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School Does Not Equal Education

Every semester I’ve ordered my textbooks weeks before the semester starts. Here I am, a second semester senior, and I thought “Time to enter my rebellious phase,” and I still haven’t ordered textbooks. I checked all my syllabi to see what textbooks I really need, and I got caught up on one class. I need seven textbooks for roughly fifteen weeks. No WAY am I spending $46.75 on ONE book JUST to use it for like THREE days. What kind of education is that? How can we possibly spend enough time on each book to make me feel like that $46.75 benefitted my education? This is starting to turn into a book rant (been there, done that), but Mark Twain expressed the point I’m trying to make much more eloquently than I could: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” 

I don’t want to limit my knowledge of the world to what’s inside a couple hundred textbooks. As a second semester senior, I’ve pretty much hit the end of the education road. Sure, there’s always grad school and beyond, but for now, I’m done. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop learning. While my career plans are rapidly falling apart – plans A, B, C, and L have all failed – I’m learning that college isn’t all about the grades. All these resumes and cover letters don’t talk about the research papers, response papers, and projects I’ve worked on the last four years. They talk about organization, time management, and attention to detail that I mastered in college.  

You think I learned how to manage my time well just because I’ve taken a few classes? I have jobs, internships, student organizations, and a sleep schedule to keep track of here, people. Sure, throw in a research paper here and there, and I’ll get it all done. Somehow. Will analyzing the significance of time in Waiting for Godot for ten pages help me in an interview? Probably not. Although it did help me to think critically, communicate in written form, and respect a deadline. That will help in the “real world.” College is the first time I’ve been on my own. I’m becoming disciplined, independent, and productive without any guidance. I think school work contributes to a very small portion of that.

This August, I won’t be planning for another school year to start. In four months, I won’t be looking at what textbooks to get that I probably won’t read, which means I could probably learn just as much without them. School is only the beginning of an education. I suppose in other words, I learned how to learn. A works cited page at the end of a research paper didn’t necessarily mean the end of the paper. The final product was only a draft. At the end of the day, I would argue that assignments don’t matter as much as experience. Don’t get discouraged by all the textbooks, you’ll learn more when your nose isn’t buried in the pages.         


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