The Educated Ignorant

After graduating as the best academic (and sporting) student from high school in the year 2000, I thought I had arrived and the world was my playing ground. I smashed my SAT exam with a high score of 1200 (on the old scale) and had gotten admission to 6 universities in the US with thousands of dollars being offered to me in both academic and sporting scholarships. The feeling lasted for just about 3 months until I was denied an American Visa on the grounds that (1) I was too young and (2) I had no family in the USA. With lost hope of heading to the land of the free, I had to settle for other options.

My primary purpose of traveling to South Africa in 2001 now becomes clear. In 2003, I was finally offered a place at the University of Pretoria for a degree in Computer Science, and it seemed as though I was on top of the world yet again.

Fast-forward 3 years and that feeling had changed completely, I was at an all time low (academically). I felt lost in my own world, the very thing that gave me joy had become my deepest regret. I had made a wrong career choice – engineering was not my thing.


Education to me became like chemotherapy to a cancer patient: you hate it but you need it to survive – only in my case, there was a foreseeable end. I went into survival mode and was not pursuing education anymore but survival. I did everything I had to do to “pass” – the concept of education was now obsolete to me. High on caffeine, I hustled late hours in the library, prototyped assignments, sold my soul for memorandums just so I could get a pass and get it over with. Yet still, I learned that I in order to achieve my goal of being a graduate, I had to be disciplined – I had to realize that regardless of education I had to be religious to my routines. of waking up early, sleeping late, eating on the go, communicating and socializing with folks, submitting assignments on time, attending lectures, presenting projects…etc


As I walked on stage to accept my graduation certificate (many years later), I realized that the main lessons I committed to memory from my time in University were not academic but life-oriented ones.



  1. Kabelo wrote:

    Great article Lawrence! Congratulations are in order :-)

  2. Bianca wrote:

    That is very true. I had the same experience in university. I also got to that low point where I was studying what I didn’t want to but just did what I had to to pass and get my degree, because, hey, ‘degree’ sounds better than ‘high school level’. But being in that environment, I learnt a lot of other things besides what I actually studied for. University was a great phase in my life that helped me into adulthood. I learned to be responsible for myself above all.