The following post was inspired by a discussion thread in a blogger's group that I belong to. In the discussion, many views of college (pro and con, but mostly pro) were presented. These are just a few of my thoughts on the subject, from the point-of-view of a moderately "successful" college dropout...
I hate college. I wish that those three words were as simple as they sound, but the reality of the matter is that my feelings toward "higher education" in America run so much deeper, and manage to get my blood boiling when they're activated. I get angry when thinking about college, as I have major issues not only with college itself, but with businesses that require a degree, and with the people that keep the cycle spinning. College is a sham for the sheep - yet I want both of my daughters to attend. Internal conflict arises once more.
It can be argued that non-college graduates will be locked out of higher-paying jobs with greater benefits. I feel that people are only locked out because they've become complacent and simply accept that they've been shunned by the very people that embrace the corporate culture that fuels the big business that is the college system. We live in a society of lazy fucks that simply accept the mundane and keep moving along slowly while dragging their feet. This includes many of the folks (sheep) that make their way through the college system. The sheep keep moving, but at the same time - the sheep often have an easier life.
Those that choose to "go with the flow," or refuse to "go against the grain" can find themselves in a position of less stress, greater happiness, greater health and possibly wealth. Yes, the sheep can do well for themselves, until reality sets in and many of them realize that they've actually committed themselves to lives of slavery. They're slaves to a perfectly flawed system here in the United States, where their lives serve as currency to a college economy that continues to be fed by those in big business that require a meaningless piece of paper (degree) as a term of employment. Where some "succeed," many "fail" only to emerge from college strapped with nearly unpayable financial debts thanks to false promises of prosperity.
I know a lot of people that have graduated from college only to find themselves working low-paying gigs outside of their chosen field. At the same time, I know a lot of folks that simply lie about having a college degree (very easily done) and reap the rewards of high-paying jobs and great benefits. Sure, you could get caught doing the latter (like former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson), but it just proves how needless a college degree really is. If you can do the job, you don't need a piece of paper to vouch for it. There are very few circumstances in which I'd ever say that "it's ok to lie," but when it comes to a college degree - I'm all for it... with specialized fields such as medicine or law being exceptions.
Unless you're aiming for a career as a Doctor, Lawyer, or other highly technical field, college is not necessary to do the job. Certain technical or vocational schools could provide great education at a lesser cost, and in some cases I'd even advocate taking some college courses, with no emphasis on actually graduating. My biggest problem with college as a whole is the fact that certain people and companies "require" it. I live my life based on certain principles, some of which have hurt me here and there, but overall I'm a better person because of them. I'd rather broke and a good person than rich and scum.
We have a cyclical situation in which the sheep that funnel through the college system and into business keep the requirements in place that continue the cycle. We churn out "Stepford" people, that will sit there in their offices with a smug grin on their faces explaining to you "why" college is "important," "required," etc., but most of it is all rhetoric spewed to back-up their own journey. It's like punishing future generations just because you made a mistake. "I spent $100K and wasted X-number of years of my life, so now you have to as well."
When I was in high school (and for a short time, college) I always questioned internally the value in spending over 25% of your life in the educational system. We have the opportunity to provide fantastic education for kids K-12, yet there's constant breakdowns. Then, after getting through that, we expect kids to spend another 4+ years at a college or university. Being music-obsessed, I was always afraid that I'd become a member of the "27 Club" and end up dying after wasting nearly my entire life at school.
Fighting the good fight isn't an easy life, and that's a fact I know well.
I go against the grain on a lot of things. Conflict, stress, you name it - it all takes a toll. Had I been a sheep and just followed along with the flock, I might've become a happier, wealthier person, but certainly not a better one. The college/business culture also serves to hurt families by creating a workforce that continues our Nation's path - a path that has nearly destroyed the American Family by forcing both parents to work, while their children suffer - raised by everyone but their parents. Fortunately for my daughters, they have a parent at home with them (me), and have never been shipped off to daycare or put in the hands of a nanny. Hopefully, I will never have to return to a corporate job, but if I do - I will likely continue going against the grain as I did during my "corporate detour" years that ended nearly a decade ago. I used to make a conscious effort to hire qualified, non-college graduates. It was my way of quietly raising a middle finger to the system, while helping provide for some good folks that just happened to not have a meaningless piece of paper in their possession.
So why do I want both of my daughters to attend college?
I want my little girls to have an easier go at things than I have. I've been fighting wrongs and clashing with brainwashed robots my entire life, and I don't want them to have to fight. I don't want them to be sheep, either. I want them both to be wolves in sheep's clothing... to make their way through college knowing full well that they're doing it to "play the game," while being ready to devour the rest of the flock when the opportunity arises, seizing opportunities by being better... and being smarter than everyone else. I have roughly 14 years to teach them the ways of The Force. They can emerge with their expensive piece of paper, and "not having a degree" will be one less fight on their hands as they explore different career paths later in life.
As for me? I did well in school, later attending college majoring in "Communications Media." Financial Aid was not provided because my dad made too much money, and between hating the "requirement" of college, working a full-time job, performing in a band, and just not really liking the school I ended up in - I quit the week of finals at the end of my first year. I wasted a lot of my own money, when I just shouldn't have gone at all. I later took some film classes elsewhere after deciding it was a much better route to take some specific classes with no goal of graduation. The further exploration of subjects taken previously (basics: math, science, history, etc.) should be electives if the student is interested in them. I don't believe that any institution is "prestigious," nor do I believe degrees are "earned" - they're purchased in cash with time-wasting paperwork and assignments attached.
That said, we're already socking some money away to pay for our daughters' degrees when the time comes. I currently hold a Master's Degree in awesome, and a Doctorate in badass. Both were printed using the HP Photosmart printer in my office.
-- James Zahn, Ph.D
About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters - a newborn and a three-year-old - James Zahn is The Rock Father™.
Recent 2012 projects for James have included direction and editing on music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for FEAR FACTORY, DIRGE WITHIN, PRODUCT OF HATE, and others.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Kik Axe Music, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more.
Learn more here.
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