I tend to romanticize my college days. Days and nights spent immersed in study, pursuing wisdom, and discussing the intangibles late into the night. I went to school with no intention of using my degree in the traditional sense. I wanted to educated, but I wanted education for it’s own sake, as undisciplined as my own interests. In reality I spent much of college immersed in the petty dramas that immerse many students, discussing in-depth the confusing behavior of the man I loved (now my husband - still loved, and only slightly less confusing). I generally focus on the intellectual highlights when I look back, but the social life is a huge part of the true value of higher education. I met many of my dearest friends in College, I learned a lot about myself, and I began to develop my interests as an adult. All good and helpful things, and all fascilitated in some way by college life.
“Not everyone is suited to the format and demands of university, and as things stand, the debts generally incurred in the obtaining of a degree are terribly burdensome.”
Jenna is right, not everyone is suited. And I’ve seen some sad results when people are thrown into the college system without the desire or ability to do well there, but only the vague notion that they ought to be in school. But my own experience of schooling is not at all to the point of regretting at any level, my college experience. I know I would be nowhere near where I am in my writing and intellectual life -not to mention my personal life- without my time at school. I don’t even regret my time skipping from program to program, it’s a path to degree I would love to give anyone - a B.A. in Random Information Ending in Passionate Study. An ideal degree. My senior writing professor had more influence on my education than any teacher up to that point. Her advice, guidance, affirmation, and critique alone was worth the cost of the entire degree.
Neither my husband, whose degree is in Anthropology, nor I use our degrees in any professional sense. But neither would trade the education, which formed us well for life. That said, I think Christie’s experience is common, in part because, in trying to make college accessible to everyone, schools often hire professors who are unable to teach and guide their students past a stage of competence and into creativity. This is especially problematic is programs that ought to be creative, like writing.
Attempting to send all Americans to college is unfair to everyone involved. The students, both those who want to be there and those who don't, and the professors. The assumption that higher education is necessary for success, especially in the creative sphere is frustrating and unhelpful, but understandable when we have a bias against self-education. It gives us a standard, at least to measure against, but as it becomes more and more common to read books and articles written by B.A.s, M.A.s and PH.ds that read like high-school essays, the importance of a College education may dwindle.
I realize I didn't really add much to the 'discussion' aspect, so if you have nothing much to add, feel free to boil it all down and just write on what you think the benefits or detriments a College writing program would be for you as a writer right now (as a more 'formed' writer). Do you think a program now would be more beneficial or more frustrating for you? Though I'm sure it would depend on the program...My writing professor would love you!