And That Was University

Today was effectively my last day of uni. It ended at 2:15pm when my tutorial closed with the tutor uttering the above now immortalised four words.

Probably for the first time ever I have tinged my long-standing thoughts of “hurry up and end” with a little sadness. Though only a little. Enough for me to sit back and think carefully.

There are still two exams to go. And day upon day of awful, awful revision. But… what has ended is the formal bit. It’s now all down to me to finish the job. In truth, a combination of my essay and dissertation marks are likely to mean that no matter what happens in these exams the result has already been decided. Which in turn makes me somewhat relaxed about the whole thing. Well, at least I’m relaxed at the moment. I’m sure I won’t be come the exams.

It was a sad moment in some respects though. I know I’m starting a new course in a new university in September, but it will be very different to what I do here. Political science involves a lot of thought. Too much thought. And lots of analysis. These are probably two skills which I’m very good at. At least, I bloody well should be after spending so much time honing them. I will miss the weekly opportunities to expand my knowledge on a subject and think about something new to factor into my belief system and understanding of what makes the world tick.

Because university has done a lot for me in this respect. All that thinking has produced something in my brain. As a college student back in 2001-2003 I was very political, but my political thoughts were all a bit haphazard. University has allowed me to focus them somewhat, but I’m not one of these people who claims their ideology or (worse!) their party has all the answers. I just have a much better idea of what I am and what I believe in.

The next step from that, of course, is doing something with it. What use is it to me if all the outcome of it is that I am extremely good at justifying why I voted for “X” at the election? The Average Joe may not be able to do that beyond “Mr Politician Z understands the concerns of real people!” – but so what? What direct or indirect use can I get out of my continual political mind stimulation?

I think the point I’m trying to get at is that I am, generally, optimistic about people. I believe everyone has the mental capacity to do much more than they can. As each year has gone by I genuinely feel like I have sharpened my brain power often in all different areas. I know for certain that all other people can do this too.

After all this time I have learned that I love learning. In all honesty this was staring me in the face for a very long time, I just didn’t want to admit to it. I think the main reason is that formal learning is hard. I hate the accompanying exams and essays, normally because they constrain me within a framework of rational choice that, for me, limits the bits that I’m naturally interested in. But at the same time, that framework is useful for me in forcing me to focus. I can get a bit too abstract otherwise.

But I know too that I love learning because without such a framework I constantly seek out and absorb information. The internet is wonderful for me in that respect. I suspect had I been born a couple of generations ago the library would have been my window onto the world. But now the internet allows me to do that. I like knowing more and more about stuff. I’m not the only person like this. But, without wanting to sound stuck-up, not everyone is as good at absorbing information as everyone else. But that doesn’t necessarily matter. We all learn at different speeds. But we can all learn something.

And so I think this is where everything leads naturally into justifying my choice of career. I love learning. I have spent four years doing some of the most intense learning of my life. It’s made me a different person, intellectually. It’s made me want to pass on some of what I’ve learned to others.

Where does the political science degree fit into this? Well, it does in very limited direct situations. But the point is more indirect. I probably could have drawn this same conclusion by doing any degree. The idea is simply that some fairly advanced level (and yet it’s not really compared to what people who do masters and doctorates do!) prodding in my brain has made it me realise what the possibilities of the human mind and human accomplishment are.

I think I would be very fulfilled in life if this passion for scholarship and intellectual expansion could be passed on to others.

University may be over, but the university of life isn’t.