Jack of Many Trades

Dropping Out of College to Learn Something

Originally posted: 2010-12-01

The other day I finally got in to see my advisor (a full month after I tried to schedule the first time, and 29 days after class registration opened). Going over my requirements was depressing. I'm looking at a minimum of three more semesters at 15-16 credits a semester because many of my old credits didn't transfer.

But I'll be honest, I was already thinking about bailing on college. I'm no longer enamored with the idea of grad school, particularly since I finally admitted to myself that I don't like academia as much as I thought I did.

Later that night, I was thinking about taking an art class because it would break up the monotony of 15 credits of social justice. I noticed a metalworking art class - but it required six credits of prerequisites in generic low-level art classes. Typical, right?

Since I was thinking about it, I went looking to see what kind of metalworking art classes were offered in the community. There were one or two offered by the city but the times didn't work with my schedule. I checked what the local community college had, and I ended up at their welding program, which offers blacksmithing as one of the courses.

I found it very tempting. In some ways, it feels like the interest in metalwork has come out of the blue, but the more I think about it, the more it really hasn't. In middle school and high school we were constantly pushed away from "vocational" courses. In middle school, I managed wood shop but never quite argued my way into metal shop. In high school, it wasn't considered compatible with academic-track classes to take shop in high school, so I let it go. But I've played with wire a lot, and with found sculpture, and with clay sculpture. We experimented with sheet brass and planned to get into metal clay.

The idea of going to school, getting a grade that goes on the GPA for it, is scary as all get out - that kind of education is way, way outside my comfort zone. There's no guarantee I'll do well at it the way I feel like there is with traditional academia. On the other hand, it's a very practical, marketable skill as well as being something I'm creatively interested in, and how many people can say that? Financially it makes sense, too - community college is a lot cheaper than state universities, after all.