Experience is an education worth more than any degree. We read books. We make flash cards. We ace our tests. We’re college kids. We go through our two, four, ten years of college and no one ever explains why we’re actually there. Yes, of course it’s to get a “job-worthy degree,” but what if you didn’t need one of those to make it? Would you actually be going to college?
I wouldn’t go to learn things. I mean, I love learning things, but I can do that on my own. In my four years between high school and CCBC, I read hundreds of books. College gave me something much more valuable than facts; it gave me experience. There’s something special about a collegiate environment. It’s a microcosm, a bubble of thought, a pile of intellectual compost. If you finish your education and you have no experiences where you say “What was I thinking?!” you’re doing it wrong. College is about diving headfirst into a bed full of green Jell-o, rolling around in it, and hugging the next person you see. Oh, haven’t done that yet, have you? Get on it, college student. Take care of business.
The canvas analogy is often used, isn’t it? We all start out as a plain, white canvas. Our experiences stain. They provide contrast, colors, and life. By the end of our years, long or short as they are, there’s a painting of a life. There’s a masterpiece of experience, the depth of which is known only by your closest friends. If you do it right, you’ll die feeling fulfilled.
That’s what college is. It’s a chance to bring you more colors. It’s a chance to bring you a depth of character that you don’t have. Maybe you don’t like Jell-o. Maybe you’re a pudding kind of person. Maybe you find food fights offensive, and you’d prefer to sit in a coffee shop and discuss the mythology behind Hercules instead. Whatever experience leaves you with a feeling of awe, good or bad—that’s what you want. You want to be awed. You want to be appalled, elated, and every other emotion that I lack the vocabulary to describe.
Don’t get me wrong. Studying is great. Do that first! Once your grades are good, it’s time to take the next step. It’s time to paint your collegiate experience, which I can only hope will be rife with “oops” and “Woah!” and “What just happened?!”
Just remember, nobody respects the degree. They respect you.