University Not For Everyone, Part 2/8: I love learning, but not university

I was good at high school, but I never liked it. You see, I love learning but I hate being told what to learn. Get me interested in something—anything—and I’m onboard. But, my high school opted for the alternative to box everyone into four beige walls and have them copy exactly what is written on a chalkboard. I did it, though, and I did it well because I had the beautiful paradise of university to anticipate. Nice lecture rooms. Professors who are enthusiastic about what they teach. The freedom to choose what I learn. Munnels! I was in love.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the relationship wasn’t for me. I initially did an arts degree in psychology and learned pretty early on that I wanted to study all the social psychology I could find. Four years of classes and I only had the opportunity to do two. I don’t mean to dig at the faculty. Psychology is a pretty broad discipline and it’s better to have all your bases covered than to play baseball with an infield full of first basemen.

But it wasn’t for me. Once again I found myself being told what to learn and not being able to learn what I wanted. I didn’t have the time to learn about social psychology on my own, with a full course load and a job. I fell out of love. I stopped caring and I let my grades slip. But like many relationships, I stuck with it. I figured university and I could work it out, but we had to take a break first.

After convocation, I lived in bliss for a full semester. Zero courses. I could enjoy my time off work and I could learn on my own accord again. So I binged on audiobooks and eventually found one on human evolution. I realized I liked social psychology because it helped me understand people, but this was a game changer. I thought to myself, maybe that old fling with school wasn’t so bad. MUN’s archaeology program offered a large number of relevant courses, and since it fell under the arts degree umbrella, I could just do the major and add it to my B.A. So it was a short breakup and I came back with a passion.

Things were better this time. The faculty was great and I enjoyed the classes. A reduced course load meant that I could learn on my own time as well. I read books, journal articles, watched documentaries, listened to podcasts and found the odd YouTube video. But then I realized that I cared more about the learning I’d do on my own, rather than in class. I grew despondent. I remember actually skipping class to watch a documentary because the topic that day wasn’t as interesting.

I finished that major begrudgingly. Then I broke up with university for good. I realized that I didn’t actually like academia. I liked learning and I liked getting people excited about what I had learnt. So now, almost a year removed from university, I’ve designed a multimedia project to make human evolution research accessible and engaging. I’ve a design company excited about the project and we’re about to seek funding.

Ultimately, university has been an inefficient way of learning for me. It’s necessary to be able to critically think but when you reach the point where you can challenge your professors, I think you’re good. The Internet, on the other hand, is revolutionizing education. Never before has so much information been so available. Take advantage of it. If a B.A. is just two letters to you, don’t get one.