I have a new goal…

It’s simple really. I want to go back to college.

But not the kind of college you think of. When I look back on what I really, really got out of college it was two things:

#1 – Basic life skills. This includes, how not to drink too much. How to cook and do my own laundry. Setting an alarm clock and paying for staying up late. And learning how to correctly bend and manipulate rules, and how to sometimes talk yourself out of trouble with a cop or a boss.

#2 – A period of intense learning that developed a set of skills I rely on. When it really is cut down to what mattered, this comes down to about 3 different professors and about 6 classes that truly made a difference. Maybe about a dozen more classes that helped build a foundation that the high points stand on, but not really.

When I say I want to go back to college, I want to expand #2 from above.

College can be easily wasted. In some ways I was very lucky that it is in my nature to involve myself in stuff I think is interesting. It would have been very simple to coast through whatever degree was handed to me. Very few people, it seems to me, were treating it as an opportunity to learn. I really wasn’t either. But I lucked out that I was curious, and was given room by others to pursue that. I ended up swapping degrees, and almost becoming a staff member in another program as I helped them put together computer labs and start new courses. I ended up helping professors on personal work at their houses, and doing things that on-paper no administrator should have trusted to a simple undergrad student. I owe a lot to those people I mention above who let me truly learn. I guess in some ways, I lived a bit of Mark Twain’s quote: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

Even if I had been self-aware enough to take further control of my education at the time, I don’t think it would have done me any good. How would I have known then, the directions I would like to go now? The further directions I would like to go for my music and tech ideas? Hence, a desire for more “college.”

One of the strongest lessons I’ve learned in life is “don’t be the best person in the band.” I learned it hard in music in college as I showed up low in skill and was dumped into a superb talent pool. I have re-learned it again and again. The times I have improved the most have been the times I’ve felt like I am completely outclassed by the people around me. It motivates me to do better, and by having such shining examples constantly around you, it rubs off. And that’s been true for music, or programming, or managing, or sales, or whatever.

The thing I know now, is where I would like to go. And in some cases, I know professionals I would like to follow. I would love to spend a year learning music and arranging from professional composers I know. I know people who, if I had the time and bills covered, if I offered to show up and help them with their craft, in return for being apprenticed, who would probably gladly let me.

And that will be my next college. There is a tech boom looming right now, and I am looking at finally being out of debt and stable. If I can do that, and put away enough for a few years of stable living, I think my goal is to take myself to college.

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