I actually took some general requirements at the local community college while I was working at the gas station and then went back to school at the state 4 year school I’d previously been attending full time, that while I was still working at the station. But the year I didn’t take classes was pretty much the only time I’d been ‘out of school’ since I was 4 and a half…
FWIW, I never matriculated — I called it the ‘Steinbeck plan’ (Steinbeck went to Stanford, I think, for 5 years, taking what he wanted, never graduating, and ended up with a Nobel Prize for literature).
But it wasn’t entirely free form; I was in a 4 year experimental interdisciplinary studies program that mostly got the gen grad requirements out of the way. It was a great program, in many ways, created in large part by the late August Coppola, brother of Francis Ford C (and father of ‘Little Nicky’ as we knew him around the department office). It wasn’t so much the general knowledge I acquired in those classes — as learning a multi-faceted approach to understanding specific subjects in the context of other subjects — and how they interrelate in human culture through history.
I took other survey/first-second year courses outside that program, but they were typically boring, so after the first semester or two, I concentrated on only taking upper division classes when possible. The height of my ability to talk my way into classes I wasn’t technically qualified to take was when I talked the head of the Psych department into letting me into the major-seniors-and-grad-students-only Cognitive Psychology class she taught — though I wasn’t a psych major nor had ever matriculated in any major. (Got an ‘A.’)
I had been taking writing courses out of the journalism department when I heard that the community college I’d taken classes at in my ‘hiatus’ from the uni had a then-pioneering commercial music production program (which closed down about a decade ago when the state mandated a certain percentage of professional uptake of students from vocational programs for funding, IIRC). In the middle of that, I got knocked out of school by a nasty motorcycle wreck but went back the next term on crutches, because, well… I was hooked.
[And, in fact, I did matriculate for that, but it was more to secure the now super-modest-seeming student loan that supported me after disability ran out. But I do have that certificate… somewhere. I’d already been freelancing for a while when I got it. Basically, I went to school to get my hands on the gear, learn and, a bit laughably, to record my old band — which I did, eventually — but it was after I’d dropped out of it.]
This may be the closest thing I have to a coherent bio on the web.