January 11, 2004 3:35 PM

I have a honest-to-God dilemma.

What the hell is education for?

Or better, why do you want to be educated, or what did you gain from it?

I ask this because the doubt of some friends who're changing schools next year has rubbed off on me.

It has nothing to do with pragmatism, whether the resulting degree is marketable. Education in my mind -- or college at least -- is greedy, ephemeral, and very expensive grab for the most good things that are placed at your dispense. It should change how you think and behave profoundly.

Should I really be, as they say they do at MIT, "drinking water from a firehose"? Would I benefit more from that, with all its difficulty, or should I slug along at more or less my own pace, having time for consideration, time to enjoy things? In which situation will you cumulatively gain more?

I've wondered if I'm even capable of putting a thoroughly concerted effort into school, and I feel like this past quarter is the closest I've ever been to that.

There's no doubt I've learned a great deal here. But could I have learned more elsewhere, with perhaps a different archetype of education?

I sincerely want your thoughts.