Thursday, August 04, 2005

stupid education

the way we go about getting people from childhood to adulthood in this country is completely and totally wrong. how you gon ask a 15-16 year old kid if they wanna go to take the college prep courses and go to college? they don't know. and even if they think they know, they probably don't know the pros and cons of going to college. then you gon tell this same kid somewhere around 16, 17, 18 to "here, take this SAT test, and if you do well you can go to college, and if you don't, well, good luck in the army or trade school or mcdonald's." like there's something wrong with the army or trade school or mcdonald's. i mean, that's debatable but still, it's like, "go to college, or you suck. you suck now, you gon suck later, your job is gon suck, your life is gon suck." whatever, i'll get to how i feel about that statement later. first, let's deal with the sucka - uh, my bad - the kid who buys into this "go to college, have a career" bit.

congratulations - you da man, wo-man, whatever. yay college. now i won't say that college is bad, far from it. i went. and being away from home, gaining independence, working for rent, making friends in a completely new place - that was truly invaluable to me. i even learned how to teach myself things on a level that i hadn't before. learned how to express myself better, form and defend my own informed opinions, learned about other types of people, learned ways to view the world around me... i can go on and on about what i got out of college. but what's more important is what i didn't get out of college. see, i went thinking that i would go to college, get training for a career, come out of college and DO the damn thang. that's the racket. that's what they have you thinking. in the immortal words of eddie murphy, going to college is supposed to get you something that is "betta dan mc-don-oh's!"

well think about it this way. we send 18 year olds to college. tell them to pick a major to study. that's supposed to be the thing that gets you a job after school. so you pick a major. you study it. well, maybe even a couple majors. you know, people act like if you have a few major switches in college, you're a flake. i disagree (and not because i'm biased - i had the same major from freshman year on). i think those people are geniuses! or at least geniuses in the making. because at least they realize before senior year that they don't know what the hell they wanna do with themselves. at least they have a clue that it is ridiculous to tell someone who this country doesn't even think is mature enough to handle a drink that they they're supposed to declare what they would like to do with themselves for, theoretically, the rest of their lives. getouttahere with that!

this is why we got so many college graduates moving back in with their mamanem. or going abroad to "find themselves." or (these are the worst) hanging around the fill-in-the-blank department of their college working on theses that they will never finish and never defend. not because their research ain't on to something. but because these poor souls claim they have a passion for fill-in-the-blank study when they really just don't know what else to do with themselves and they can't make any money with a fill-in-the-blank degree anywhere so they scared to leave school. if you went to college, you know these people. they are the teaching assistants in their late thirties who are grading your papers and who are pissed that they still don't have a phD in fill-in-the-blank and that they still live in the same roach motel flat they were in half their lifetime ago, so they are rather liberal with the red pen and have the nerve to catch an attitude when you don't take fill-in-the-blank seriously, since it ain't your major.

anyway i say all this to say that college is a way to basically take four years to find out that college is not about finding your career or figuring out what you wanna do. not one college graduate i know really is sure about what they wanna do or is doing what would truly make them happy. not one. but every single one of them is in some kind of debt. behind either the student loans or the credit cards they applied for to get a clean t-shirt cause their laundry happened to be backed up that day and they didn't feel like breaking change for quarters.

a college degree is a very expensive piece of paper that makes white people take me a little more seriously despite my youthful appearance and my color and gender. i'm employed because of it. but it's still overrated. just like mama's sandwich that was supposed to be "betta dan mc-don-oh's."

which brings me to the army/trade school/mcdonald's folks. who may have had to struggle a little bit more in the beginning than the college suckas. who may have incomes that on average, grow slower and with a more limited potential than the incomes of the college suckas. but they don't suck. they don't have inferior intelligence. many of them have very nice homes and/or cars - a perk of starting full time employment earlier than the college suckas. many of them have lives that don't suck. and from having spent time in "the real world" and having time to mature before going to college, when and if they do decide to go to college, they will probably make a better choice of major at 25 or 30 or better yet 35 than the 19 or 20 year old college sucka made. question - does it really matter if someone gets a job out of school and is living with his mama to make ends meet, when if he decides to go to college, he's just gonna wind up back in that same bedroom four years later anyway? of course it depends on the situation, but that's a valid question.

i ain't saying that i wish i'd done things differently. i am saying that there are various paths to career fulfillment. i'm saying we need to stop painting the wrong picture for these high school kids, and while we're at it, can we teach them stuff they can really use? like the difference between a fixed or variable interest rate? the utility of renter's insurance? the variety of career paths they can take so that not everyone wants to be a pediatrician, teacher, or lawyer? you know, useful stuff?

just a suggestion.