I've been in college for three years now and throughout these three years I've come to realize how corrupt the idea of college is. If you've grown up in America you've probably felt the pressures of college before. In America kids are expected to go to school and graduate and then go off to college to make a career for themselves. If you've grown up in America, you've probably been told at least once in your lifetime that school is a privilege. Some kids want to go to school so badly so don't complain! Remember Matilda? No, kids want to learn! Kids who don't go to school say they want to go to school because school is supposed to be a place to learn. In my three short years in college, I have come to find that school and learning are two very different subjects...especially when it comes to university.
side note, as stated above...I am a college student and I won't lie, I
like it. I chose to go to college after feeling I had no other choice
and didn't feel like job hunting just yet. I like to learn and read and
work with people who have the same interests as me. It can be fun. I
always leave each semester as a changed person for the better. But I
pose this question for you - is college truly a privilege? Is it a
privilege to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars just to learn?
Shouldn't everyone have a right to learn for free? On another
note, how can SAT scores measure our true intelligence? Does the B+ on
my history test mean I'm just an average student or does it mean history
just isn't my strong point? How can a test define me if I'm not a good
test taker? How come students have to pay thousands of dollars a
semester on dorm rooms and meal plans? There is the obvious answer
which is that the money students pay is paying for their food they eat
and the heat in their dorms and the hot water in their showers but then
their tuition goes toward new computers the university probably didn't
need just yet or the new building that some students won't even see open
before they graduate. The answer to all of these questions and a whole
lot more is, college is a business.
Let's go to www.dictionary.com and define these three words: business, college, and learning. The definitions are as follows:
business: the purchase and sale of goods in an attempt to make a profit.
an institution for vocational, technical, or professional instruction,
as in medicine, pharmacy, agriculture, or music, often a part of a
learning: the act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill.
will come back to these shortly...to start off, let me admit that I'm
apart of this system. Just above I stated that I felt pressured into
going to college. I didn't want to go but at 18 years old and afraid of
the real world, I gave into the society's pressures. I don't regret
going to college. I've learned a lot and know that I wouldn't be the
person I am today if I hadn't gone. I am apart of the system. My
parents dish out money for me to take all kinds of liberal arts classes
that own the name liberal since all the teachers have liberal opinions
and act as if their way is the only right way. I take all kinds of
classes from Geology to African Folklore Literature. While the
literature and English classes help me learn about writing and reading
and getting my brain waves flowing, the Gen-Eds don't! Which leads me
to my first point. Get rid of Gen-Eds!
College is supposed to be a focus on my
selected "career" path. High school was the time for general
education. College students are basically paying for wasted credits. I
can vouch for this point as I, and my friends, have had to take several
courses that don't seem to help with our major of study. For example, I
have a friend who is a nutrition major. One of the required courses
she must take is Chemistry. It isn't a Gen-Ed but it is apart of the
curriculum and she has to take it just like the Gen-Eds. The only way
she can earn a bachelor's degree in nutrition is if she passes Chemistry
and other courses along that line such as Organic Chemistry. Once the
semester ended, she told me that only one chapter of focus had
to do with nutrition. The rest of the class was useless. The same goes
for me when I had to take geology as a Gen-Ed for science. I'm an
English major and I am terrible at huge science tests yet I have to pass
the course to get my degree in English. Does that make sense? Why
does we have to pay for that? Some could respond saying that the course
is to help us become more well rounded. No, high school was the time
for kids to become well rounded. College is supposed to focus on a
specific topic of interest. Colleges, in essence, create courses that,
while useful to some, are not useful to all. They create a four year
program with all kinds of meaningless Gen-Eds and other required courses
that could easily take two years.
To contradict myself for a
second, as a college student I've found that even if a class was
useless, I stilled learned a little from each one. Could I have lived
without them? Yes. I could have definitely lived without making my
parents spend so much money on a kid who wasn't, and still isn't,
certain of what she wants to do with her life.
Which brings me to
my next point. 18 year old's shouldn't have to decide what they want to
do for the rest of their lives so quickly! 18 is a small number when
it seems that most adults discover what they want to do by the age of 30
(everyone is different so don't take my word that 30 is the average age
someone discovers their calling). So why the pressure? It's really
hard to balance life with deciding what you want to do for THE REST OF
YOUR LIFE! I write that in big letters because it is a HUGE deal! In
today's world, you are judged by if you have a college education or
not! That is how it works probably 75% of the time, the 25% being
athletes or celebrities...I quote Ellen DeGeneres, "I didn't go to
college at all...any college. I'm not saying you wasted your time or
money but look at me, I'm a huge celebrity."
Some students change
their majors and have to pay for new courses that goes with their new
major. Some students transfer from one college to another only to find
that half of their credits don't count toward their degree and have to
retake them now that they are at this new university. I'm now a senior
in college and I'm only just now discovering in full what I want to do
with my life but it's like trying to hold water in my hands. I
sometimes know what I want one day and the next day I feel differently.
Some people know what they want early on and that's great! Some people
know they want to go to college and that's great too!
brings me to my third and final point...people coming to college for the
wrong reasons. College is all about the experience whether you truly
want to go or not. But I'm going to be brutally honest with everyone - a
lot of kids only come to college for the drugs, alcohol, and parties.
At least 98% of students do these things even though it's not always
there full reason for coming to college. I'm speaking from
experience...it's hard to not hear people talking about parties and
alcohol and drugs. I meet people who seem like they would be smart
enough not to do that kind of stuff but they do it just like everyone
else. They conform to the norm of college. Doesn't Hollywood promote
that kind of stuff? They say college is for letting loose and
rebelling? People actually buy that crap? Sorry to sound so harsh
about it but I'm speaking the truth. People complain all the time about
their hangovers when there is a simple solution - don't drink! Problem
solved. Wow, I broke a sweat.
Colleges say they are against
these three things but I'm not sure if that's 100% true. From more
personal college experience, I can safely say that people I've
associated with at points in time during my college career have gone to
parties and seen police officers there who don't do anything about the
drugs and alcohol. They let it go! Let's be honest here though. If
colleges cracked down and police officers did their job, they'd only
have a quarter or less of their students left. They need these
students, so they do nothing. College is a business. Again, this is
not to say that some police officers don't arrest students. I know
plenty of students who have been kicked out of my university for
underage drinking. It happens. But the fact that partying is so
obvious and there is nothing done about it is just wrong.
conclude, let's come back to those three definitions of business,
college, and learning. While college does include learning (no doubts
there), it is indeed a business. It is around to make a profit. They
bring around high prices and complicated formats to make students and
their family spend thousands of dollars to earn a piece of paper that
says they are worth something. They make kids choose what they want to
do at a young age as if hoping they will change their minds and end up
spending more money because of it. They allow students to party because
it is apart of the experience and they would loose money when they
While college is a business, I'm not saying don't
go. I'm here and I've enjoyed it. I'm glad I've come because I
wouldn't be the person I am today without it. But if you don't want to
go to college, don't go. It's a hard decision to make. It takes a lot
of bravery not to go to college. In today's world, a degree is proving
to be less and less effective for getting a job. Success is not defined
by anyone but yourself! Do what you love and try not to get too mad at
people who keep telling you you're wrong. Always have a joyful heart.
If you want to learn but don't want to go to college, read books and
study art! Travel! I learn a whole lot about myself when I'm not
sitting in a classroom! Go to the public library for free! In
fact...don't even leave your house and just surf the web! The internet
gives you free reign to learn! You'll get more out of it if college
isn't for you!
A lot of my ideas in this blog are from my own
experiences. I've been wanting to blog about this for a long time and
was inspired to make it my Wasted Wednesday today from my favorite
youtubers, Blimey Cow, who made a video about college as well where they make a lot of the same points as I do. Check it out! Another great inspiration for this blog is a song by Relient K called College Kids! For further reading check out The Death and Life of the American School System.
I just bought this book and can't say I know if it's talking about
college or not since I haven't read it yet but it has to do with the
school system in America and, college or not, that should be
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
"What is life kept to ourselves? Careful words composed. It's a book upon the shelf, the story never told. Pages turn and then unfold to show us where we've been. As the signs along the road, to lead us home again." - Growing Pains, Deas VailFaith and books? God and Jodie Picoult? Jesus and Jane Austen? Has anyone ever thought about how important books are when it comes to learning and strengthening in faith? It isn't a very prominent topic that seems to be blogged about...in fact I've never seen anyone blog about this, but for the past few weeks I have come across this idea that there is a reason why I feel such a connection to my faith when I read books.
To start off this blog, I decided to make a ven diagram comparing faith and books (below). In the diagram, I wrote down my thoughts as well as thoughts others might add. I put question marks at certain points that I feel could be elaborated on but won't be elaborated on during this blog.
In Faith's section I have listed - the bible (where all guidance can be found as well as a connection with God), a way of life, Non-Fiction (referring to the bible), Church (something that goes along with faith but doesn't define one as a good Christian), Seriousness (we Christian's know how to make the Gospel fun while also focusing on it's serious message), God's word, and rules (religion has rules...but we aren't talking about religion now, are we?). For books I listed - literature (though the bible could be argued to be literature which I believe it is), school (since we read a lot of novels for English class), fun (not all people like to read), recreation, Fiction, written by regular people, and sin (yes, lots of novels consist of events that involve with sin but the same can also be said about the bible since the bible started with Adam and Eve). As I look at this list I see that while on the surface these things seem different they are actually quite similar. After all, books can be serious and the bible can be fun. The bible can be read in (certain) schools just like literature. And the holy bible contains many stories featuring sin just like in most novels. The biggest difference I see here is God's word vs. written by regular people. After all, how can the mere words we humans write compare to the words sent down by God?
Now, let's look at the similarities I wanted to talk about. I made them straight and simple. The first - LESSONS! Boy do books teach us lessons (except Twilight...and no, neither does Fifty Shades of Grey!). I truly believe with all of my heart that God uses us as tools to help spread love around the world and He often times uses random things to help us see not with our eyes but with faith in Him. To back up this statement, I have chosen three of my favorite books to talk about and discuss how they have helped me on my journey in faith. I have also come across a blog written by a man named Jefferson Bethke, who is one of my favorite poets, titled "Why cooking meals is just as Christian as praying". In this blog, Jeff uses a very important verse from the bible.
It says "all the glory"...not partial glory, all. God truly does work in mysterious ways and He most certainly works through books to reach people these days. The problem is, people only read on the surface. They read the words on the page but don't sit down and let them soak through their skins until the story feels like it truly happened to them.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” - 1st Corinthians 10:31
I look for faith in every piece of literature I pick up. It is a habit. I always wonder what a character's spiritual background is and what their beliefs are in the present day story. One of my favorite books, The Lovely Bones, holds many truths about faith. I think the most important aspect that I learned was letting go. In the story, Susie is raped and murderer by a neighbor and journey's to the in between, watching life go on without her in it. By the end of the story, we see Susie finally letting go of life on earth and going to heaven where she is happier. This can be compared to claiming Jesus as your savior and not your religion. When we let go of all our earthly possessions and "needs" and accept Jesus as all that we need, we are happier just like Susie let go of life and found happiness in heaven.
In another one of my favorite books, My Sister lives on the Mantelpiece, the main character's sister is killed in a terrorist attack and his family falls apart because of it. Jamie (the main character) soon meets a girl named Sunya who is Muslim just like the terrorists who killed his sister. Jamie's father has always told him that Muslim's are evil but Sunya is quite the opposite and Jamie must make sense of the situation - that Sunya can't be blamed for his sister's death just because she is a Muslim. This idea speaks many truths to Christians. A lot of Christians shun people who are different, whether is be because of their skin color or because of stereotypes or because a couple had sex before marriage. It's obvious that the church and religion has frightened people away while Jesus is waiting there with open arms. After all, and I quote Jeff Bethke,
"[Church is] not a museum for good people, it's a hospital for the broken".While this quote doesn't qualify for all cases, it certainly helps put things into perspective. We as Christians shouldn't shun people because they are different. We should show people that we love and aren't full of hatred. Just because someone shares different beliefs doesn't mean they are a bad person.
I have a friend who had a bad experience with relationships and because of this, she blames every guy for her problems. If a guy does something stupid, she says it's because of his sex. This is a stereotype - for you can't judge all guys by the mistakes that a few guys made. This goes for every person that is alive and breathing on this planet. Jesus never judged, He loved. That's all. This book truly teaches us to accept one another like Jesus did.
The last example I am going to use is Harry Potter. I know, seems strange mixing HP with faith...well actually, not to me it isn't. You see, Harry Potter has always taught me a lot about my faith. Growing up, I was told by the media that church's hate Harry Potter. In a documentary called Jesus Camp the campers yell hatred at the Harry Potter books because it is about warlocks. Notice my wording in the last sentence though - hatred. Is there really any room for hate in church? Harry Potter taught me more about my faith than going to CCD every Wednesday night (it's a Catholic thing). To start easy, one connection I always saw between HP and faith was how much Harry resembled Jesus and Dumbledore resembled God in their actions. Of course, neither of these characters are perfect like God and Jesus but they do possess qualities that reflect those in the bible very strongly. Harry gives up his life and rises from the dead! He saves the wizarding world because of love. He also holds unmoving faith in Dumbledore and has patience to follow Dumbledore's orders even when he doesn't understand them fully. Isn't that how God works with us? We don't always understand where He is leading us but it all becomes clear when we trust Him. These books also have a very important message - that we always have a choice. While our choices don't permanently define us, they do show what was important to us on earth and our choices do matter to God (even though he loves us no matter what). One of my favorite quotes from the series is said by Dumbledore,
"It is not our abilities that show what we truly are, it is our choices."That was a lot of analyzing! Just like we sit down and do our bible study, we can also sit down and do a literature study about finding God in the stories we love the most. He reveals himself in the most awesome ways! One thing I've noticed when it comes to faith is that it is sort of like a puzzle and every event in my life is like a piece. The more experience I hold, the more life makes sense and my puzzle progresses. Whether I go to church or am doing bible study, the themes I learn about always seem to apply to my life and have a clear message. The same goes for books. Books contain a message toward us that can apply to our lives and only can we see these messages by studying literature and the bible. This is why lessons are a huge similarity when it comes to faith and books.
The next similarity goes along with lessons. Both faith and books have symbolism! I think, for me, that is what appeals to me so much about the two. This symbolism I can learn and comprehend and use it not only to relate to my own life but learn more about myself and the people around me. Above, when I discussed some of my favorite novels, shows perfect examples of symbolism! How awesome is that?! To give an example of symbolism in the bible, just look at the story of Jesus carrying the cross. The cross symbolizes our sin that He carries on his back. When He rises from the dead, He is saying that our sins do not define us! Grace frees us and our spirits will live after death all because Jesus died for our sins! Wow! That is some incredible symbolism! The only different between that story and the ones I talked about above is that Jesus was real while the novels aren't...literally speaking.
Another similarity that I don't really agree with is that faith and books are boring. I'm not going to take this one too far since I don't believe it but let's face it, a lot of people DO believe this and it's a bit disheartening. Why do bible study when you can watch a whole marathon of the Vampire Diaries? Why do bible study when you can go to the church carnival with your buddies? Why do bible study when you can text your friend? Why read a book when I can easily watch the movie? Today's world holds so many distractions. No one sits down in quiet anymore. TV's always need to be on to sleep and people can't seem to walk anywhere without their headphones on. They drain out the world around them instead of listening to silence. In essence, no one seems to truly THINK much anymore (see my previous Wasted Wednesday blog). Fast paced life appeals to them because that is what Hollywood and the universe has told them is the way to live. So yes, boring is a similarity between faith and books but it is only because people are too dumb to try and better themselves. We live in a world where we love to worship ourselves!
The next similarity I have written down is one I must explain - our own. There was a quote I once read that says that there is some of us in everything we encounter. The way I interpret this is that everything that enters our lives changes us and we are never the same person we were a minute before. It only takes a second for us to learn a new habit. For example, one day my cat was acting up and went to bite my ankles. I tried to dodge her but instead slammed my face onto the railing. It took that moment to teach me to always walk backwards if my cat was in biting mode! I came out of the situation a slightly different person than I was before. This same thing goes for faith and novels. When we finish a book we are a changed person just as much as we are a changed person when we leave church on Sunday. As humans, we take our experiences and knowledge and absorb new information and apply it to our lives. When we apply these things to our lives, they teach us things. I guess this point goes along with lessons so I am sort of repeating myself...novels and faith both tell incredible stories that teach us things and we are always changing for the better after we encounter them. It is important to read novels with the knowledge of faith to apply concepts of faith toward the novel you just read (re-read that sentence a few times before going on...let it settle in your brain because even I find it complex and I'm the one who typed it, haha). Of course, it isn't just faith and novels that change us. Everything changes us! But looking at things for the sake of making a point in this blog, it works.
And finally, the last similarity that applies essentially to myself...a way of life! Obviously I love to read...my blog is all about reading. I've grown up reading. Books were always on my shelf and when I finished one, I moved on to another one. There was always a book in my backpack with me during school in case I got bored. I always read before bed and still do. I literally can not imagine a world where there were no PHYSICAL (pun to the stupid kindle) books to read! What would my life be like without all these stories? All these stories make up for my lack of personal experience in life. As George R. R. Martin says,
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”These stories taught me how to stand up for what is right and they have helped me dive deep into myself and I have discovered many small things about my life that have shaped who I am today. But most of all, they have taught me about faith. I remember when I was only 15 at church camp and the pastor was talking about a song I knew and how it related to the bible and faith and everyday life and he talked about symbolism and I was so mesmerized by his sermon because it rung so true...it seemed that art and faith went hand in hand. I talked about books in this blog but I believe art in general has the power to connect with faith as well (film, music, theatre, video games, etc.).
To conclude this blog, I find that faith and books go hand in hand because both are complex and thought provoking. Both are a way of life because books teach us about faith and life while faith influences what we read and how we interpret what we read. It is a circle. I will end this blog with a quote...
“It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.”
― Oscar Wilde
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Holes was one of those books like Harry Potter when I grew up…you only read it because everybody else was. Me being me, I was skeptical and didn't pick it up but my 4th grade teacher read it to us. I don't remember liking it much. I don't remember if I even knew the basic plot of the story. I must have daydreamed a lot! The movie came out when I was 12 and I saw it in the theater but it wasn't until a few years ago that I began to appreciate the literary magic that lived inside the pages. Since I haven't read it since 4th grade, I figured now was the perfect time to read it again. And of course, I loved it – as I love most of the books I read as a child.
The plotline of Holes is anything but basic. It is a complex storyline that goes from the present to the past, connecting the story of Stanley's great great grandfather, who broke a promise to a wise woman who cursed his family because of it, to why Stanley's family has such bad luck ever since. The story also focuses on a side story about the camp Stanley resides at for most of the novel, Camp Green Lake, and how it used to be a town before the lake dried up. In the beginning, Stanley is falsely accused of robbing a famous baseball players shoes and is sent to Camp Green Lake to dig holes and build character. "If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy." At Camp Green Lake, Stanley befriends Hector (a.k.a Zero) and goes on a journey toward his destiny by, essentially, doing the right thing even when times get hard.
Holes is a very poignant representation of human character and spirit. The emotions are raw and heartbreaking and you can feel Stanley's pain through the pages and you can relate to all of the character's that somehow affected his life whether he knew about it or not. Like most books, the events are all pieces of a puzzle that comes together beautifully at the end and really hits home the saying, "the night is darkest just before the dawn". If I had anything bad to say about the story, I'd say Kissing Kate Barlow was a very cheesy character. I'm not saying I didn't like her story or her part in the novel, but I found it cheesy that because of her circumstances she just went insane.
I give Holes a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Friday, August 10, 2012
I know to some it seems a bit silly and childish for me to have read two Disney princess chapter books but I found the experience to be one not only of enjoyment but learning as well. That is what I love about reading. I love to learn about things and reading helps me realize. The Disney Princess chapter books take our favorite Disney Princesses and create fun and exciting tales for them that stays true to their films and their character.
I give them 5 out of 5 stars! They were both fun reads!
I give them 5 out of 5 stars! They were both fun reads!
Thursday, August 9, 2012
I am currently reading, along with the many other books I'm reading, a book called Coffeehouse Theology that discusses faith in our modern day society and how to balance the two. I brought the book into work to read on my break and my friend asked me a very interesting question. She asked, "does it make you think?". It was an odd question to me and one I've certainly never been asked before. I answered yes because the book does make you think. But the truth it, I've been thinking about the topics in the book long before I even picked it up off the shelf. When I returned to my work, I kept fixating on this question of her's in my head. Does it make you think? Well, I picked the book up because it is something I think about a lot. I pick up a lot of books because their titles make me think and most of them are fiction. I buy and rent books from the library because their summaries make me think and I set them on my bookshelf and call them favorites because they made me think. Each book on my shelf has a story that doesn't consist inside the pages. That was when it occurred to me - every single book I read makes me think! Thinking is all I ever do!
From the moment I was born I was told to think. When asked in one of my course's this summer about a strong memory of a piece of advice my grandparents gave me, the first thing that popped into my head was think. My grandmother has been saying it forever - literally. Or at least, my forever. I can remember her saying it ever since I learned how to form sentences. And I would think. I would think during church and during class time. I would think at work and in my room while alone. I would think as I watched students pass by me in the hallways of my high school and I would wonder how it was possible that they too had a life that was completely separate from my own. There are so many people in the world. Even Winnie the Pooh emphasizes thinking when he sits down outside his house and tells himself to think, think, think. Think before you follow the crowd. Think before you buy that outfit. Think about how your choices will impact the people around you besides yourself. Think before you let a boy become more than just a friend. Think before you speak.
As a teenager, I was never apart of a click or a club. I had friends that were all very diverse. I was an observer, not a follower and I learned to truly think before everything I do. Because I thought so much, I thought a lot about the themes in the books I read and what they teach us. After all, they teach you to think about these things in English class, right? Thinking came naturally. And it is sort of mind boggling to me that some people don't think at all. Some people just accept. They just do. They don't think. They get home and watch TV because it's there instead of exercising their minds. They act out of instinct instead of thinking things through. We see it all of the time. Men and women hooking up out of vulnerability and finding themselves with a child...people shooting one another out of anger.
It just makes me wonder, what would this world be like if people thought their actions through before going through said action. What if people thought about the things they watched on TV? Maybe Jersey Shore would have gone off the air before a second season was ever announced and maybe Katy Perry wouldn't have sold another album. Just something to think about....