What was your characters’ education like? It is an aspect of your characters that you should know since education will be a deciding factor on what jobs your characters can have, their world views and how easily they can navigate through life.
Ask yourself what type of students your characters were. Did they engage in their education or shrink in their desk hoping the teacher would not call on them. Or perhaps they had a nontraditional learning experience, being home-schooled or born in a period of time when public schools, as we know them, did not exist. If they are from a different time period or world, it might be that rather than schooling, the young focus more on learning trades — some might never learn to read or write.
Other questions to ask when it comes to education include: What were your characters favorite subjects, their least favorite? Did they have any learning disabilities that made their education difficult? Was there a teacher that particularly impacted their life, that really helped shape who they are? Did external factors, like their home life, affect their education or lack of education? Did they leave early without completing their education? Was there a time they were a good student? How long did they study a skill or trade? What were the different levels of education they’ve completed?
Once you know a character’s level of education, you can begin to ascertain career or job paths that are open to them. You will know if they can become the police officer you envision them as or the teacher you want them to be. Or writers can research professionals or period trades to determine what education would be required to fit the job: Think how this tailored education might have affected your character’s life. If their education was very time consuming, they may not have had much time for friends or special activities. In period pieces, your character may even be required to leave family to pursue a particular trade.
Similarly, you will know that a character’s lack of formal training or education will place limitations on what they can do. Take time to reflect on all the challenges that will face a character who has no or very little education, especially if said character never learned to read or write.
Finally, consider educational bonuses or advantages your characters have received. Do you have a character that is multilingual? Have they specialized in certain fields or trades? Such little things might come in handy at some point during your story.