Are We Wasting Our University Education?

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Are We Wasting Our University Education?

“What did you study in college?”

I asked my friend Anna, who’s currently working as a freelance communications specialist.

“English literature.”

It was unexpected. I’ve known her through my professional network and because she’s awesome at her job, so I always assumed that she studied communication or international relations. This brief conversation gave me the answer I was looking for last five years.

I’ve never expected to walk on a life path that I didn’t plan far ahead. I have always been a dreamer and a planner. I have a box full of schedulers I’ve used up since I could remember and this habit is continued to this day. I like writing things down, making plans, and following them with some spontaneous kicks. I always had a lot of things I wanted to do in my life. I wanted to be so many different things. Education was the way for me to fulfill my dreams. I believed doing well in school would lead me to make my dreams come true. Even though I had many (too many) unique side activities during my school years, study always came first. I was fairly good at everything I did; I enjoyed learning new things. With that education, I got a great job in my field even before finishing my Master’s course.

Academic education became a big part of my life. It’s a big part of who I am. When I’m learning something new, I need a notebook, pen, and a proper lecture schedule. Otherwise I can’t take it seriously. That’s the reason why I struggled so much (inside and out) when I decided to leave my job to something unknown. I spent six years studying mechanical engineering and professionally trained for two and a half years. Everything else I was doing was merely a hobby. My world was that black and white then. That academic in me left everything I’ve known for last 27 years. And the doubts began…

I did all that study for what? What do I know about business? Blogging? Why I’m abandoning my education? My degrees are now as good as a piece of paper. I couldn’t stop thinking that I was throwing out everything I worked so hard. Even though the job nearly killed my soul, the conventional side of me couldn’t let go of the conventional path. I left, nonetheless, because my desired to ‘follow my dream’ was too big. But the questions have been haunting me ever since. I did leave my the world of engineering. I do absolutely nothing related to engineering in my daily life. I have failed my old self. During the difficult transition, someone told me ‘You’re going to use the academic knowledge in other aspects of your life’. I said the same thing to my father who was extremely disappointed at my life decisions. He thought I was fooling him. Honestly, I was fooling myself too.

I asked Anna if she wanted to go back to the field of literature. If she thought all her education went to waste because she didn’t pursue her academic path. Her answer was like seeing a ray of sunshine after drizzly days. She said because how and what she studied, she could be better at her job now. Some aspects from her college education are benefiting her current life. Her study in literature involved in reading lengthy and difficult texts. She was a vigorous reader and that’s why she chose to study literature. The education shaped her reading comprehension skills into the next level. Working in a NGO sector as a communication specialist, her work involves reading various important documents, which are not exactly a leisure reading material. Just like that, I just found a long-lost piece of puzzle.

My love of science lead me to fall in love with the Arctic environment

When I told my father that my studies wouldn’t go to waste; he thought it was my desperate attempt to reason him. I don’t think I truly believed that either. I was speaking someone else’s line. But looking back at last five years, now I believe it. What Anna said absolutely made sense. The education did stick with me. My problem solving skills, ability to spot problems, knowledge in technology and IT, scientific instincts, and even as small as Microsoft Office skills are all fruits of my efforts. Those aspects definitely helped me figuring to this unconventional life path as a professional blogger and photographer. The advanced education isn’t the only characteristics defines who I am. It is a conventional belief in my society but now I have grander definition in life. Every moments of life, the choices, challenges, and education shaped me into the person I am today.

So, there it is. I didn’t abandon my education after all. I don’t need to feel so guilty anymore. My six years of advanced education is still in me. I’ve been indirectly using that knowledge, turns out. If this has been holding you to make a decision in search of your true happiness, don’t. There’s no experience goes to waste. One way or another, it becomes one of the pieces that completes your puzzle. Also, don’t you think it’s fair to lighten some of the burdens off of your 19-year-old self, when you decided what to study in college? The world is ever-changing, and we have to too.

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .

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