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Friday, April 18, 2014 | Last updated: 1:12am

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The big secret: College isn't actually about classes



After four years, I have decided college isn’t really about school.

Yeah, it obviously would have been a huge waste of time to come here and not actually learn anything. I learned plenty, but it’s nothing I couldn’t have learned on my own with enough hard work. School has done some good for me, like showing I know what I’m doing within my own field. But it mostly gave me a piece of paper that everyone else says I need to prove I’m competent.

It’s not that my education has been a lie this whole time, but what I learned in the classroom isn’t going to help much in the real world. What really matters is pretty much everything else I learned. My friends and co-workers aren’t dropping pearls of infinite wisdom on a daily basis, but they did teach me the truth about college.

College is meant to teach you that it’s important not to take everything too seriously and that your happiness matters.

That’s the big secret.

Think about it for a second. In high school, adults set college up to be this big, stern place where it’s hard work all the time, right? Well, we all know that’s just not true.

College programs can’t be meant to teach you a work ethic if you can graduate without ever starting an essay until the day before it’s due or pass a test without actually knowing any of the material. And these scholastic shortcuts don’t just apply to the so-called “softer” majors — plenty of other majors pull the same tricks for some of their classes and swing straight A’s.

I mean, just imagine if you had spent hours preparing for every test and essay or if you read every word of every reading ever assigned to you. Chances are, you’d go insane from stress and end up a useless wreck. That and you’d miss the forest for the trees.

Because what good is a fancy degree if all you can remember is class? Sure, you might get a great job, and you might keep it long enough to get rich, but will all of that potential money be worth the cost leaving the UA without anything more than a piece of paper?

That’s why all of that time spent procrastinating with friends really wasn’t time wasted after all. Skipping early classes wasn’t a big deal when your job kept you up late the night before.

And it’s also why you shouldn’t feel like your degree matters any less just because it wasn’t for something designed to destroy minds. Actually, as long as you like what you do, who cares what your degree is in?

If you’re graduating, I hope you figured this out some time ago. But for those of you who will be around after the rest of us have ventured off, arm in arm, into the real world, keep this in mind: Your grades are just a letter (or number). Skip a class or homework assignment every once in a while to kick back with some friends. Go out and get a job. Find some time to figure out who you actually are and don’t worry so much about what you know.

— Jason Krell is the online arts & life editor for the Arizona Daily Wildcat. He is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and Italian. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @KrellItLikeItIs.


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