“Dating” College – Time to Break Up?

In this second entry, I want to continue with the theme of reflecting on my education by examining the conflicting influences I feel both to stay at college for another semester…. and to get as far away as possible as soon as possible. 

First, why stay?  In a word, academics.  I enjoy learning, and I’m coming to realize that I thrive in a more structured learning envrionment (I will broach this topic in another entry).  What’s more, there are some really fascinating classes that will be offered next semester, one of which promises to be an extremely unique experience.  There will be an advanced macroeconomics seminar taugh by my academic advisor and friend, Steve Greenlaw.  I denied myself the opportunity to learn in such a setting under him last semester in the belief that I would enjoy another class better, but I regret that choice now. 

Also next semester the anthropology department will be offering its economic anthropology course, a class that I have been hoping they would offer every semester for two years. 

Saving the best for last, my thesis adviser and developmental economist Shawn Humphrey is offering a hands-on policy development and implementation class in conjunction with a local development NGO… all under the guise of a seminar.  This would be a highly unique experience and I am sorely disappointed that I will be missing this class, most of all. 

To restate then, the only thing that is pushing me to stay here is my desire to learn just a little bit more in an environment of my own choosing.  Next semester would promise a very fascinating and, possibly, eye-opening experience.

So why leave? 

Because I’m 26.

Because my girlfriend and I really want to start out lives together.

Because just about everything about this place besides my professors bothers me, and even they drive me nuts from time to time. 

This last point deserves some expansion.  I think that I can split up my grievances into three categories: frustration with the administration, frustration with the student culture, and frustration with the strictures on my education due to an unwillingness or inability to teach certain topics.

With respect to the administration of my college, I find it to be altogether a lumbering and stupid giant of red tape and beauracracy. This is not to slander any one person; rather, the administration lacks a visionary at its vanguard, especially after our former president’s run-in with the law last semester.  I could register a multitude of complaints about the problems this creates, but they are all the typical enormous-glob-of-an-organization grievances.  In general, however, I think the poor administration leads to a disaffected student body, a demoralized teaching staff, and a generally poorer education and overall experience here.

I am also fairly unhappy with the student culture.  I find students to generally be one-dimensional both in their academics and their personal lives, and it does not help that the typical student comes from a fairly narrow cross-section of life experience (white, upper middle-class, usually from northern virginia and or the north-central eastern seaboard).  I want to be careful how judgmental I am, because I am older and and I have had more experience in the “real world.”  Nonetheless, I get the sense that this student body is lacking more than its typical counterpart on other campuses.

My final, and quite tertiary, complaint is that there are limits on how far my education can proceed here. Part of this is self-imposed because of time constraints of my own device.  The other part, however, is a frustration with the ways in which my education in economics has been limited, I feel, by the unwillingness or inability of my economics professors to put a little mathematics into their courses.  I am not the only person to complain about this – there are two other seniors currently doing/planning theses that are equally frustrated with the department in this respect.  We are all three of us potential graduate students in economics, and we are concerned that we are unduly prepared for the mathematical challenges of that environment, despite taking several courses in math independently. These are skills that are going largely unused in the context of our actual specialty, and we find this to be frustrating.  Nonetheless, this is a highly particularistic complaint; the quality of education that the professors do offer is the only thing keeping me here, as discussed above. 

All this makes me wonder if going to college is a little like dating someone.  In some cases, the infatuation can last a long time, several months or even a couple years, before the little things about the person really start to bother you and you have to ask yourself: “Is it worth ending the relationship just because of annoying habit X?”  If so, then better to end it before you start to fight and argue. 

Well, literally, I am starting to fight and argue with almost all aspects of this school.  Conclusion: It’s time to move on. 


2 Responses to ““Dating” College – Time to Break Up?”

  1. “Has it hit you yet?” « Philosonomics Says:

    […] See, I wanted to finish college, but I didn’t want to finish attending classes; I’m even participating for no credit in the advanced macroeconomics seminar that Steve is teaching.  (You can find my blog for that class, including a great discussion between myself and another philosophy/economics major on the idea of neoclassical economics, here.)  I was just sick of the bureaucracy, and a few other little things, as I discussed in a previous post.  […]

  2. sandrar Says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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