I think a lot – perhaps too much – about why I am here in University. I do not pretend to be a cynic, I try my best to appreciate the little things in life and truly live in the moment. But, if I am being completely honest with myself, I know that there are so many parts of school that are entirely sub-optimal for me, the individual.
Classes suck. 1.5 lectures? Who can sit for that long in complete silence looking at one person write on the board. You would never call a meeting in the workplace for that long! And then there are the somewhat arbitrary exams..blah blah blah.
Everyone has complaints about school. There are trilogies written (and more to be published) about the inefficiencies of the American education system. We all know there are problems…me as acutely aware as most anyone…yet why am I still here?
First and foremost, I say it luckily and as humbly as possible, I do not pay at all for school (due to scholarships). So it is actually very “cheap” for me to go to school. That, though, does not include the potentially massive opportunity cost of spending my time here, investing in education, versus in other places.
I think a lot about that…what else could and should I be doing?
Would I learn more traveling the world? Working on a startup? Working at Google? Writing more?
These are questions I circle back to every so often – tools to make sure I know the opportunity cost is high and creeping down my neck.
So why be here at all? I was talking to someone – a mentor of sorts – the other day and I think I came to an interesting conclusion…
The obvious answer is that school is fun. I think school is fun, and I really like having fun, so that is one compelling reason for me to stay at school. It is why I prioritize making memories and doing new things with friends. And I think that opportunity is rare so I am really trying to make the most of that.
Another interesting answer is the “learning mindset,” and this is what my friend and I really got into. Basically, he said something to the magnitude of “when you have a learning mindset, life moves slower. When you are always learning, the days feel longer, challenging, and interesting. When you shift away from learning, the days go by faster and everything conforms to a routine.”
Learning is the antidote to time slipping. Learning new things forms mental anchors in your mind, that make life feel slower. You do more when you are trying to learn. And college is really the start (or end for most people) of your learning mindset.
I hope to continue my attitude about learning past the education system…but I do find that this “system” wears you down. It makes you think that learning is about 1.5 hour lectures and homework assignments and hard exams.
Is that really learning?
Also published on Medium.