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learning musings

There are two types of students. Those who seem to have a natural gift to excel at everything they do without much effort and everyone else. Despite having an easy time of pre-university education, I found that I fell very much into the latter category.

I didn’t find university especially easy. I loved the lifestyle, but academically I left a lot to be desired. I found much of the bureaucracy maddening and was often bored by seemingly irrelevant theory that I seldom had time or reason to put into practice. It turns out that I make a much better software developer than academic.

As the years dragged on, I became increasingly frustrated with the whole affair and had to develop a way to see it through without failing while still making the most of my time at university.

I needed an outlet of course, so I put a lot of energy into my kung fu practice. I also needed to get my degree so I developed a coping strategy for that, too. I decided that the most efficient way to do ‘well enough’ in my studies was to put enough energy into all my courses to pass, but not exceed, and only really focus on the ones I enjoyed and was naturally good at. I chose optional courses based on how much fun I thought I’d have, as the best motivation always comes from fun.

I ended up with a number of low passes, a few courses with a first class grade and some in the middle. Overall, I did okay, and I’m happy with my result relative to the amount of suffering I chose to put up with.

I’ve known a lot of students to torture themselves with courses they hate, not sleeping and suffering a great deal when they could be dividing their attention in a more biassed way and achieving ‘good enough’ results without sacrificing their sanity.

Many would disagree with me or call my approach irresponsible. I don’t care; I think it is irresponsible to sacrifice your health and happiness for a different number on a piece of paper that makes so little difference to my life.

I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but it worked for me. I believe this is the right approach to university for people who want a degree but don’t fit in too well with the demands of traditional academia. A better solution would be a more progressive educational institution that places higher value on ability and putting theory into practice than on publishing research papers. I suppose it depends on what you want as a student. I wanted only to learn things of practical value to me, so I focussed on those areas and scraped by everywhere else so do ‘well enough’ overall. Your mileage may vary.