Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wasted Wednesdays -- Is College A Privilege?

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.
Just a 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 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.
college: an institution for vocational, technical, or professional instruction, as in medicine, pharmacy, agriculture, or music, often a part of a university.
learning: the act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill.
We will come back to these 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!
Which 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'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.
To 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 loose students.
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 interesting!

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