Experience is the true path for learning



Column by Austin Hill

For seven years I wondered how it would feel to graduate from college, and for a few more weeks I will continue to ponder.

Looking back, I know I never expected it to last this long. People reading this column may be shaking their heads in curiosity thinking, “Seven years? It shouldn’t take that long!”

Others reading this column know exactly what I am talking about.

You take a few years to get your feet wet, test the waters and take a few classes you like — before you know it you don’t even remember what major you signed up for.

At this point, you’re a few pounds heavier, you don’t remember what a good night’s sleep is and you probably have a severe addiction to coffee.

People change while they endure this experience. Many grow into adults while some regress into childhood — either way when you walk out or flunk out, you will be different person.

The structure of college courses changes every year, but the dynamic remains the same. People are forced to take classes that may or may not have anything to do with each other, causing students to change mental gears like the transmission on a car.

The point is to teach students  how difficult it can be to multi-task while being subjected to multiple levels of the “real world.”

Whether you fail or succeed is a result of your own merit and ambition. No matter how society, the school or even your family judges your trials, only you can truly say which side of the coin you belong.

Grades don’t determine a person’s wealth any more than money does. Good grades help a student the same way money helps provide opportunity, but neither define someone or their worth.

Grades measure the scale on which someone learns, helping to define what is the average of the classroom. Unfortunately bad grades will hold you back from completion of the educational process, but just because someone gets a D in a course doesn’t mean they did not learn or did not try.

In seven years, I have picked up a few D’s — and as I tell my family and friends, diploma starts with a “D” and ends with an “A.”

Those D’s will remain on my transcript to remind me I passed those classes. They were the ones I never thought I could get through, and although by the skin of my teeth, I did it.

Letter grades measure you against the average of the classroom, but people learn in different ways. Individuals make up society, and in order to maximize their true potential to do so, they must be taught in that philosophy.

In the ADD generation we live in, it should not be overlooked that students are dealing with the self-pressure, along with pressure from parents and peers. As a result, some students are pulled a hundred directions without being able to focus, without the help of methamphetamine medications.

For most students it takes getting help with studies, however a student with any sort of academic issue or a learning disorder must figure out what kind of problems they might face thay could inhibit their ability to grasp all the information they are charged with learning.

It took a few years of this journey to get that concept, and the only way I was able to get assistance was to seek it out. It was easy the first few years to party and hang out with others who enabled me to not to do homework or study, things that seemed unfulfilling.

In hindsight, the only thing regrettable about those years was how unrewarding they were because I didn’t tell enablers I needed to be responsible. No matter how much fun they were having getting drunk and being social, I needed to be having fun being responsible to my goals of graduation.

It sounds so much like an adult to put it that way, but it is the truth.

I have quit drinking and smoking while I have been in school, and the result was an increased ability to comprehend what I was being taught.

I lost a whole bunch of acquaintances but didn’t lose any friends, and the grades measuring me against the class have only risen.

I did not get involved in the “college aspect” of school. I didn’t do the Greek thing, join any clubs or participate in Student Government. My college experience was more about learning what effort is — what you give is what you get.

I learned everything the hard way, and for this I am a smarter person, but it left a few scars.

I met a lot of great students, professors and administrators. I broadcast over the airwaves of WRFL and wrote a bunch of articles for the Kernel. I cut down a ton of red tape and learned how to say ‘I’m sorry’ to those who put it up.

Most importantly I learned about myself. I learned what it is like to grow up, and when I walk out of here for the last time, I will know which side of the coin I chose to be on.