Cutting my Losses and Moving on! Why I am Withdrawing from my Masters.

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First of all, I would like to note that I am writing this blog post partly to rationalise my own decision not to continue on with my Masters degree in Sustainability and Climate Policy. I have absolutely nothing against higher education in general and consider completing a Bachelor of Arts to be one of my greatest achievements to date.

During my Arts degree, I began to learn how to think. This is an achievement in itself considering that throughout primary and high school I was primarily taught what to think and memorise in order to maximise my test scores. This did not sit well with me and I was often told by teachers’ things like “don’t write that, the examiners won’t like it” and “think inside the box and play it safe”. As if my sole purpose in life was to please the examiners…

I have always had an interest in the humanities and social sciences and as my Undergraduate degree progressed I found that I had a passion for climate change and environmental issues. I could no longer see myself pursuing a career or lifestyle that didn’t focus in some way on sustainability. I still can’t.

So as a logical follow on from my degree, I enrolled into a Masters of Sustainability and Climate Policy which I am currently undertaking via distance.

But whilst studying my first subject ‘Leadership in Sustainability’, I found that I wasn’t enjoying it. Yes the subject material was interesting; however the online mode and lack of interaction with peers and lecturers meant that I may as well have been studying the same course material purely out of interest and saving myself from accruing a substantial HECS Debt. In many ways, my Masters was beginning to feel like a regression back to high school.

When this thought came to mind I was horrified. I felt like the world might end if I didn’t finish my Masters (slight exaggeration). But what would I do instead?  How would I even define myself?

Well after doing some soul searching and talking it over with my partner, friends and family I have come to the conclusion that I don’t need a Masters degree in sustainability to be sustainable and I don’t need to study leadership in order to lead.

Life is too short to blunder through a degree which has little practical application just for the sake of it. The world’s problems are too urgent, and all though I recognise that I cannot solve them, I would like to take solace in the fact that I can contribute. I can get out there and live a sustainable life. And teach others to do so. I can sell honey, and make chutney, and garden and hopefully raise a family who appreciates the intrinsic value of nature.

So upon finishing my Leadership in Sustainability subject next week, I intend to withdraw from my Masters and pursue the things in life which truly make me happy.

This is by no means the end of my formal education and I may (hopefully) go back to study various courses in the future, but for now pursuing an online degree for the sake of a graduation certificate is not something I am comfortable with.

Over the course of the next few years I hope to gain an informal education and a wealth of experience by traveling to new places, meeting new people, and perhaps attempting to learn a language. I want to reconnect with my passion for photography, and improve my gardening skills through trial and error. I may even write a book (one day).

Although many people will think that I haven’t given this degree enough of a change (only doing one subject) it is worth recognising when to cut your losses and move on. And at 23, I can always go back and reenrol in a Masters or other Postgrad degree in the future.

This was far from an easy decision but it is one which I hope will open new doors and allow me to gain new experiences outside the world of formalised study.

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For links to some well-rounded alternatives to a post graduate education please see:

http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/the-one-year-alternative-graduate-school-program/

http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/01/8-alternatives-to-college/

http://www.thielfellowship.org/category/peter-thiel/

Although these links largely relate to the American college experience, the general message is transferable across the world.

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2 Comments

  1. While I think that one course would typically not be enough to really evaluate a program, since the concern is the medium and not the message (apologies to McLuhan 🙂 the challenges of on-line learning certainly are rapidly discoverable. Good luck in a new direction with live people!

    1. Thank you for your comment 🙂 I have nothing against the Masters program itself. It is just that I don’t enjoy online learning and could put my time to better use doing more practical sustainability initiatives within my personal life and community. I would also like the opportunity to travel more and experience new ways of learning outside of the formalised education system.

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