The Scholarly Years

You know how your train of thought is the fastest mode of transportation there is, with stops throughout time, space, geography and chronology all packed into a rollercoaster 5-second trip? Except then, when you want to chronicle your journey, your reader is left wondering what the heck is wrong with you? Well, let’s just say I had one of those. Involving stops at lists of goals and realisations and memories and flashbacks to university and lightbulb moments which result in blog posts. Ahem. For whatever reason the search index inside my brain landed on this here topic, today I’m writing about something I’m surprised hasn’t come up before: the past!

<Is nudged by the Interwebs>

The past… in terms of my education.Β  I love finding out what other bloggers do for a living, and I’m sure many of you know what I do for a living (in which case please send the answer in a stamped addressed envelope to… let’s just say I am still title-less in my new position, but continually gratefully employed :)) – but I have no idea about how any of you got there. So allow me to start the ball rolling.

I’ve always loved learning. I’ve always known I had a passion for the arts, literature and history – though I was raised on science fiction (and remain a lifelong devotee), I was absolute rubbish at actual science, and you could throw maths in there as well. I scraped by with a 70-something percent in chemistry, physics and calculus, but my mind and my heart were on fire when it came to the other side of the coin. I thrived on big art projects (including one seven foot tall sculpture made of wire, plaster, and lots of blue paint), historical accounts of battles and legends over a thousand years old, memorising Shakespeare and genuinely laughing at the jokes in Chaucer. Anything to do with numbers or formulas may as well have been Greek (sorry Ted), but give me a page of Middle English and I’ll be able to recite it back verbatim ten years later, the words forever ingrained in memory. But none of this mattered when it came to Going to University – at eighteen, I had no idea what course of study to pursue, or what job I wanted to end up with – so I threw myself into everything I loved in the hopes of some sort of epiphany.Β  My post-secondary education included two years of Psychology, Medieval History, Medieval Heroes and Villains, Medieval Literature (do we sense a theme?), Literature from 1500 to 1900, the History of Art, Theatre, and, of course, Astronomy. Possibly one of the geekiest combinations of study ever? But I LOVED EVERY MINUTE. None of it was going to get me a job, mind you, but it satiated a thirst for knowledge of the minds of the past, the creativity behind the stage, the symbolism of literature, the stories of centuries gone by, and… the closest I’ll ever get to the Delta Quadrant.

Actually looking at it all written down here, the answer wasn’t to find a field of employment… it was CLEARLY to get me a time machine… but life happened, and I ended up diploma-less and stuck in my own corner of the galaxy.Β  I never graduated university, and it pains me to this day to say it, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get a heck of a lot of life experience in return. Amazing? At times. Hell? Also, at times. Invaluable? You better believe it. I’ve filled those years with as much learning as I could do, on my own, reading textbooks and tutorials and finding a job in which I found I had a bit of a flair for graphics for a few years. I always kicked myself because I never had the formal education to prove I could do it, but it led me to designing projects which seemed to naturally evolve into including other areas… writing… photography… a short stint in modelling… even voiceover work; things I never would’ve touched had I not been on this path. Great opportunities that arose which would otherwise have passed me by. I’m still fascinated by everything I threw myself into in school; a copy of Psychology Today falls into my letterbox each month, starships sit atop bookshelves, and framed prints of medieval manuscripts and Modigliani prints grace my walls.

I may not have the certificate. But my two year spell in post-secondary education has furthered my passion for learning – and everything that came after it I consider a path I was meant to be on. Now it’s your turn… how were your educational years spent? Did they have anything to do with where you are now? And did you vote for me today? (Speaking of which, you have been AMAZING so far!!) The button’s nice and shiny… πŸ™‚

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51 comments

  1. I think it is awesome that you loved every ounce of your earning even if you knew it would not get you a job in a certain field. I just graduated from college with a degree in Journalism and Sociology. I knew I wanted to pursue journalism but sociology was something I tacked on because I am absolutely fascinated by the study, by the knowledge, the research, etc. And its funny because a lot of what I am aiming to do in the future fits more readily under the sociology category than it does the journalism one.

