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All through my life I’ve had a problem with authority. No, I never did get in trouble with the cops (err not too much anyway!) and it wasn’t my parents I had a problem with. In fact, it wasn’t really any authoritative figure at all that I had a problem with, it was the principle that someone else was telling me that I was doing things wrong.
I won’t go as far as to say I’m perfect. No way, far from it. I have made my share of mistakes and have done plenty of things the wrong way but I have a real problem with someone coming out and saying that I’m doing it wrong before I’ve figured that out for myself, before I hit a wall and have to stop and say “yep, I took a wrong turn”. It’s not pride, it’s personality. I’m a hands on learner and no matter how many times you tell me something, I won’t fully understand it until I grasp it in my own two hands, until I see it for my own eyes and experience it fully.
I know that about myself now and don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think about the way I learn every single day and looking back, there are some times I wish I had accepted that I learn in a different way than how I was told I should learn and that’s ok. Here are some lessons I learned about college this way.
Book, book, books
I was told I needed books for college. I bought them. That was my first mistake. I never cracked a single book. I paid hundreds of dollars for books and never managed to read through any of them or use them in my classes because I am a hands on learning! Instead I would take the assignments given me, jump on the Internet and do some searching. I would research examples of what I was supposed to learn, and I would work through those examples on my own. I would visit forums where people were asking similar questions, follow the threads and work through the problems on my own. That’s just how I learn and guess what? The Internet is free! I should have accepted my own personality and left the books unchecked from the shopping list.
Do what I say
My parents and teachers will tell you I had trouble listening. Oh, I heard people fine but like I said, in one ear and out the other, I have to learn things on my own. Well, one instance where I actually fought my instincts (I think I was tired that day) and listened to the authority was with my school counselor when I was trying to get out of taking and worse, paying, for general education credits. You see, my personality being hands on, I’m driven by the challenge. I barely passed my GE because I was not challenged and thus not interested in the least bit. I tried getting out of the courses and was told there was no way, and I listened. If I had done my research at the time, I would have learned that I could have tested out of many of the credits I took GE courses for. That mistake cost me thousands of dollars and even more time than I want to think about.
My point here is that we are all different. That’s one of the major problems with traditional schooling, the lessons to be learned are blanketed generally over the students and if one of them is a different type of learner they miss out and struggle in future courses that rely on that initial foundation. What you must do is find out who you are – discover your own personality and how you learn the best and adapt that to the world and how it brings you challenges. Don’t let anyone try and conform you to the mold!
What lessons did you learn about yourself in college?