Editorial Pages

Choosing a degree

When I started at AU I had lofty goals. No way was I going to be one of those indecisive, underachievers who went for a bottom of the barrel, 3-year general studies degree. No, I had to be a four year degree with not one, but two majors, completed in just under three years…

How things have changed.

I realize now that when I started I didn’t really understand what getting an education was all about. I just knew it was good for me, and would open doors in my future. I wanted the best for myself, and also to prove something to others. Only the most challenging and lengthy credential would do. I fancied myself a true scholar, working toward maximum enlightenment and diversity of knowledge, for knowledge sake.

An interesting thing happened along the way. I learned a lot about myself, about the world, and about the global, artistic, and scientific context in which we live. I guess that’s what they call “being educated.” Before long, I was deviating from my chosen degree path and taking courses from a wide variety of disciplines, exploring different choices of majors and eventually dropping the idea of a major altogether. What I once found challenging I began to see as limiting and detrimental to the scope of my education. Still, I remained on the four-year path because I’ve always wanted to leave my options open for a Masters degree.

That change last week, when I change my registration to the once-dreaded three-year B.GS, which I’ve now embraced for its flexibility. Think about it: it is highly unlikely that any two people with a B.GS will ever graduate with the same course selection! The B.GS may be the ultimate scholar’s degree.

I have to admit that finances have become a larger consideration as my education has progressed. When I began with AU in 1998 courses cost $378 each. They are now about $200 more than that and the cost of a degree has skyrocketed. I began to question, just this year, if I was willing to complete my degree (for which I have about 3/4 of the credits). If only I’d known sooner that the AU MAIS degree (the true scholar’s Master’s program, in my opinion) program admits people with a three year credential! Hence my decision to switch to the three-year program and begin Masters studies that much earlier.

My point is that no matter what your initial goals when you enter university, never stop revisiting and revising those goals, and never stop asking questions. University program selection is so complex and offers so many options that it can take months or years in university before you have a firm grasp on all the paths that are open to you. You may also find that the subject that interested you most in the beginning, falls by the wayside as something new entices you.

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