    Best,

    Hannah Katy

  2. i moved out with m when i was still in high school, so by the time i graduated i was flat broke, stubborn, and too busy being a dillhole to make smart decisions.

    i was really good in school (as with you- arts, languages, etc), and i excelled in the subjects i loved, but i never enjoyed it. i attended high school in a really stuck-up, rich suburbia… i didn’t have the expensive cars, the designer clothes, etc… so i didn’t really fit in. i kept to myself and did the work as best i could so i could just get the hell out.

    i’m sure if i really put my mind to it, and found something i’d like to take in order to persue a career, i’d be really good at it- i just couldn’t bare to even THINK of attending university at this point. i’ve had good jobs and really good experience so i’m fortunate enough that i don’t necessarily need the diploma if i want to persue my career in business.

    i wish i had your motivation!

    1. I will respond to this comment in the best way I know how: by quoting Star Trek.

      Janeway: Fire at will.

      Tuvok: I have the will, but not the means, Captain. Targeting control is down.

      I still wish I could be in university, studying and writing papers and learning, but like you I moved out way too early (also for a boy) and I’ve never been financially able to even consider going back to uni 😦 Still these days experience seems to be counting for a lot more than it used to, so hopefully we’ll be alright πŸ™‚

  3. I didn’t finish school in the traditional four years and it bothered me a lot. I ended up finishing a degree in communications two summers ago. Right now I am slowly piecing together a photography business, so that is all kinds of scary and exciting at the same time. My degree somewhat informs it, but it’s certainly not the most direct path. πŸ™‚

    1. But it’s the meandering paths that are also full of interesting experiences πŸ™‚ I’m SO excited for you to have your own photography business!! πŸ™‚

  4. I always find myself wishing I could find a job having to do with my love of philosophy and ethics. I ADORED taking those classes, to the point where I never, ever skipped a class (something I was very prone to doing in pretty much every college classes I have ever taken).

    While I’m getting a degree in marketing and sales (seems like a safe bet, right) my true love will always be with philosophy, speech and English. Maybe one day…

    1. Maybe one day – like with me, maybe one day I will be able to get paid for something I’m really passionate about – English and literature, or the ins and outs of the human mind… but for now, I’m okay. All we can do for now is make sure we nurture our passions in non-job related ways and hope for the best πŸ™‚

  5. I’ve voted ALMOST every day, but you are clearly in the lead every time I do. You must have a very devoted following, or the other entrants just don’t try as hard (they ARE all bloggers, though, aren’t they? Odd).

    On topic, my educational history probably deserves an entire blog entry in itself. What should have been the last two years of High School were so chaotic that I ended up not graduating, got my GED (a diploma-equivalent) a bit later and went to a Tech School to study computers, networks, and programming. I got a worthless 2-year degree (worthless because, due to the sheer number of tech school grads in my metro area, the job market was already saturated with people just like me) and worked tech support. Eventually I went back for a 4-year degree (condensed into 25 months of night-class-hell) in Computer Science. When I finally moved out of that metro area and into where I live now, I got a significant (read: 25%) pay increase, which led me to where I work today… still somewhat in the Technology field, but my particular position deals more with Client Relationship Management. So, I can look back on it all and say it was worthwhile… and yet, I often think of going back to school to study pretty much what YOU did purely for my enjoyment of those subjects (and not to pursue a career/degree). Just have to wait for my wife to finish up her degree (which has taken 11 years, off and on, so she feels your pain).

    1. Thank you so much for voting!! Actually I think I am the only blogger, which I’m hoping will carry me through – the girl in 2nd place started a blog about halfway into the competition but as far as I know, none of the others have blogs. Which is working in my favour for now… *touches wood*

      You should write a blog post about your educational journey! I can’t imagine taking night classes condensed that much – yikes!! I’ve recently sort of become okay with the fact I don’t have the formal qualifications – hence why I allowed myself to take the creative writing class this spring πŸ™‚

      11 years – your poor wife! Give her a hug from me. πŸ™‚

  6. I had such little tolerance for classes in college, I’m surprised I even made it through. My parents convinced me to major in accounting, which I pursued for my four years of college. I was completely unmotivated – I spent my time hanging out with friends instead of studying because I didn’t care.

