The College Question

Should I go to college?

It’s an important question. One that is asked of you when you start high school. Because that’s the goal of high school, to get you good enough grades and to score high enough on all you AP and SAT tests so that you can get into a prestigious college. The more well-known the college, the better, because once you get your college diploma, you are more likely to get a good job.

But what if you don’t have the necessary scores to get into one of these “famous” colleges?

It’s okay.

The best advice I can give anyone is to find a place that you fit in.

Don’t go to a school just because your parents went there or want you to go there. It may not be the school for you.

Don’t go to a school just because your boyfriend/girlfriend is going there. There’s a chance you could break up and then you are stuck somewhere that you may not have wanted to be at in the first place.

Don’t go to a school just because it has a good track record.

I was at a college that I thought was a good fit, but it wasn’t. I was miserable. The best thing I ever did was leave. And then I ended up at a school that really offered me what I was looking for.

When you go and start visiting colleges, see if they offer an overnight program. That is probably one of the best ways to really gauge a university. A tour of the campus is nice, but they usually only show you the nicer aspects of the school. They want you to see the sparkle and glamor, and shove some of the other aspects under the rug. It’s just the way it is. Hang out with some of the people that go to the school. That is a huge indicator of if you will fit in. I didn’t do this and that was one of the big problems that I had. I just didn’t really mesh well with the other people on campus. Sometimes it happens.

My other suggestion is to go to as many different universities as you can. Get a feel for a small campus and a large campus. When I was looking at colleges, I knew that I wanted to go to a smaller school. In a larger classroom, you are sometimes just a number. I wanted the ability to form a connection with my professor, so I was looking at smaller universities.

College is expensive, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from looking a school that you think would be a good fit. These universities sometimes offer the biggest scholarships. Another suggestion is to go after as many scholarships as you can so when you get to the end of your college career, you aren’t up to your ears in debt.

So back to the original question. Should you attend college?

The answer is this: it all depends on you.

Some people are not cut out for college. And that’s okay. Some people don’t continue immediately after high school but then go back several years later, and that’s okay too.

If you didn’t like high school, that doesn’t mean you won’t like college. College is a lot more laid back and you actually get to take classes that you want to take. There are a few required classes, sure, but you can space them out over the four years and take them alongside what you actually want to be taking. You also have the opportunity to do things that you never could have done in high school.

The best thing I ever learned in college did not come from any textbook. It came from my professors that challenged me to think. Challenged me to solve problems. That is the college experience that has made a better person and opened me up to more job opportunities than just straight knowledge and facts. I had the ability to adapt to any situation. I am in a job that is not exactly within my field, but I was willing to learn. I was willing to take what I knew and apply that to something different.

Is college beneficial? Hell yes.

But if you’re not ready, you’re not ready. But that doesn’t mean that someday you won’t be.

Shop around. Figure out what exactly it is you want to do. You control your own life and destiny, not those around you.

The Problem with Education


We have an education problem.

Yes, funding is being cut and teachers are being laid off. But that is not the heart of the issue.

Since the inception of public school, education has been about producing workers. This is an industrial model. It is an outdated model. We are creating these workers for jobs that no longer exist. Coming out of high school, the only job you will be able to get is an hourly position flipping hamburgers or stocking shelves.

Well, at least it’s a job.

True, but we shouldn’t settle for an hourly position where the only hope of a raise and being able to make a living is to get a promotion. I’ve been in a job like that and it sucks. Literally. It sucks away your being.

So what’s the solution? Go to college?

Sure. Going to college could help you find a better job. Having graduated a year ago, I can say that it is a driving factor to continue your education after high school. It’s a nice thought until you are holding your diploma wondering what you are going to do now. I was unprepared. A lot of people—scratch that—most people are unprepared.

But why? Why is it that we have this idea planted in our minds about having your life together by the time you graduate college so that you can have a great job that will support you and help pay off the crippling debt of getting the diploma? Because that’s how it used to be. In the beginning, a college degree meant a lot. Guaranteed a job? Perhaps.

The worth of a bachelor’s degree has faded. So you continued your education after high school. Got into a good school. Party a lot. Take and pass some classes. Get what you came for and then head on off to the real world.

