No time to have fun. No time to really relax. No time to make presents for the people I love. No time to write, good GOD no chance in hell of that. All because of school.

Here's a secret: I hate school. There, I said it. I. HATE. SCHOOL. Don't misunderstand me: I love learning, I love reading, I LOVE writing, I love education, and I love keeping my brain nimble, but I really, really hate school these days.

I ran into an old friend last night who laughed when I admitted this. "You're almost done your BA, then," he laughed. I told him I didn't believe in the education system anymore. He repeated himself and I had to laugh because he's right in a way. I am so, so sick of school. I am so, so sick of the stupid writing assignments and the idiots who say the STUPIDEST things and having to write things that are the academic equivalent to beating the dead horse.

I don't even really believe that university educates most people. I know I've learned a lot, but most people seem to have simply acquired more information they can freely regurgitate. It's like their human computers that just got more RAM instead of updating their processor. What's the point of that? The point of 'higher' education is supposed to be about learning how to learn. So you can learn indefinitely. Isn't it?

Maybe I've got it all wrong. Maybe I'm applying my normative understanding of education to reality. Pardon my mistake?

Back to me though... school makes me miserable. School makes it impossible for me to be myself, my REAL self, the self that a few of you know all too well (and haven't seen in over a year since I decided to finish university). I don't regret the decision to hunker down and get my degree, but I do miss myself. I miss the freedom to WRITE, REALLLY WRITE. None of this jot-down-a-few-random-ideas-between-classes-and-work shit, either. REALLY WRITE. I miss that more than I can articulate.

Thing is, I would never feel entirely comfortable letting myself just write until I finished this stupid, blasted degree so I decided to just get it over with. I'm glad I got back when I did, and I'm glad I'll be done all this in less than a year, but I am feeling it very acutely. I miss my creative brain, and the ability to travel, and not having to work multiple jobs so I can afford tuition ON TOP OF all my expenses. I miss being able to turn off my phone and just write for three days straight. I miss being able to read what I like. I miss being free.

This is worth it, right?

I can't help wondering if it is. The number of people I know with degrees (even multiple degrees, and masters degrees) who can't find a job in their field is staggering. Good thing I'm not looking for a job in my field... Seriously though, I'm not. I'm still worried. A friend of mine told me last week that her biggest fear about unemployment is not having health insurance. She's American, and I'm not as screwed if I get sick because Canadian health care is way more subsidized, but it got me thinking about the fact that my health insurance is through school and my job (which I want to quit as soon as humanly possible). The job I think I'd like to have instead is not very well paid. It's not a "career" job. It's not salaried. It's also not (necessarily) full time. And the health plan only kicks in after 6 months.

So do I risk it or do I have a 6-month overlap of the job I have (which is 37.5 hours a week) and the job I'd like to have (which only guarantees 15 hours a week for part-time) for six months? While taking 12 upper-level polisci and history credits next term.

I don't even know what to do.

I just know that I have to do something so that I can just be done with this degree and never have to pay tuition ever again. Now that I've got a bit of my frustration out of my system, maybe I'll be able to focus on those papers about ethnic conflict I need to read and respond to...


Susan said...

Oh, sweetie! I'm sending you a long-distance hug, 'cause that's the only thing I know to do. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just think of the party when you are finally finished with school!

Jess said...

I spent way too long in 'higher' education. 2 undergrad degrees, 5 different universities and a masters degree later, I'm not working in any of my fields [Yeah, I said fields. I'm an indecisive nerd.], and I'm not sure that I really learnt anything.

I look back on it now and can't believe I wasted that much time learning stuff I didn't really care about even at the time.

When the realisation that I work for the current UK government hits hard and becomes too depressing for words, I have a weak moment and consider applying for a PhD.

Then I wake up in a cold sweat and can't think of anything worse!

Lauren said...

I worked retail in high school and while I enjoyed the paycheck and enjoyed the people I worked with, I always said, "I know I don't want to do this for the rest of my life, so that's why I'm going to go to college and get an education." Here I am, two degrees later, stuck in retail where I barely make enough to make the monthly payments on my loans (let alone pay for my own apartment or anything else).

My whole life I was told that if I worked hard and got an education, people would be knocking down my door to hire me. Here I am, with not one, but two degrees, and I can't even get a job that pays even close to a living wage. I'm stuck living at home and I'm a slave to my student loan debt. How can it be argued that education is "worth it"? So far, it hasn't paid off for me at all.