    Looking back, I regret not sucking it up and working hard, but I contend it would’ve been easier had I been taking classes I enjoyed. The problem was, even into my second and third year, I didn’t know what it was I could study and also enjoy. I tend to be more math-oriented, but that’s about it in terms of specific career-related interests. I envy people like you (and most of my friends) who took classes they loved regardless of whether it would get them a job or not.

    And! I’ve been voting! You are doing fabulously and I’m sure Team Emily will keep up all the good work until the voting window is closed.

    1. Awww thank you!! It means SO MUCH to have you guys’ support, seriously πŸ™‚

      Accounting! I had no idea! I guess that’s something good you can always get a decent job with πŸ™‚

    1. Oh goodness I’m trying not to get my hopes up because I remember last time with the semi finals I was in the lead in the beginning and the closer the closing date came, the tighter it all became… fingers crossed!!

  7. i think it’s really interesting hearing where people came from and it just goes to show not everyone who doesn’t finish university drops out for the same reason and you prove that you can go ahead and live the life you were meant to regadrless of whether or not you have a certificate in your hand. sounds like the path you walked was the right one for you. & i voted 3x this mronig and you were still in the lead i can’t wait for you to WIN this thing!!!!

  8. You know, one thing I REALLY like about the US job market is that if you can prove that you can do something, you can get the job. It doesn’t matter if you have a formal degree to prove your knowledge.

    And honestly, I have a degree in English, Geography and Physical Education, but it doesn’t make me an expert in those fields. Yes, of course, my English degree might have helped with moving my life to an English speaking country and my degree in Geography might have given me the background for my current job as a geologist, but honestly? None (or very little) of what I am doing in my job today did I learn in College.

    College for me was a time to start getting to know myself and learn about life – first and foremost. The educational aspect was somewhat secondary.

    I think that everybody should be able to pursue what they set their hearts on… regardless of a degree that goes with it.

      1. I know, it’s NOT that easy… but I am trying to see it this way more often to not limit my goals by things like that. πŸ˜‰

  9. Education. Something I may have to post about as well. πŸ™‚ As of right now, school for me is to explore my options: try out classes I would not have since it wasn’t part of the “plan,” make mistakes, meet others who share, and do not share, my interests, develop relationships with teachers I respect and find interesting, join clubs, figure out who I am…

    I’m working on obtaining my bachelor’s in Education with a focus in English for Secondary Schools. Pretty dang neat, huh? πŸ˜‰ But I’ve taken journalism classes, art history classes, archeaology and philosophy. You can NEVER have “too much” education! If I could, I’d be a professional student. muwahahaha.

    I love your passion, Em. You’re so determined and brilliant and focused. love, <3, LOVE you!

    1. Aww I love you too!! And I’m totally with you – you can never have too much education!! One of my good friends has been in school forever and is now on his Masters and STILL plans on staying in school after that – that’s the life for me! Now if only school weren’t so bloody expensive…

  10. You have done very well dear and I enjoy reading about your life lessons and your passions as well. I think it’s great that you love science so much but you are so into arts and literature too!

    Also I must say I am enjoying your new colors. Very tranquil and serene.

  11. your site is prettyyyyy….and you’re still winning! and i’m still voting. not going to lie – the reminders help πŸ™‚
    i went to school for forever – undergrad in psych – then learned i couldn’t get a good job with that degree so went to grad school to get a masters in SW…then moved to switzerland where my degree is useless…awesome! i’m a house cat for now…still job searching πŸ™‚

    1. House cat is okay πŸ™‚ And I think it’s great that you took psych – even if you don’t get a job related to it, it’s so interesting and can help just understanding PEOPLE in general – something which will ALWAYS be a good education!!

  12. I’ve also always loved learning. I loved the arts and history, but was/am extremely passionate about the sciences, particularly biology. I never finished college either, but I’m going back to school this fall now that I’m almost 30 and couldn’t be more excited πŸ™‚

    I’ve been voting for you every day, love!

