Uncollege: Self-directed learning after highschool

To paraphrase, my choice to not finish college has been met with the following:

“You don’t have a life! You’re not in college!”

“What have you accomplished, if not college?”

“What have you done? You’re not even in college…”

College isn’t for everyone. I went for a semester, my memory began deteriorating1, and I missed an important exam the last day because I was experiencing what I’d learn two days later was ovarian cyst pain, but not before I was rushed to the emergency room because it was so bad (and then worried by my doctor that it was going to burst because they couldn’t believe it hadn’t yet). My communications class (Speech I) was shit, anyway, its curriculum clearly created for the utmost neurotypical of people. I never stood a chance.

I also hadn’t a full grasp on what I wanted out of college. If I’d been dealt a better hand, or knees for that matter, I’d have majored in dance. Now, I’d just as rather take classes at a local dance studio and learn everything from the beginning. If I did happen to choose college, it’d be for myself this time; I’d go for writing, I suppose, but then stirs up the titular issue: I would be subjected to classes having nothing to do with what I intend to learn, but what belongs to the decided curriculum.

Aside: This is a big part of me: I am a huge supporter of unschooling. In addition to adopting kids, I’d rather unschool than expose my children to the toxicity that is public schooling. I don’t agree with it, but I digress.

I’m not in college, and it baffles me how people who throw the comments above at me like flaming arrows think I’m insulted. I’m not. I’m not ashamed to not have finished college, or to be in college, and you can’t shame me into feeling that way. I wasn’t raised that way, despite having a relative who pushed college like no tomorrow.

Not attending college/obtaining a degree ≠ no longer learning.

I’m learning everyday. I read and experience. I pull myself out of my comfort zone. My special interests are my motivators—coding, SEO, photography (scenic), free-from foods and cooking with them, branding, symbolism, writing. They encourage me to keep learning. I’ve been a self-directed learner my whole life (#thanksautism).

I spent much of my life in school, and yet I didn’t learn many things I should have learned, like how to balance my bank account, WTF the difference between a checking and savings account is, WTF credit is, and why no one seems to be asking why we accept “because that’s just how it is” as an answer. I never learned why some people feel the need to have everyone like them. I was taught it didn’t matter who I knew, but the reality is that, yes, it does matter who I know—or rather, who knows me. I was too smart for standard classes, but too neglected by my guardians to be in advanced placement classes, so school was often boring. Some teachers ran out of things for me to do. When a teacher graded me wrong and I explained how my writing was not wrong—I’m too good to screw up mixing past and present, thank you—she didn’t understand the same way she failed to understand how “nowadays” and “whatnot” were, indeed, real words.

The world is my blackboard. Some teachers I had took the world and brought it into the classroom each day, and I’ll forever love them for it, but not every teacher is or will be like this.

I was suicidal for too long, and now that I’m walking among the living not as someone undead, but as someone who is very much alive, I want to experience more. I don’t have it all figured out—I don’t think anyone does. Now that I no longer relate myself to a decaying corpse, I prefer to spend more time being myself, thinking freely and not paying an institution to waste my time waiting on professors to show up to class or regulate how I use my phone2. Call it disrespectful, but if we’re all adults here, then why are we still babying college kids? Alas, I digress again.

It’s 2017—there are alternative learning methods available. I can take classes online to learn to do whatever I want, or go places offering classes. If you have so much of an issue with my not being in college that you feel the need to point it out to prove yourself better, perhaps what you most take issue with is yourself. Why does my lack of a college education bother you?

It’s not for everyone.

This post is not associated with UnCollege.org—only the unschooling approach itself.

  1. Goodbye, entire semester. I got to where I couldn’t even find the sum of 2+2.
  2. Not sorry: I have to keep my phone on, because 1) what if a gunman came in? or 2) what if there was a family emergency?

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Comments on this post

Edel’s gravatar

There are so many ways to learn outside of a institution, college is almost becoming irrelevant. I know someone who dropped out of high school and is a self taught programmer who is making a six figure salary. You really don’t need college to be successful in life. It does give you an advantage but it’s still not needed. Even I’m a mostly self taught programmer.

Honestly, it’s great that you’re taking the comments from others in stride. Too often we do things just because it’s expected of us and it’s the well worn path. Some people just can’t think outside of the box. As long as you’re happy and you’re able to live an acceptable standard of living (that you define yourself), it totally doesn’t matter what others think.

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