The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

8 June 2005

Edumacation blues

Disclosure: I started this last night with the following statement:

Not that either John Kerry or George W. Bush should care, particularly, but my grades weren't any better than theirs were.

I couldn't think of an adequate follow-up, so I shoved it onto the back burner to await an opportunity.

Such as, well, this non-screedy Bleat from Lileks:

One of the things I've let go in the last few years is the belief that college grades are an accurate predictor of intelligence. (I'm sure it would horrify some of my more . . . vociferous emailers to learn I got great grades in my three-semester European Diplomatic History course.) Put it this way: if you get good grades in college, you're probably not unsmart. (I also excelled in English.) I did well in Art History, my minor; I had teachers and courses that rewarded passionate essays full of doubleplus bellyfeel. I suq'd the hindmost teat in the sciences. I like science — I was a total chemistry set geek as a child — but my essential impatience swamped that inclination, and I really do lack the temperament for mastering that amount of details. Geometry, algebra — they irritate me. I was not an indifferent college student, but college did not seem to be pointing me where I wanted to be. Until I found the newspaper, and that was the end of that.

I attended the U of M for seven years. And I don't have a degree. I have no shame about that, and admit it freely; am I dumber than someone who was in and out in four? I spent one glorious year taking three classes that lasted all year long — Art history, Russian lit, and European history. They led to nothing in the professional sense, and did combine like Transformer Credits to turn into a sheepskin, but I wouldn't trade that year for anything. When I finally left college I took a job as a convenience store clerk, which is just what my English degree would have prepared me for anyway. But. I had clips. Damn, I had clips. I had written about 100 pieces, and I had an audience and a name, however lower-case and minor it might have been. But when you want to be a writer, that matters more than a Masters in Fiction.

So Kerry’s poor scores mean nothing to me. College is an interesting fiction; it’s become the modern monastery that confers Holiness merely by virtue of tenancy in its ivy-slathered walls for a certain period of time.

Nothing so far has pointed me to where I want to be, but then I'm not entirely sure where that is. I do know this much, though: the possession of Actual Verified Education in my, um, profession of the moment is far more likely to be a liability than an asset.

Posted at 7:12 AM to Almost Yogurt


Had I focused my studies in one direction, I would be sporting a degree today myself. But I have nothing to show for my schooling other than satisfaction. I only took courses I was interested in at the time, and sad to say, English never was one of them. Obviously. To bad for readers of my blog.

Posted by: MikeH at 2:26 PM on 8 June 2005

The last time I thought about going back to school, the most salient justification I could come up with was "It will improve my chances with the babes." I figured if that was the best I could do for a rationalization, I should leave well enough alone.

Posted by: CGHill at 6:58 PM on 8 June 2005

I'm probably never going to finish my degree. It's just as well -- it was in Humanities.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 10:27 PM on 9 June 2005