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Semi-Retirement for the Under Twenties: Part 7

University is Not Essential For a Fulfilling Life

So how does the ambition of part-time work guide you on what to study if you are still at school? Do the subjects you like. If you can, do the ones which have the most inspiring teachers, since these teachers are examples of how best to take pleasure in your capabilities. (Inspiring teachers are thin on the ground, not because there are few people who genuinely love to teach, but because they have been so ground down by their full-time career.) Learning how to take pleasure in your genuine capabilities is what education ought to be for but rarely is.

If you feel it important to go to university, do the subjects whose exams you can pass. If your capabilities do not lie in passing exams, don’t worry. Spend your time discovering your creative capabilities. Exams are not essential for part-time work.

You ask: so should I go to college or university? This is a difficult question. Universities can be fantastic places for meeting inspirational people, learning how to live with others, and having the freedom to investigate your genuine capabilities. Art college is an environment set up for the understanding of the pleasure of creative ideas. But nowadays going to college or university also saddles you with enormous debts, debts that are such a burden that upon graduation you may have no option but to find full-time work. There is the great danger that, forced to then find a well-paid career job, you may never escape.

Society gives us the idea that much of our life must be spent studying or training to attain some better, distant future. If you are taking pleasure in the present by investigating your creative capabilities there is no need for this. The path for many graduates is: leave university and spend months or years in part-time subsistence work, and all your spare time applying for that good career job; finally land the good career job; realise the stress and lack of fulfilment of a full-time career job; wonder how you can return to the part-time employment that you had when you first graduated. Just skip the career part, and the problem is solved.

You do not have to go to university. The benefits you gain there, the communal living with your peers, the freedom, the interesting people whom will turn your life in unknown directions, these can all be had elsewhere for a fraction of the price. Travelling and working abroad can give you equivalent social experiences. Education, in its pure sense of gaining knowledge, can be obtained through independent study, through the Open University if you require some structure, or just on your own. You may also decide it better to attend university part-time, and perhaps as a mature student, in order to lessen the crippling debts.

The only thing you cannot get outside of a university is a degree. A degree will help you get you a full-time career job. It is not necessary for part-time subsistence work.

next: Part 8 – Learn to Live Cheaply If You Desire Spare Time for Real Work