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Mount Creative Writers

Beautiful endings

Alexandra Tyminski
MSM Class of 2015

(9/2014) The dictionary defines education as "the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life."

We constantly hear that education is a debate in Congress. Where and how should money get divided up? We often hear it in homes when teaching kids. "Honey, this is how you ride your bike!" We hear it when parents are deciding where to send their kids to school. "Do you think that school would provide them with the best education?"

I know that education is important, and in fact, that is one of the most valuable lessons that my dad has taught me. Naturally, I have always associated the word education with school: elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. Although, with my senior year of college approaching, Iím starting to think that education does not end in a place with teachers, professors, and students.

Education, some say, is the key to getting a job. It is a necessity. It teaches more than just getting good grades, but rather it instills discipline, hard work, and perseverance to always do your best. This might be true for those who are passionate about learning, but not every student finds that type of motivation in that environment or feels that school is supposed to teach us more than a simple letter grade on a piece of white paper.

I told my editor I wanted to write an article on the importance of education. But, I want to present to you with something that can often be forgotten. This is a side that many people tend to look over, and it begins with those who never completed college. With all the talk about being a senior and the job hunting waiting for me in a few months, I got to thinking, is this the reason I go to college? To find a job and then thatís it? Is that the only way to have success in this world? Have we ever stopped to think about the successful people in this country who did not even complete college?

How about the famous Mark Zuckerberg, who dropped out of Harvard University and started the worldís largest social networking site we know today as Facebook. Did you know that Matt Mullenweg dropped out of the University of Houston to start WordPress? Did you also know that it powers 16% of the web today? John Mackey, a college dropout of the University of Texas, founded Whole Foods, the organic grocery store we know and love today. Twenty-five years after Mackey started the store, it grew into an international company. We canít forget about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Neither Gates, a co-founder of Microsoft, nor Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., graduated from college. Gates dropped out of Harvard University and Jobs dropped out of Reed College.

So what are all of these men showing us? That there are ways to succeed without the path of college? That there are more things to learn outside of a nice looking university building? These are both true. However, Iím not advocating that one path is better than the other. But, I do believe that these men who dropped out of college to found such successful organizations teach us that learning happens anywhere, and it does not necessarily have to include a college setting. You may be wondering why Iím bringing this up now, but it seems essential to dive into the concept of education as I take my next journey as a senior. Senior year is a time when we take our last year of school and embrace every moment of it. We are to enjoy the last year of college before the "real world" and gear up for all the responsibilities we are going to face in just one short year. It is where we finally get to throw the towel in and say, "Ah no more homework! No more classes!" Iím starting to understand and think that this might be the most false depiction of how to approach senior year. There will no longer be lesson plans and a professor standing in front of us, but this is just the beginning of the lessons of life.

As I have reached my final stage of college, Iím learning the real importance of education. Those who attend college, learn their major. Those who didnít could have mastered a trade or begun their own business. Everyone is different and education will mean something different to every person. To me, I think that education in life is the most important thing. Iím not just referring to the classroom, but rather the lessons we learn. The lessons we learn in life are similar to those from a classroom. Our positive and negative experiences are the teachers and professors pushing us to be better than we already were. The knowledge we gain from these experiences are the textbooks we read every year. The friends we make in life are much like the ones in our group projects, and we get frustrated with them when they donít hold up their end of the relationship. The reflections we have on who we are and what we want to accomplish is our homework, and the feedback we get from our future bosses and peers are our grades. Every part of lifeís classroom has a lesson for us to learn.

When I first starting writing this article, I asked myself why I like to learn. I said the answer I always say, "I like it because it teaches me something I need to know." I then thought to myself, well do I really need to know about American history if Iím a business major? What about infectious diseases? Yes, I need to know it all. But why? So again I can succeed and be the best?

No. I need to know it because it gives us knowledge that is so precious in todayís world. Iím seeing now more than ever that learning isnít always seemingly relevant. It may not be directly relevant to my major, but it is important to know. Just like I might not want to experience a painful situation in life, but I do because it is probably something I needed to learn. The "real world" holds a reality of lessons, but ones that I feel Mount St. Maryís has prepared me to take on.

Facing the real world is scary when you think about paying bills, getting a "real job," entering "reality." However, I think that for us seniors (and those I have known), it is so easy to get lost in a certain identity. That identity lies in different categories: the stressed senior, the "going to graduate school" senior, the "I have no idea what Iím doing" senior, the "Iíve already applied to 10 jobs" senior? But, I think that the authentic reality Iím going to document isnít any one of these seniors. The senior we all want to know and cherish are our inner selves that yearn for adventure and soak up bittersweet memories, our senior selves.

I have spent many times dreading an assignment or questioning what Iím learning. Not this year. I wonít pass those opportunities up because Iím realizing that authentic reality in being a senior means revealing the "reality" to come, but also its genuineness. I want to remember my last year, but look forward to the lessons yet to come. I want to live in the present, but I want to understand that what is forward is like an ocean, never knowing how big the next wave will be. The future wonít always be easy, but I also believe it canít make an eager and willing-to-learn soul die young (or ever for that matter.)

In just a few weeks, my senior education will be on full-speed. There will be times this year when maybe somewhere deep within Iím begging to graduate, but there will also be the reality that I will never get these moments again. Being sentimental in September? Yes. For I believe this is the only way I will live out my year to the fullest and learn the most out of my college education. In that case, should every day be sentimental? As if it was my last? Living in the moment is important, Iím learning. Iím not sure if the genuine reality of the present or the future is more stressful, but I am sure that the authentic reality of my senior year lessons begins now. However, the future classroom awaits me.

Read other articles by Alexandra Tyminski