Nerd Alert: How To Take Your Education Into Your Own Hands
Blogger: Emily Johnson
If you have ever been on one of my tours or in one of my information sessions, you likely heard me gush about professors, babble on about the beauty of office hours, and boast about the amazing required reading in college. Surprisingly, I don’t think this is so uncommon at Oxy.
Just reading that over, I understand how nerdy it sounds. But, over my four years at Oxy, I have become proud of my nerdiness. And with graduation just a few months away, I find myself reflecting on how my nerdiness has prepared me for the world that awaits. My nerdiness and appreciation for learning taught me how to be the author of my educational experience.
I now realize that I wrote my own educational story when I chose to stray into uncharted territories. I started small, by taking classes in subjects I had never been exposed to in high school such as Sociology (which later turned into my minor). Then, I began venturing into professor’s office hours to review outside articles and ask for their thoughts and critical analysis to help inform my thinking. Along the way, I signed up for an internship class through the Psychology department where I interned at a community mental health clinic and gained both work experience and academic credit. Finally, I signed up for a studio art class (despite my lack of artistic ability) and found myself signing up for another the next semester because I enjoyed bending my brain beyond the regular disciplines. (I could literally feel my brain work in a different way!)
During this last semester at Oxy, I ventured even further into unfamiliar territory. First, I signed up for an independent study in order to expand on a prior paper of mine in a subject area of which I am passionate about. Second, I became a preceptor for one of my favorite classes. Having previously taken this class, through my preceptorship, I am able to both revisit the material and dip my toes in the water of what it takes to run a college course.
Looking back at these educational and academic experiences in the rearview mirror, I realize how much they taught me to own my degree and feel like I truly got everything out of my four years in college. And with that, comes an awareness that my college experience wasn’t predetermined (like high school often is). I authored my Occidental experience.
With graduation approaching, I reflect on these experiences and my ability to shape my education with the stark realization that soon, I will not have access to empirical articles, art classes, or professors available for my annoying questions. But somehow, even as a self-proclaimed nerd, I am not depressed about leaving Occidental. Rather, in reflecting on the story I wrote at Occidental, I see a new educational opportunity outside of the institutional walls of college. I see the chance to continue my education, through taking independent drawing classes, continuing my academic reading through books or newspapers, and by simply challenging myself in my (fictional) future job.
After all, the inner nerd must live on.