Unfortunately, now it is hard to get a job with just a bachelor’s. The master’s is the new bachelor’s degree. And that sucks. For a lot of people, it is hard enough to get through four years of college (financially, mentally, emotionally), but then to turn around and keep going?

We are no longer guaranteed a salary position that we can live off of for the rest of our lives (and I’m not even talking about something that you really enjoy doing). In this day and age with inflation and the high cost of living, it is really easy to just settle for something because of the dollar sign and benefits.

But what meaning is this giving your life? What is your real passion?

And that right there is the problem with education. Passion is being squashed out of you at a very young age. This industrial model of school is meant to create cookie-cutter workers who will obey instructions, do as their told, and get the job done.

Obedience is drilled into each and every student using fear. If you don’t turn in your homework, you’ll get a zero. If you don’t do well on a test, you will fail. If you fail, you will have to repeat the year. This places a lot of pressure on students. They have this fear of failure so they obey the teacher and do what they are expected to do. There is also the added social pressure, of being ridiculed for being a failure. You’ll have to kids in the grade you are supposed to be in wonder why you are no longer in class with them, as well as the kids coming into the grade wondering why you’re still there.

That’s a lot of pressure on someone who barely knows how to tie their shoes (I wore velcro shoes until I was in fourth grade, and even know I wear slip-ons).

Education is all about passing a test, a standardized test that tells you just how smart you are. That’s 10 months worth of learning for a 40 question test.

That definitely doesn’t sound like a big waste of time.

We as students are defined by our tests scores. It is more evident in the SAT test because the higher your score, the better chance you have of getting into the best college, the well-known college.

When I was in elementary school, I think starting around second grade, we could take a test that would gauge our creativity. If you made a certain score, you were considered a GT kid, you were “gifted and talented”. That meant that all the GT kids were placed in the same class and that class would be a little bit harder than normal classes and they would be given more “freedom to be creative”.

I took the test and failed to get in three times. From what I remember, it was a ridiculous test. You were given forty circles and it was your job to create something from each circle. You had like five minutes to try and do forty of them. Another one was they gave you this bean shape and you had to draw a picture incorporating the bean shape. I think I made it into a rocket ship or something. Those are the two parts of the test that I remember the most, both of them are drawing related, and get this, I suck at drawing. Can’t do it to save my life. Even my stick figures are lopsided.

I took that test three times and failed to get into the GT program every single time. Finally, my mom asked why it was that I was never “granted access to the smart people’s club.”

They told my mom I wasn’t creative enough. I don’t think she told me this until a couple years after that, but it still isn’t very fun not being included in what we kids thought of as the “smart kids group” when I thought that I was smart.

But here’s the kicker. At the age of 15, I published my first novel. And that wasn’t even the first novel I had written at that point. I had already written the rest of the sci-fi/fantasy series that was 7 books in length. At the age of 17, I published my second novel.

Did I make a lot of money? No. Am I famous? Heck no. But I was doing what I loved to do. In spite of being told that I wasn’t creative enough to be considered gifted and talented and smarter than everyone else, I created worlds and stories in my head that I was then able to communicate on paper for others to read.

My passion drove me.

That is what is missing from education right now: passion.

How do we fix this problem? By letting the teachers actually do what they became teachers to do—inspire others.

I would not be where I am today if not for two teachers and three professors who inspired me to be better, who recognized my passion and helped feed the flames.

With standardized testing comes a set of rules and guidelines that the teachers must follow. They are limited to what they can do in the classroom. They are boxed in with not a lot of room to maneuver and do something different. Because doing something different would produce students that are outside of the cookie-cutter model needed for industrial work.

Those that inspired me, kept me interested, and actually really taught me something did something different.

So how do we fix it? How do we solve the problem of education?

You are going to be learning your whole life. You should continue to learn something new everyday. It is hard to do this and ultimately grow as a person when you are put through hell as a kid.

So what do we need?

We need teachers who show love in the classroom, not fear. We need teachers who love to teach others. We need teachers who live to inspire (I remember the look on my fourth grade teacher’s face when I brought her my published book and flipped it open to the dedication page).  We need teachers who are passionate, because how can they help cultivate passion if they themselves don’t have it. We need teachers who are not afraid to be different.