Just recently I completed my undergraduate education at Boston University with a BS in Electrical Engineering. The moment I walked out of that last final exam for Analog Electronics was probably the happiest I’ve been in a long time. It was like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders in that I no longer have to worry about studying for another test or completing yet another assignment. Finally having the time to pursue my own curiosities without the nagging feeling that there’s something else more pressing to do. That’s not to say I hated pursuing my education, if anything this experience has been one of the most valuable and rewarding experiences of my entire life. I will very much miss being able to list my occupation as “student,” a person whose one job in life is to be a full time learner of whatever their heart desires. I often say to my friends that if it were a viable career path I would stay in University forever pursuing all kinds of degrees not just in Engineering or STEM subjects for that matter but I would love to pursue my interests in the social sciences. It goes without saying, education is a very important part of my life and I would argue that it’s a very important part of society.
The way I describe education is that it is a resource that is both extremely valuable yet infinitely replicable. I believe that if we as a society just invested a lot more into education we can solve many of the problems that ail us now and in the future. Without going into grave detail education is the great equalizer of society and the one way to break the cycle of poverty. Get an education, get a good job, provide better for your kids, and they get a better job… This idea which has been ingrained in my head since high school economics makes me so thankful for the sacrifices my parents have made to get me where I am today. As a first generation child of immigrants, I realize how many hardships they’ve overcome just so that I could be born in the USA and then have the best education they could provide for me growing up. What really breaks my heart though is when I see students at my university given every opportunity in the world and they just throw it all away by failing classes or doing the bare minimum without learning a thing. It’s what makes me work hard each and every day to make the most of what is given to me. Every grade short of the best I could do is a waste of the time, money, and effort it took to get me here.
Now a little more about my undergraduate experience. These past four years have been some of the most important years of my life developmentally. I came into college fresh out of the high school wanting to major in “Electrical Engineering” simply because I had a knack for electronics and taking things apart. In reality, I had no idea what I was getting myself into and I don’t think anyone ever does as a high schooler. It’s actually quite ridiculous when you think about it, your college major is probably one of the more important decisions you will ever make yet there’s very little help out there for students who need to make it. Too many people spend too much money making that decision after the fact and I wish there were a way to give people an idea of what they’re really signing up for. For example, nobody told me I would be learning a dozen different programming languages each with its own special use case. Or that esoteric subjects like quantum physics and differential calculus would be things I not only need to know about but should understand really well. There’s just so much to each major that you don’t realize until well into the degree. Thankfully it all worked out in the end for me and I couldn’t be any happier about my field of study but I can’t help but feel sorry for those that aren’t.
I realize I started this post with a certain idea in mind, but after rambling on and on that kind of just got lost. Basically what I’m getting at is that education and the general availability of information is a really important subject to me and that it should be really important to everyone else. By providing a quality education to anyone who desires it, we can reduce inequalities in our societies and solve many problems in society. In this modern day age with the miracle of TCP/IP that enable the distribution of information at little to no cost to the masses there should be no excuse that anyone with the passion to learn about a subject can’t learn. Further, a university education is one of the greatest opportunities in life that an individual can receive. Anyone who wastes that opportunity is a fool.