The landscape is college. By this time it is pretty well assumed that a student exiting highschool will immediately enrol in a college. What for, no one always knows. They just do it because that is what is expected of them. When I was in grade school, for some time I operated under the misconception that school was instituted to help you learn. Of course, that is wrong. School is all about getting good grades; college is all about getting a degree so that you can get a job. To a large extent this truth is sad but unavoidable. But people don’t like you pointing out this sad truth, neither do they like you pointing out the fallacy of going to college “because everyone does.” Quite apart from being a blind move on a student’s part, it is an unjustifiable waste of money! So, first off: if you are going to college, know why before you go. Don’t waste your time nor someone else’s money. College is not mandatory.
Yes, I just said it. College is not mandatory. For a lot of jobs that otherwise inconsequential slip of paper that says you graduated college is necessary. I don’t know why. I suppose it gives some credence to your claims that you actually learned something in those four years that you were institutionalized… If you need it, by all means, get it. My sister is considering getting a degree so that, if she at some point feels inclined to write biographies and histories, she will have that educational weight behind her name. My sister-in-law and I, on the other hand, have no such need, neither did either of us go to college. My sister-in-law is a highly intelligent woman, juggling a home with a husband and two kids (she’s a brilliant cook, too) and a demanding role in the family company. She never needed to go to college; in fact, she tells the story of my father telling her point-blank, “You don’t have to go to college,” and that moment being one of the most freeing moments of her life. She is amazing, she continues to learn, she is articulate and educated. And she never went to college.
I am poorly suited to the institution. I do not like being cramped or forced to swallow indigestible material. It only makes me angry and people do not like it when I get angry. I much prefer a free-range style of education which, having graduated highschool, I am capable of pursuing. I was once asked what I study by one of my husband’s professors, and with my tongue unusually in my cheek I said I wasn’t enrolled in any institution and I am now free to study whatever I like without paying money to anyone.
Let me be clear: I am not saying that college is evil. (Actually, I know for certain that college is evil, but what can you do…?) It is not mandatory that you go, neither is it mandatory that you not go. But keep your options open and know what you are capable of handling. College is there as a means to an end and was never meant to be a stagnant pool of purposeless “adolescents” looking for the best means to get a job and earn money. Do not let the religion of college pull you into its cult. It is a grim, unloving god anyway and does not often give you back what you deserve.
Jennifer Freitag writes fantasy and historical fiction from her home in South Carolina, where she lives with her husband and two cats. To learn more about her views, what she is doing, and what inspires her, check out her blog: thepenslayer.blogspot.com.
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