The most knowledgable people I know are often not trapped in a classroom. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself since I graduated with my bachelors degree in May.
Most of my peers who are still going through school tell me that there is no reason I should want to be in graduate school right now. Depending on the program, it can be grueling and expensive beyond what most 20 somethings can afford even with loans.
All of this I know. But I miss learning. I miss being forced to figure out a made up problem which a professor can (most of the time) tell me the answer and explain how to solve it by the end of the hour long class. Weirdly enough, I miss being tested on the knowledge that I was supposed to glean from the class. I miss being held to a standard of learning.
However, as I’m starting to make headway down my career path, I’m starting to realize that what I actually miss is the ease of someone placing all of the information in front of me, relaying it to me, and then confirming my understanding of it once I’ve parroted it back to them. This is not actually “learning” or knowledge collecting. It’s an expensive alternative story to casually looking up facts on google and remembering the gist of them enough to recite them to friends.
Not to say that graduate programs are a complete waste of time or that they’re just an excuse for students to delay the start of the 9 to 5 life. In fact, I aim to attend a graduate program within the next few years. But even graduate programs only last a year or two; they’re temporary learning environments. I want to build into my life habits of constant learning, of perpetual discovery. After all, why would I only want to only explore a minuscule piece of everything in this world has to offer?
For now, I’m “educating” myself by reading books and essays that are considered “dense” or “complex”. This could be on a syntactical level or on a content level. I’ve also been reading “closely”. By the time I’ve finished going through a text for the first time, I want to have a good understanding of it (I’ll look up any words or references I’m not completely sure I understand). Then I’ll read the text again. And again. After each reading, I come away with a better understanding of not only what the text is communicating but also how it operates, and how it communicates those “messages.”
This shift of learning has helped me to not feel as though post-graduate life is just this endless monotony of working 9 to 5, paying bills, and cooking. Unfortunately the age-old aphorism “Life is what you make it” applies quite well here. Post-gradom is as boring or as intellectually enriching as you’d like it to be. It a “free” learning environment.
Here is my required reading list in this first course of self-education: