Thursday, February 26, 2009

Top 5 Reasons Not To Go To College

So time for my second top 5 blog. Sorry that this one is a week late. I just moved last weekend and didn't have internet until Tuesday. I also was super exhausted and really only wanted to sleep. Now I'm going to pull an all nighter and make sure that this actually gets out there.

Thanks for all the feed back that I received through comments and emails. I hope that my next topic will inspire more conversation about the educational system, and of course your own top 5.
So first off let me offer a disclaimer. For every 5 reasons not to go to college I'm sure that there's 100 good reasons to go. My four years of college were by far the best years of my life. I learned more about myself and accomplished everything that I'm proud of from NW Punks to my internship at Dark Horse. I loved everything I learned and wouldn't trade my degree for anything.

I currently work as an admissions advisor for a college. Although I don't appreciate the pressure I do feel good about helping people better themselves and setting them on a path that will more likely help them succeed. It really does feel great when someone thanks you for taking the time to help them complete their goals. With that being said there are some pretty fucked up things about education right now. They all don't fall under the category of school, but really with the expectations of society with the kinds of students that it wants produced. Some of the things listed might be exclusive to my generation, but I feel that they're still relevant to the main problem. So here we go.

5. Cost

Lets get this bitch out of the way first. School is fraking expensive. Even less expensive schools can still be impossible for someone to pay for out of pocket. The only real way for someone to go to school is to either go part time which can drag the length of your program to over 8 years, or you need to take out loans.
"What about scholarships or grants," you say? We live in a time where more people are going to go school then ever before. Grants and scholarships are hard to get even if you have immaculate grades. Your best chance of getting funding is to get subsidized loans that are also getting harder to come by. Every loan I got for school was unsubsidized and my mother and step-father have a low-middle class income. This leads me to my point.
Student loans are a scam to put you in debt with lenders so you have to pay out to them with interest over a 10-15 year plan. You can't get a grant or a scholarship but you can sure as fuck get a loan. I wouldn't be surprised if that is part of the reason that school tuition inflates so quickly. Schools can charge more because students can take out loans to cover the cost. This might sound more like a conspiracy theory but you'd have to be naive to believe that someone's not going to try to make a lot of money out of this. I went to a pretty cheap school and I'm still $30,000 in debt. Now the question is it really worth it?
4. Outcomes

Are you more likely going to get a higher paying job if you go to college? I believe so. Are you going to eventually receive a return on your investment? Sure, I can go with that. Or can I? I've been a graduate for almost 3 years now. Every job I've had since I've been out of school has definitely shown an increase in salary, but is the job better? Hell no. I've been pretty miserable with every job I've had. I never had any aspirations of making a lot of money in life, just finding a job I could actually enjoy. The only jobs that seem to be in demand are either retail/sales or something else that is completely uninteresting to me. I went to college to be what I wanted to be, not just get a better paying shitty job.
I really don't think I'm the only one here. I haven't really talked to many people in my generation that have college degrees that are happy with where they're at or the path that they're on. In fact I've found that people without degrees tend to be happier doing what they're doing. Now I know that this is a combination of a lot of things. Bad economy, degree choice, geographic location, etc. But the truth is that things have been on a steady decline, and the idea of being able to find that dream job with just a bachelors degree is basically gone. I wouldn't be surprised if a masters degree will be sub par in the near future as well. If I continue to work in retail/sales it's going to have to be what I'm stuck with for the rest of my life because I won't have work experience in other areas. Entry level jobs even look for people with experience and a degree. The only way to break the cycle is to take out more loans to go back to school. More debt. With all these lending crisis' going on I feel like a bank is just about as bad cancer from a social stand point.
In a philosophy class we had a discussion about the social responsibility of universities. Is school about creating educated and rounded individuals, or is it about job training? Are we going to school just so we can get a great job like I mentioned above, or are we going for a love of learning? I'm sure that the love of learning plays a part but I don't think it's not the main motivation in people's minds. I don't really have a point here, I think it's just sad.
3. Selling a social, enlightening experience

Diversity. I'm sure all us educated folk have heard that word thrown around a few times when it comes to college. What does it mean? From my college experience it means one thing. You're only smart and unique if you're ultra liberal. Is there anything wrong with liberals? No. The fact is that a strong majority of college students are democrats. I'm a communication major so I'm going to talk a bit about what happens when a whole bunch of like minded individuals get together. The minority view point becomes less likely and afraid to express themselves because of fear of being segregated against. You also run into the problem of group think. This is when a group of like minded people can over look issues or view points which leads to making huge mistakes in decision making. It's not always malicious, in fact most times it's probably unintentional. I'm sure that things like the Bush administration were victim to something like this.
The point is, as far as my college experience went, I didn't really feel like I was experiencing much in the way of diversity. A whole bunch of white democrats who all seemed to be ashamed of being white because a couple rich, wig wearing asshole thought it would be cool to be a douche bag a few hundred years ago. I just wish more people could see through color and see that everyone's an asshole. I took a few intercultural communication courses and was surprised to see that the only black person in the room was the instructor and very rarely did I see someone from another country. These were classes all about diversity and it was just a bunch of white people who voted for John Kerry.
Now I admit, I live in Portland and went to Portland State University. This is one of the most liberal cities in the country so I'm bound to be surrounded by similar people, but the fact is that most universities in the country see a democrat majority. I'm neither a republican or a democrat. I lean towards the liberal side so it's not like I felt left out (get it, left out), but I wish that I could have been in a place that did explore other view points so a real discussion about policy could be explored. The truth is I didn't start experiencing real diversity until my current job. Not just through my fellow co workers, but with the people all through the country who all have different backgrounds and motivations to go to school.
2. Activists

This doesn't so much have to do with college, but with the annoying vultures that prey on impressionable youth. I fucking hate them. On my first day at PSU I was walking across the park to get to my class and was approached by 4 different groups in one minute. I specifically remember one guy saying, "You should drop out of school and become a political revolutionist." I get a few feet away and I hear him say it again to someone else. It had to be the worst sales pitch ever. I've never felt so harassed or judged in my entire life then during activist season. Did you know that everything you do or believe is wrong? Walk down the park on a sunny day and they'll tell you all about it. There's really no point to this, I just fucking hate activists.
I feel like being Tyler Durden when I see these fucks. I just want to do the exact opposite of whatever they're trying to sell. And lets be real, they're selling something. I was talking to one guy who told me he was getting $15 an hour just to collect signatures. He told me he thought the petition he was trying to get signatures for was pretty stupid. Honestly, that's a pretty sweet gig for that kind of money. I really am starting to feel that altruism is dead.
I think the funniest protest I saw was when a bunch of activists were trying to ban military recruiters for doing exactly what they were doing. I find it funny because the military is the only group offering education and a real salary in return for protecting the ungrateful mental midgets protesting them. Seriously, the war sucks and it's complete bullshit, but these people are willing to die for your right to bitch at them. Show some respect and say thank you the next time you see someone who is serving or has served. I'm pretty sure their job sucks more then mine.
1. There's got to be something better to do with your time and money.

My number one reason for not going to college is that I found two loves that I've been forced to abandon because I need to work to pay back all my debt from going to school. Now I'm not saying I can't ever go back to these things, it's just so freaking hard to find the time and energy.

My experience planning rock shows and working in the community through NW Punks was awesome. Matt, Bucky, Julie, Jordan and myself earned respect in a community that basically hates kids and we did some real good. We sponsored a child, ran toy and food drives, put on free concerts at the convention center for kids, raised money for many different causes, sent a couple kids to summer camp, all while putting on some kick ass shows. We had fun and got to make a difference. Matt and I seriously considered kicking it up to the next step. I could be content doing that for the rest of my life if there was any real way to make a living off it. There's just not enough time in the day to take care of work and still try to put a real effort into NW Punks. I really wish I could afford to make less money. If I win the lottery, that's one thing that I'm going to make happen again.
The other love is of course comics. Comics are the whole reason I went to college. I saw the chance to educate myself in writing and editing so I could get into comics and become the next Brian Michael Bendis. Now college gave me the chance to actually taste the dream through my internship with Dark Horse, but I can't help but feel that the pressures of getting a stable job that I hate to pay the bills has sapped a lot of my energy and creativity.
The money invested in a college education could have been invested in a home or business and could possibly have seen an even greater return with me having even more freedom to explore what I really want to do. Granted the economy sucks right now, but part of me feels like I could have done better if someone just gave me $45,000 and told me to go be somebody.
Now I'll be the first to say that it sounds like I'm making excuses for mediocrity. I am. That's the whole point of these blogs is to try to revitalize that energy and move forward to something better. The truth is that everything I've listed on this top 5 needs to have some personal responsibility claimed for them. We're all products of what we do and don't do and if I'm hating something then I need to grow a spine and make a difference. I think that the college system still does possess these annoying flaws and I wish the system would change (and I honestly think it will).
Now in my position as an admissions advisor I'm able to speak to a whole assortment of people with many backgrounds. Sure, I feel most of them have an IQ lower then my show size, but at least they're trying to better themselves. Can I even say that about myself most of the time? I would like to think so, but the truth is I don't nearly as much as I should. School is great if you want to learn or improve your chances of success (however marginal that improvement seems at times). Like I said, the best years of my life happened while in college, but only because I tried everything I wanted to do. A lot of what I accomplished I could have done without school, I just happened to be in a head space where I felt alive and ready to embrace every situation.
So my challenge to everyone is to become more of an autodidact. Teach yourself something new. You don't school to do it, just motivation and the internet. Think of something that's always interested you and spend some time researching it. It's a hell of a lot cheaper and you'll feel better about yourself.

So what do you think? What's your top 5?


1 comment:

  1. I really like that last little cartoon. While I don't necessarily feel that way it's still funny and cute.