  13. I LOVE this post, Emily! I think I may blog about it myself, because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my career path. It may take me more than one post, though, as it’s a little lengthy. πŸ™‚

    I went to college right out of high school, and I graduated with my degree in Journalism (and a minor in Business). After graduation, I realized that there is so much you can do with a communications degree, so many different avenues to explore that I’d never thought of before. I’ve had two full-time jobs after college… both gave me great experiences, even though I didn’t particularly enjoy the first one. I’m currently not working, because throwing my husband’s military career into the mix adds unique challenges. For his career, we’ll be moving every 2-4 years, so it’ll be hard for me, but I’m more than willing to do it. I won’t be getting a job while we’re here at our first duty station because we’ll be moving again in early 2011. I didn’t want to start something, only to leave it in such a short time. For the time being, I’m trying to explore my creative side (I’m teaching myself to crochet, for example!) and attempting to find some freelance work!

    1. Sounds like a good plan! I can definitely see what you mean – not being able to stay in one place would make it really difficult, and I admire you so much for being willing to uproot potentially every few years. Exploring your creative side/freelancing sounds pretty great πŸ™‚

  14. Even if you don’t have a piece of paper declaring you’ve got your “learnin’s” doesn’t mean anything. While you were there, you were able to follow your interests and passions and learn what you wanted to learn, not what some scripted program said you had to learn.

    I started out in Chemistry, then Biology, as I thought I’d go to medical school. When I decided I wasn’t doing that, I followed my interests – American/British Lit and German Language/Lit/Culture. There’s not much one can do with a B.A. in those fields. By the end of those four years, I knew I wanted to teach, so I planned on going to graduate school for Elementary Education, which I did.

    What’s been most useful in my real career from university? Lit for Adolescents, Bio/Chem/Physics labs, a cross-curricular honors course in the philosophy and history behind modern science, and of course, Educational Psychology!

    1. What an interesting mix! I think Educational Psychology would be fascinating – any form of psych is really interesting to me. I almost took History of Modern Science too but I was too tempted by Astronomy for the science credit πŸ™‚

  15. Right now, I’m pursuing a degree in Journalism & Media Studies, although I have NO IDEA what I want to do when I graduate. I don’t like the journalism aspect, unless it replies to freelance & magazines. What I would love to do is fiction writing. For right now, I’m focusing on finishing up school and just finding A JOB. I can look for my dream job later, lol, but with the economy the way it is, I just want to have a job that doesn’t involve wiping the noses of babies and changing diapers. πŸ˜‰ (Well, at least until their my own kids!)

    1. Haha!! I would LOVE to have taken Journalism and Media Studies – and your stories of your education are always so fascinating. Working for a magazine (full time – more than once every two months :)) would be incredible I think.

  16. I am currently taking up another 4-year course to complete the 8-yr requirement for a title, and everything including the knowledge, and prestige(?) (in our country) that come with it. I know it’s taking like forever, but this is what I’ve wanted since I started my schooling. So, it’s kinda love-hate relationship with my schooling..

    All the best for you Emily πŸ™‚

  17. I voted again & you have 48%. You are rocking this, Emily! So excited for you! And Sweets, too, of course.

    I went to the University of North Dakota and got a degree in Math. I started out thinking I would major in Clinical Lab Science, but I wans’t loving chemistry and I found myself tutoring people in Algebra – partially because they needed help, but also because I missed math oh so much. The whole ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’ made me realized that I should major in math. So I dove into it from there on out.

    Then after being out of college for a few years, I started an MBA program. I always knew that I wanted to get my MBA and I was really excited to get into a good local school.

    Sometimes I look back and wish I had gotten a different degree that is a little bit more applicable, but I really don’t regret it. People see math major on my resume and they are usually pretty surprised since there aren’t alot of girl math majors. So I usually earn some respect.

    And sometimes I get sick when I look at my student loan balance, but I am so proud of the fact that I got a masters degree before turning 30. πŸ™‚

    Fun post! Was so interesting to learn more about you! I wish I coudl go back and take more of the liberal arts type of classes because I also love those kind of classes!

