Education from Experience

by Delphine Burns


Courtesy of Delphine Burns
Courtesy of Delphine Burns

As a new semester commenced, I was ready to try new things, commit to organizations, take different classes, and push myself far out of my comfort zone once again. That’s what college is about, right? Screw it. That’s not just what college is about. That’s kind of what life is about. It’s about learning about yourself, taking risks, and becoming a better person because you did so.

I don’t regret filling my schedule up so much, because I’ll quit when I’m old and sleep when I’m dead. However, it just gets extremely stressful and arduous sometimes. Sometimes I wake up and wonder why I took on so many responsibilities. We’re all critical of our decisions and commitments sometimes. It happens.

One of my beloved ways of coping with the impending pressure is bitching to my friends, family or almost-strangers about my copious responsibilities. Advice I receive a lot is to slow down, not do so much or make sure academics are my main focus.

While academics are restricted to the classroom, education isn’t. I have an issue with the common misconception that if you miss a class or focus on something other than homework, you’re not learning or expanding your mind.

I feel that with nearly every responsibility I undertake and every life experience I have, I learn a little about either myself, somebody else or the world. Therefore, the argument that doing less and focusing solely on schoolwork just does not make sense to me. Learning experiences can happen anywhere and everywhere.

For example, when I go to A Capella rehearsal, I improve musically, learn about group dynamics, and become a stronger member of the group. When I edit for The Peel, I learn about other people’s opinions, happenings on campus and gain general knowledge I may never have in a classroom setting.

Sometimes instead of sitting around stressing out about assignments, maybe it’s more useful to be involved in something educational you enjoy. Since our institution is pro social activism, we have so many opportunities to gain knowledge outside of class. I know people who don’t take advantage of any of this because they are so busy worrying about assignments and grades. To me, learning is abstract and grades are often arbitrary.

When I take a daytrip to LA, I witness culture, diversity and become far more philosophically inclined than I ever would by doing a reading about LA culture in my dorm. I’ll never let experiences like this take a backseat in my life. I came to college obviously to become a proficient scholar, but also to enrich my life in other ways. Academics are extremely important, but so is raw education.

I like learning in unconventional ways and acquiring experience in alternative situations. When I look back in 20 years at college, I’m likely not going to remember the readings I did or the time I spent staring at a dimly-lit computer screen late at night in some study room. I’m going to remember going to LA, visiting museums, meeting people on the train, and living the way I see as conducive to my development as a student and an individual.

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