On higher learning

BY HARRISON CARTWRIGHT

Four years and tens of thousands of dollars later, my slow limp across tertiary education’s finish line is finally beginning to move into sight. There’s a foot-high pile of assignments sitting in a corner of my wardrobe, and a collection of textbooks worth roughly half a years wages piled on my bookshelf.

So what have I learned? A lot actually. And not much of it actually took place in classrooms.

In fact, academically, I don’t feel all that different. It’s been nearly half a decade and I still haven’t got my head around the Harvard referencing system. Nor have I cottoned on to how much easier my life would be should I actually utilise some time-managment skills and not leave almost everything until the night before it’s due. I know that, realistically, I’m probably much more intelligent than I was back in my HSC days – but the real bulk of the learning, at least for me, has been in the broadening of my mind.

I look at the crowd of people that I fell into my early university days and I often think of it as a particularly well cast season of Big Brother (the earlier, pre-famewhore years), where no two people were the same, and everyone had their own uniquely compelling story to tell. If university taught me anything it’s that people are endlessly fascinating, and that there’s nothing quite as special as the curious habit the universe has of bringing complete strangers together.

It also taught me that it’s perfectly acceptable to be drunk at midday and to become so caught up in discussions ranging from theology, to politics, to Doctor Who, that you’re out of your seat and yelling without even noticing. The Tuesday morning rehashing of Q&A is a hotly anticipated weekly event, and there is nothing more deeply irritating than student council elections.

University taught me to take pride in my achievements. Sure, for the most part I operated under the ‘P’s Get Degrees’ mentality that seems to be the mantra of so many students – but there were also the times (and they weren’t too common), were I’d have the opportunity to really flex my creative and academic muscles. To take an idea and run with it. Having your hard work really pay-off is one of the more rewarding experiences life can offer you, and if there’s one thing I’d like to carry with me into a post-university world, it’s that.

Above all else, it’s helped me to really understand how integral the constant quest for knowledge is to the human condition – no matter who you are, where you come from, where you’re going or who you’re going there with. That there’s nothing more important than opening yourself up to the possibility of something new – of looking at life from a new perspective.

Article by Harrison, who tries not to think too much about the fact he’s now in his seventeenth consecutive year of education.

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