Friday, June 18, 2010

On trying to figure out the point....

So here's a question that was posed the other day in my Argumentation & Logic class: What is the point of going to university?

You may think the answer is simple. I did, too. Until my professor got involved. She tends to complicate things, but I guess that's a good thing especially for the type of class it is.

Is the point to prepare yourself for a career? Most of us would say yes. Having a degree generally makes you a more viable candidate for certain positions, that's for sure. For my husband, his college education definitely prepared him for a career. He went to what my professor calls a "vocational college" meaning that pretty much every course he took would have a pretty direct impact on his future career. He is a computer science major.

I, on the other hand, am an English writing major with a Sociology minor. Clearly, neither of those are really going to help me for future careers. Maybe if I was also getting a teaching license or continuing to grad school, it would more obviously be a career-directed major. But it's not. It's a liberal arts degree. Most liberal arts degrees tend to mold the mind more than the career. I know a few philosophy majors...but really, how many paid philosophers are there in the world anymore? How many anthropologists?

And, maybe, in the grand scheme of things, there aren't all that many professional writers out there.

So what the hell am I going to school for? What is my education preparing me for, really?

In my estimation, while I'd like to be a professional writer (for Vanity Fair, if I'm allowed to be choosy), the reality is that I'm being prepared to be an effective communicator. I'm learning how to speak well and write with authority. I've seen the benefits of this at my own job a number of times already. I'm learning the best and most compelling forms of communication for any number of scenarios that I might one day find myself in. I'm better understanding how to choose my words for said situations. I'm honing my writing skills so that I can make fundamentally sound arguments for any position I take.

So no, my degree isn't vocational. Not by a long stretch. And my husband's degree is one of the furthest from liberal arts you can get.

If you have a degree, what is it in? Why did you get it? What did it prepare you for?
If you don't have a degree, what do you think the point is in getting or not getting one?

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

On taking time....

I am a mere three days into the most stressful semester of my collegiate career. I've opted to take 12 credit hours during the 8 week semester using the following logic: I'd rather torture myself for 8 weeks than for 16.

Honestly, I'm not all that concerned. I took three classes last summer so how bad could it be to add one more to the mix? In my estimation, not very. I already have people looking at my cross-eyed, wondering how I manage to keep up with myself and my life. I had a friend tell me once, many years ago over dinner, that if I stopped to think about how crazy it is what I'm doing, I'd probably kill myself. So just don't think about, keep plugging along, and finish.

That's how I've been pursuing my degree for the last few years.

I started to get incredibly stressed out today over my Argumentation & Logic class, which is probably going to be the most challenging of all my courses. I have three chapters to read and close to 15 assignments to complete, all by Sunday at midnight. I almost had a nervous breakdown, but took some deep breaths and said to myself what I've been saying for years: Just do it. It's got to get done, so get it done.

Then I got a really big reality check and smack to the brain.

I reviewed the required assignments and discovered that, in reality, I only have one chapter to read, three assignments to complete from said chapter, and two other fairly low-key assignments on top of that.

Why was this a reality check?

I learned the hard way (again) that I need to slow down and make sure I'm fully understanding what's being asked of me. So many times, I find myself doing far more than I need to. Don't get me wrong...sometimes going above and beyond is good, essential even. But when it comes to schoolwork, facts are facts. I'm only being graded on the work that's assigned so (logically) I should only do the work that's assigned.

I feel like I'm learning this lesson time and time and time again. Apparently it's something that I desperately need to have drilled into my head. My thick, Type-A skull just doesn't get it sometimes.

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