Sunday, December 12
Back to school.
If you could go back to college, what would you study? There are a dozen ways we can go with this, so I'll set down two scenarios and let you run with it. You can answer both, either one, or make up your own criteria. Sound good? And for the sake of making it easy, in this hypothetical situation you are enrolled in the university of your dreams, with the best faculty and facilities and your disposal, and money is not a concern, nor is family life or anything else. This is more to see what you are interested in and what you might do differently (or not), than it is about pesky logistics.
And if you didn't go to college, or haven't yet, this is your chance to have fun anyway. International readers note: Americans use "college" synonymously with "university" and not as a lesser institution; we call our 2-year institutions "junior colleges" or "institutes" or various other names but "going off to college" for us could mean we were setting off for Harvard or Oxford just as well as it could mean we were going down the road to the 2-year city college. I'm going to use the word "college" because it's less cumbersome than "univeristy" by three syllables, but please take it to mean any institute of higher learning, public or private, junior college or major university, undergraduate or the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies where people like Einstein, Feynman, and Dyson have been faculty members.
Scenario one - you went to college, took something you enjoyed, but it wasn't practical and you didn't use your degree nearly to the extent you wish you could now. You want to go back to take something more practical that perhaps won't interest you as much for 2, 4, or more years, but will net you a great career (one you now desire), and give you the means to more fully live out your dreams for the rest of your life.
Scenario two - the opposite, really. You took a boring, practical course of study and it may or may not have benefitted you in the real world. Life has gone on and this little genie has popped out of my blog bottle and given you the chance to go back and study something you'd really enjoy, and who gives a damn whether it's practical or not. You could end up teaching the subject, or taking a vocation that's entirely unrelated, but at least you'll have had the chance to learn something in depth that has always interested you.
Or, do you think college is a waste? Would you jump right into the entrepreneurial world and get started making your first million, or zoom off to Nairobi to save some wildlife, or would you use the hypothetical college funds to erect a first-class study edifice of your own and be completely self-taught, immersing yourself in books and the internet interspersed with bouts of real life? It's all up to you, there are no rules.
And since it's unstructured as always, you can list as many subjects as you like... just one is fine. Or if you want a double-major with a minor and then a different subject of study in graduate school or even multiple PhDs with pickles and onions on the side, go for it. Realize that each course of study will take more years to accomplish, but you can afford it, so it's really a matter of what you would like to learn where (academia or the streets), and for how long. Maybe you want to get rich and retire to a life of leisure. Maybe you want to stay in school all your life.
I'm just starting the conversation to see where it will lead. I'll participate too, but I won't go first.
Posted by Metamatician on Sunday, December 12, 2010
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