More about the new college goal…

It was interesting from the last post, I got a question about which college I was thinking at going to. And I realized I was introducing my plan in a very soft and hidden fashion, because I am scared of it.

When I say I want to go to “college.” I mean, I want that intense period of education again. But I have just about decided it will not happen at a degree granting secondary institution — since those seem to be a lot of money and wasted time between the few moments of learning you get there.

When I first thought about going back to “college,” out of a desire for that intense period of learning, I did thing about going to one of those degree granting places.

Initially, I looked to my alma mater (JMU) and looked for degrees that would allow me a high latitude of choice in my area of study, as well as traditional degrees on the things I like: computers, music and history. I made contacts with professors and administrators and sounded out how possible it would be for me to continue my education that way. It would be expensive (as I’d be out-of-state again) and I’d need to do some pushing for an academic sponsor, but I could do it.

I also examined programs near where I lived that were of a similar bent. Stanford offers an adult-focus liberal studies masters that is almost exactly what I think. The cost here would be even higher, but theoretically it could be done while working if I gave up all other activities.

There are two drawbacks to the traditional academic path. The first is my current degree. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Media Arts and Design. It is a hybrid degree that isn’t a traditional path. Any academic program that accepts me (especially traditional ones I might pursue, such as history, music, art or computer science) will probably hand me a large load of undergraduate work to “normalize” me into the round or square peg they expect as a graduate student. In other words: a lot of my education time would be taken up with various forms of busy work. More-so than already happens in a graduate degree.

And that leads over to the second drawback: money. Or more specifically: value for the amount spent. If I pursue a traditional degree, I am shelling out a lot of money on top of my normal rent, health and food expenses. And a fair amount of what I will be buying will be coursework that I may not desire, or will be remedial. I understand that the higher mountain-peaks of education I desire rest on a good foundation of general education, but lets face it: how many courses did you take in college that were a waste of time?

In the basement of a building in Oakland, there is a master/apprentice instrument repair shop. Usually about a dozen guys are working there to learn how to be repairmen in the practical way. Many great repair shops on this coast came from that unofficial school. I’ve been there many times for work on my instruments and have marveled at the place and wished I had the time to work there and learn.

So that is what my “college” plan is. Save up enough to live on, and apprentice myself in the areas I desire. For example, there’s a composer I already know well and would love to approach with the following offer: I’ve got my bills paid for then next year. I want to learn composing. I’ll work for you as your assistant for free for a year if you will teach me on the way.

And that… I hope… would be real learning.

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