Friday, August 19, 2011

University: Adversity, Diversity, and a Little Perversity

The second ugliest hat I've worn.
This coming Spring, my degree – a Bachelor of Arts in, of all the practical and well-considered fields of study, Theater – will turn 15 years old.*

It's true that, in whatever drawer I have stashed it, the actual piece of paper has lain dust-covered and undisturbed the majority of that time. It is also true that I can no longer tell you jack squat about Richard Burbage, have no clue when to use a Leko versus a Fresnel, and am no longer able/permitted to strip an actor down to his underpants in the theater wings in under 10 seconds.**

That doesn't mean that I don't use much of what I learned in college every single day.

The professional skills I gained in college include, but are not limited to:

  • Critical thinking and logic
  • Project planning/project management
  • Research and data analysis
  • Effective communication, including writing

More importantly, the nearly 4*** years I spent in college empowered me with skills to be, not just a better employee, but a better person. After the relative homogeneity of high school, I learned to work alongside and even appreciate people whose life experiences were vastly different from mine in nearly every way. I learned how to successfully rise to new challenges and how to gracefully grow from my defeats. I was forced to challenge my own assumptions and was (eventually) rewarded with a greater trust in my powers of reasoning.  

The Kathy & Mo Show: Parallel Lives
The lessons I learned in the classes I attended were important and valuable. They taught me that there were “more things in heaven and earth” than I'd previously dreamt of in my ignorance. The lessons I learned from being in those classes – handling heavy course loads, challenging professors, irritating classmates, impossible and conflicting demands and deadlines – have been equally important in my life.

Many of us like to reminisce about the fun parts of our college experiences and it's true that the parties and play times have their role in the overall experience. More than that, what I chiefly remember about my college experience is my progression from a shy, insecure, self-loathing total spaz to outgoing, outspoken, self-assured, self-loving total spaz. 

At times, the experience of higher education can seem like a hurricane of adversity, diversity and perversity. When it's passed, though, you'll be amazed at all you gained by going to University.

Today's exercise: Be kind to college students... and avoid Telegraph Avenue. It's back to school time!

Next: Either a list of my favorite literary mash-ups or a very special guest blogger.

*Thus shattering my delusion of being still in my “early 30s.” Damn you, Mathematics!

**At one point in my college career it occurred to me that I had seen every single person I knew in their skivvies. Just one of the many (dis)advantages of doing your work-study in the Costume Shop...

***Yes, I graduated slightly ahead of schedule. Yes, I am bragging. (Only magna cum laude, though. Damn you again, Mathematics!)

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