Monday, October 20, 2008

A Master's Degree From the School of Hard Knocks

You never realize how expensive a 42-cent stamp is until you buy 100 of them.

I was in that situation today because I needed to mail a handful of envelopes to old college professors. I needed to do that because I'm applying to grad schools. I'm doing that because I'd like to earn a master's degree in political science, and this one I made out of construction paper, Elmer's Glue and elbow macaroni is just not earning me the respect I deserve.

The nine schools:
  1. Colorado
  2. Kansas
  3. Missouri
  4. Iowa
  5. Illinois
  6. Michigan
  7. George Washington
  8. Florida
  9. Bad Ass Mamma Jamma U
I've realized for awhile how much I miss school. Not really the parties, the football games or the late nights with friends. There's a little of that, to be sure, but I've never been much of a social creature. No, as sappy as it sounds, I enjoy the atmosphere of a college campus. A lot of that is the Gothic and faux-classical architecture, for which I'm quite a sucker. John Dickerson would probably mock me for this (you know, if he had any idea who the hell I was), but I enjoy buildings fronted by Greek columns. (I might want to see about a degree in psychology while I'm at it) The architecture and the plant life leads to serenity; it's hard to be distressed when you're surrounded by red brick and evergreen trees.

And if you thought that was sappy, you'll love this: I enjoyed waking up every day with the knowledge that my only responsibility was to learn. That was the case in high school, of course, but for a lot of reasons it's more profound at college. College gives a student the chance to indulge his or her intellectual quirks. My favorite class at UF was probably "The Literature of German Knighthood," and really, there's no practical reason to take that course if you're not majoring in...well, the only acceptable major in this scenario is "The Literature of German Knighthood." If you're majoring in journalism, as I was, you're just taking that course for the fun of it. It's a peculiar brand of fun, to be sure, and it's easier to indulge those whims when your parents are paying for them (thanks mom and dad!), but it's nonetheless a pleasant situation.

There's certainly a measure of desperation in this process. I picked a horrible time to graduate with a journalism degree, and I picked the worst possible time to suffer a crippling bout of honesty. That godforsaken honesty eventually resulted in unemployment at a time when newspapers were cutting jobs by the truckload.

Obviously graduate school is a different beast than the undergraduate experience, but it's still education. It's a chance to learn, to grow, to contribute something to the academic marketplace of ideas. (No, I wasn't able to type that phrase with a straight face) And I'm looking forward to that opportunity.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Good luck to you Andrew. I often wonder what I'll do 4-5 years from now when I am not actively part of a 'learning institution'. Of course, as a doctor you never stop learning (even more so as a teacher in academic medicine, a field in which I'll be involved), but it's different when, as you say, your only responsibility is to learn. I wish you only good things in your pursuits. We'll have to catch up if you're ever back in Texas again.

PS: What thinks you of a Texas-Florida National Championship matchup?