“To know, is to know that you know nothing.
That is the meaning of true knowledge.”
“You dropped $150,000 on a fucking education you coulda got for $1.50 in late charges at the public library.”
– “Good Will Hunting“
I graduated from college just over six months ago. During my four years at Wesleyan University, I accumulated over 190 credit hours, taking courses in philosophy, history, film, microbiology, organic chemistry, physics, economics, psychology, political science, neuroscience, and sociology. It was a liberal arts education, to be sure.
At this junction, however, I already seem to be losing my grasp on most of those subjects I studied. Although I once knew this material well enough to pass my courses, I now maintain only a cursory understanding of the subject matter. Neural connections that would otherwise bring forth the particulars of an oxidation reaction or the calculation of an excise tax have decayed from neglect, pruned to make space for more salient data.
The substance of an undergraduate education, of course, is not found just in the information one learns from lectures. Rather, the value of higher education also comes with the rigorous intellectual atmosphere provided, through which critical thinking skills develop, viewpoints are challenged, and introspection about one’s position in society and in the cosmos can be undertaken.
(Whether present institutions of higher education, including those lauded as “elite,” foster such environments is a topic for another piece.)
No matter this aside, I am troubled by the deterioration of my hard-earned college education in my memory bank. Can I truly claim to have consummate knowledge— or at least one worthy of a bachelor’s degree— of neuroscience and economics if certain concepts escape me just six months after graduation?
Over the last month, I began to devise a method to efficiently re-learn most of the information I was taught at Wesleyan and in my AP classes in high school with the goal of retaining the material for the rest of my working life and applying the knowledge to future projects. If the framework proves successful, I aim to use it to gain a deep understanding of other disciplines.
Though college may have ended, my intellectual appetite is far from sated.
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