An Inefficient Education

education mattersIn a lot of ways, I suspect that I am the sort of student that the majority of the Utah Legislature dislikes.

I’m not majoring in a STEM field. Quite the opposite, I am majoring in political science and Spanish. And I am certainly not heading into a field with great economic projections or potential as a revenue generator for the state of Utah. Political science is often referred to as a “degree-to-nowhere” within the walls of the state capitol.

I have never taken more than 15 credits in a semester. I am privileged to have the flexibility to take 12 credits in a semester. I am also fortunate to have my tuition paid by a scholarship, so the state of Utah is almost completely paying for my higher education degree.

While I am planning on graduating within four years, I am not opposed to graduating in five. Graduating in an “efficient” manner is not a goal of mine.

My upcoming fall semester will be very inefficient by many standards. I will be studying abroad (don’t worry, state of Utah, you aren’t paying for this) and I will be surprised if one of the five courses I will take will fulfill any degree requirements.

Why am I going?

To be in another culture – among different people and different ideas. To immerse myself not only in the language but also in the subject of education policy and advocacy in a different context. To test myself in a way that multiple choice exams cannot — by experience. To stretch my character and beliefs.

To me, that is an education – explorative and creative, elusive and enlightening.  I hope, of course, that I will contribute meaningfully to my community and state but I doubt that any contribution that I make will be fiscal. These are values that cannot be measured by the market and cannot be analyzed against economic projections.

For the next four months I will be studying education policy and advocacy in Chile and Argentina. I won’t return closer to graduating or contributing to Utah’s economy, but I will return a different person, hopefully, challenged by new experiences.

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