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Training Footsoldiers of Capitalism - May 5th, 2012, 11:24 AM

Ran into that phrase earlier reading a Yahoo article on college degrees.

So in about six hours, I'll be sitting in a big room full of parents and spouses.
Oh yeah, and a bunch of people dressed in mortarboards and robes like myself.

I've been by intervals trudging with the weight of the world on my back and skipping lightly with a song in my heart along the road of higher education for eight years.

Let's look at what I've gained during my college years:
-Huge leaps in my abilities as a writer and editor
The University of Central Oklahoma's Creative Studies program has made me a better writer.
Which is what I set out to become when I took a year off (after three years of progressively worse failure), and decided to do college on purpose, so mission accomplished.
Everything from my concept of good storytelling, to character creation and development, to mastery of language has evolved to a huge degree in the three years I've been here.
I've also learned how to give and receive criticism with grace and professionalism, to the point that a visiting novelist giving a masterclass formally asked me to edit his next novel after I demonstrated "a natural gift for editing with the big picture in mind," and offered me $500 for the job.

-An amazingly deep and talented circle of friends
In high school I had always heard about how the social circle you form in college lasts a lot longer than the one you form in high school. At my first college I became very skeptical of this because all I saw was more high school. Even though we were all adults, even the eldest of us still behaved like teenagers.
Since my change of scene, however, my circle of friends has broadened and deepened with each succeeding semester.
Even when I would only know a person for a few months, then never see them again in class, we would keep in touch and continue to spend time together.
This trend has really ramped up in the past year, with eight new people added in a matter of months, and all of them already feeling like part of my group's bedrock.
Of course, the most amazing thing about it is there is no feeling of "aw, I'm graduating so we'll have to break up the group" like there was when I graduated from high school.
There's no sense that I'll have to find new friends just because I'm finally getting my bachelor's degree.

Oh yeah, there's also...
-A Bachelor of Arts in English with a focus on Creative Studies
I dunno what kind of monetary value the business world puts on this degree, but for me it represents a period of explosive growth in my life, as an artist, as a social creature, as a husband, as a friend, as a student (which really will never end...especially since I can just walk into a class and hang out at the back of the room).

That's a brief smattering, to be sure.
I've also learned what study habits and pre-test rituals work best for me, but the odds of me ever using those again outside of grad school is pretty much nil.

Many here would criticize my choice of major based on economics, because a degree in Creative Writing doesn't automatically lead to a job with benefits and room for advancement.
Others would say that because of the above fact, I'm not "contributing to society" by not choosing X-other degree.

For me, though, once I decided to get a degree, the reason was not economical.
I knew myself at least kinda well back then, and I knew where my greatest strengths, abilities, and interests lay (all around the same two things: music and writing).
I knew college could help me get better in the areas I was already good in, so I chose to attend, and focus on becoming a better writer.

I've discovered a love for writing comic books that I never would have been exposed to otherwise.
I've learned what makes each form of written storytelling unique, and how to master the nuances of each one.
I've expanded my literary repertoire to a massive degree (pun!), as well as my own body of work.

...and I think I'm to the point of rambling now.
My apologies.

I guess the reason I'm going through all of this in my mind is because at various points along this journey, it felt like it would never end.
Not because I would give up on it, but because time seemed interminable.

I didn't realize until the halfway point of this semester that school has become my comfort zone, a source of stress RELIEF rather than a source of stress.
This result has come about partially because I was able to structure my class schedule so that my last two semesters would consist solely of electives.
In the Creative Studies department, electives consist of round-table classes which focus on a particular type of writing (comic book writing, screenwriting, novel writing, etc), and creating at least a mid-sized manuscript of that type.

Thus I've been able to treat my classes as a time of release, a segment of the week to embrace my creativity and join with others in doing so.

In fact, most of my trepidation regarding post-college life has nothing to do with finding a job or establishing a career, but with suddenly LACKING that time of release, and having to find it in a life suddenly turned nebulous after more than two decades of structure.

I was wondering if any recent college graduates (or not so recent) could share your experiences immediately after graduating?

Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to God what is God's, and beware those who get one confused with the other.

“In many ways the evidence of our faith is found in our ability to control our tongue (or our keyboard)."
-Adam Hamilton, Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White
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