    1. You’re right, you don’t often hear of girls with math majors so I imagine that would be quite nice when people see it on your resume πŸ™‚ And you totally should take some arts classes one day, even if it’s just for a hobby to learn something new without worrying about credits or certificates – I’m planning on taking another evening class in autumn I think – it’s that or WoW lol πŸ™‚

  18. Your posts are always interesting. And I think you’re doing well.

    As for me, I finished a 4-year course (B.S. Airline Business Administration). I must say I did well but it wasn’t the course I wanted to take. Actually, I had no idea what I wanted back then. So I just took what my relatives suggested. I’m not saying I regret it but it totally doesn’t have anything to do with where I am now. Considering I finished an airline course (with lots of Math classes, I must say – okay, that part is what I hated the most about college πŸ˜‰ ) I should be working in an airline company. Or maybe somewhere that’s business related since I am a marketing major. But no. But I’m planning to put up a business. Well I hope I could get to it soon since I’ve been bitching about my work lately. πŸ˜‰

    P.S. You know I vote for you every day.

    1. I’ve never even heard of Airline Business Administration! That sounds really interesting – as does starting up your own business, what field were you thinking of?

      And thank you so much for voting every day πŸ™‚

      1. We have an aeronautical school here where people who are interested in the airline industry (those who want to be a pilot, flight attendant, etc.) study. My course was more like a business administration (with lots of Math classes, ugh!) but with some airline-related classes too. πŸ™‚

        I already have a part-time business. I design fashion accessories and I’m planning to make it full-time. Still not related to my course. See? Haha.

        And you’re welcome.

  19. What an interesting post Emily!
    I didn’t care much for school except for music and the vocational course I took in Fashion Design in high school.
    I decided to skip University because the program here didn’t offer any hands-on training. Instead, I spent those years learning to become excellent at what I do.
    I now have a career that is totally related, (running the Wardrobe Department at a Theatre) and while my love of learning, which I only discovered as an adult makes me envious of those who have the opportunity to go to school, I also realize that I couldn’t do what I do if I had.
    I find it very interesting though when I look back on my life, that everything I have ever learned about from photography to singing in some way has prepared me for what I intend will be my next career in my own business… so things have a way of working out for the absolute best!
    Good luck with the contest! I sure do hope you win!

    1. “…everything I have ever learned about… has prepared me for what I intend will be my next career in my own business… so things have a way of working out for the best”

      Perfectly said. I know it might sound a bit clichΓ© but I really do believe in EVERY experience, no matter how irrelevant it may seem at the time, there is a learning opportunity and if we choose to take advantage of those, then we can really prepare ourselves for the future WE want πŸ™‚

  20. My education means everything to me. I’m a strange mix of practical and dreamer, so the degrees themselves mean a lot, but the longer I’m here, the more it’s about the person I’m becoming. Education has really changed the person that I am and I don’t know where I’d be without it, even if none of my degrees lead obviously to, you know, making a living!

    1. Replace “strange” with “wonderful” πŸ™‚ I adore education and learning and I am all for taking as much as possible – it’s the whole possible thing I’ve struggled with. But I don’t know what I’d be without education either πŸ™‚ High five for a fellow academic!

  21. Sorry that I haven’t had much time to comment lately but this post pretty much is the subject of my life right now: school, homework and getting my degree. πŸ™‚

    Sorry that this will be just another short, random comment. However, I finally signed up to vote for you!!! You are at 49%. Woohoo!

  22. This is good stuff:) Learning is about action, not paper, and not traditional classroom study or degrees. The most successful people in the world are usually equipped to take on the world with their mind, not a piece of paper that says they’re smart.

    I took a long road to where I am, and think I may explore it on my blog, but in short, I spent 22 years thinking I’d play professional soccer. Soccer got me a degree from Stanford, in Human-Computer Interface design, and after that I went into Law, then Wealth Management. Then I dropped it all and co-founded Foodtree, a tech startup:)

  23. I wrote a post where I summed that up: My Epoch.

    I was going into programming, but then I fell into the web. Later, I went crazy over typography, and now I’m on the road to teaching.

    My job at the college is perfect for me, because I spend all day every day reading and learning new things.

  24. Well, I just graduated and got my diploma last week, so right now I am not really anywhere else yet. But as I majored in humanities, I will likely not end up somewhere directly related to my majors. But I have learn so much in the past eight (yes, eight) years. I have lived in two different countries aside from Germany and I have learned a lot not just about literature but about life. I have grown and matured, and my studies have taught me skills that I do believe will be very valuable in my future work.
    Germany is still very old-fashioned in that way, that you will have a hard time finding a decent job unless you have gotten a degree or done an apprenticeship (three years of professional training after which you have a specific profession).

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