Spencer Richard

Why I Quit University


As I type this at 1:30am on a Sunday night, I gingerly slice up a microwaved cheese-smokey for consumption, and I ponder everything.

I have just arisen from bed where my wife is surely still awake due to my incessant back-cracking and shifting. The world is a different place for me now that I’m married—a better place, a stabler place. I now live in a world where I am absolutely confident in another’s love for myself and my love for another, where responsibility meets the apex of comfort, where no weight is carried alone, yada yada. It’s great. All of this privilege, though, all of this wondrous, mysterious grace in my life, and yet—

I can’t sleep.

The reason undoubtedly has to do with the title of this post, else I probably wouldn’t have just written it. So, what is it then? What is the big reason for me to drop everything I’m doing in university and start looking for work? What could possibly warrant this sort of decision barely one week after the wedding?

This innocuous little joke probably just cost my mom a minor heart attack. You're welcome, everybody.

This innocuous little joke probably just gave my mom a minor heart attack.


No, I keep writing questions because I know that as a writer, eventually I will notice three question marks in a row and be compelled to change the flow. I will be compelled to give the answer. Well here it is—the result of weeks of discussion, much given advice, and not to mention all the agonizing soul-searching my poor wife had to hear me whimper about:

School takes too much of time from my creative projects, which kills me and makes me miserable. It is not good to be miserable, therefore, I should not do school.

Doesn’t that sound like the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard? It might be. That or it’s the simplest, most brilliant piece of reason I have ever concocted. Of course there are other reasons that accompany this central logic, the one I’ll mention is money.

This is perhaps the most interesting support for the decision, because it seems to be the only bi-partisan proposition in this whole affair. See, I could say that school costs too much money and English majors don’t have an easy time finding money once they graduate, and so-on and so-on until it makes sense to me that I should start whoring my Class 1 license out to the highest Albertan bidder—Or I could say that staying in school, while taking money for another two years, will offer me more opportunities for work in the future, more stable, family orientated job opportunities and so-on until it makes sense to me that I should start pimping my writing abilities for essays on classicist literature in the eighteen hundreds. Money is just, money, and it seems to support my decision, but I am aware that it’s a dummy card. The real decision is because of that bold sentence up there. That stupid one. It basically comes down to me stamping my foot and saying, “I don’t like it!”

But then again, I’ve always been that way. Some call it short-sighted and stupid, others call it passionate. I am forever reminded of a favorite teacher of mine back in high-school who once spoke with my parents about their troublesome child. Mr. Sawchuck displayed his sincere gift of observation and understanding when he said, “If Spencer is interested in something, he will give it 110% [I’m reminded at this point that Mr. Sawchuck was not my math teacher]. If he isn’t interested in something, he will do absolutely nothing.”

Up to this point in my life there have been very few things that have warranted that 110% attention of mine, and though I admit many of them go through cycles of interest, the few I can list are comprised almost entirely of WRITING WRITING WRITING. Writing music, writing stories, writing little self-confessionals like this, writing articles, writing columns, writing really, really bad poetry. This is something I have been doing all my life, this is something I continue to do no matter what. When something gets in the way of writing, it either gets kick-punched into oblivion or it remains and drags me into personal oblivion.

This is how I am built, it is my design. I am choosing now to see it this way and not to see it as a defect—a weakness.

That being said, the whole “quitting university” thing doesn’t have to be a be-all-end-all sort of decision. A few W’s on my transcript won’t deprive me of a good degree, should I ever choose to return to it. It is possible I just do one course at the time or something later on. While this is the best decision for me now, that doesn’t mean things can’t change in the future. And before I conclude, I think I ought to tell you:

I’m not against education. I fricking love education, it’s why I was in school in the first place. No point being a writer if I am not educated enough about something to write about it. The thing is, I can still attain much education by challenging myself to step out of the box (buddump chsss) and adopt real mentors in real life. Learning in university is only one form of learning. It can still happen “out there” in the wild, right? Additionally, I am the type who likes to read a book every night. The big thing that stops me from doing this good practice is, believe it or not, university.

Q: But won’t work get in your way just as much as school?

My answer: School comes home with me, every minute of every day. It is of the same nature as creativity (projects, papers, etc.) and so it vies for all the mental attention. Work, at least most of the blue-collar jobs I am fit for, stays at work. My most productive time as a writer was this summer when I was working fourteen ten-hour days in a row. It can be done when your mind is free to do it.

In sum, I am making a great big decision, but it was not an easy decision and it was not made overnight. It will likely haunt me somewhat, but with perseverance and character, I’m hoping it may be one of the wisest things I do in my early life. Here’s giving a sincere thank you to my wife (it’s still weird to write wife) who has put up with me for three years now, and who supports me no matter what and always encourages the better parts of me to flourish.

Until next time.

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Spencer Richard

was once a small town columnist for THE HINTON PARKLANDER (2008-2009). Before then he performed to an unsuspecting audience of over 8,000 people during the ALBERTA WINTER GAMES in 2006. Later he had one of his own songs, ON THE WAY, produced by Black Road Records (2013) and showcased it in with an original music video. He is currently working on a couple of novels and a rap album. During the day he manages a book store in Edmonton, Alberta.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I approve this message and support your idea. I always found that my greatest problem with school was how it followed you home at the end of the day. It’s a lot of money for what you get. I mean, it’s almost like you are just paying for a certificate… depending what you want to learn I suppose. For instance I don’t imagine you can learn how to perform surgery very well without attending a program, much less get a job in the field of medicine without certification. However, you can attend lectures for free by just sitting in on one of those big lecture halls, and you can also learn most things these days from other resources… like books, and mentorship like you mentioned.

  • That pregnancy photo comment is priceless! Oh, and follow your heart and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Except your wife… ;)

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