It has been so ingrained into our heads that college is absolutely necessary to have any sort of quality life. Many of the baby boomer generation, for example, don’t seem to understand that the increasing cost of schooling and vast decline of jobs is making college more of a crater that we’re getting ourselves stuck in rather than a jumping board to help our careers start out strong. Instead of investing our time, money, and energy into doing what we are passionate about, and learning about the world around us through those willing to show us, we are getting drown in massive debt with no solid way out. This means that rather than being able to focus on changing and benefitting the world around us, we are forced to work jobs that have nothing to do with our degree in the first place, to make sure we can stay afloat despite the massive debt hovering over our heads like an ominous cloud that can’t be forgotten. This is a narrative too familiar for my generation; a truth that stings for so many. And I’m sorry that many have believed that without school, they’d get nowhere. This is far from reality, and only perpetuates a crushing sense of obligation to do something they know deep down is, well…a waste of time. Currently, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 260,000 people with college or even professional degrees are still working minimum wage jobs. Furthermore, according to Center Of Labor Studies at Northeastern University, more than a third of recent college grads with jobs are working in positions that don’t require a degree. There are plenty more studies coming out that say the same.
Going to college in hopes of figuring out what you want to do can also be detrimental to your bank account. I don’t know if self exploration warrants getting yourself in over ten grand of debt. That’s why I initially decided not to go to school right away. I graduated from high school only two years ago, and have since been working two jobs, traveling, and volunteering where I can. Rather than spending money, I’ve been saving, and finding myself all the while. During this time I realized my passion for knowledge, people, and writing could be combined into journalism and media. So I began planning to go back to school. I went through all the motions of signing up, doing all the paper work for FASFA, and even checking the campus out, yet the whole time there was still a part of me that felt torn. Was this really the right decision for me?
The answer is no. And I’ve known the answer for quite some time. It came down to having the courage to make this decision, despite the endless sea of critics that will most likely assume my lack of desire to waste thousands of hard-earned dollars on a relatively useless degree stems from laziness rather than genuine concern and examination of a system that is well on its way out. I want to show people that by stepping outside of your comfort zone, and refocusing your energy, you can actually create what you want to do rather than waiting for a piece of paper to tell you that you can do it.
Now, am I saying that schooling obsolete? Absolutely not. There are careers that genuinely need a college degree. Doctors, lawyers, engineers…but the amount of liberal arts degrees like philosophy, writing, and art seem to be rampant in comparison. I’m hoping that in taking this step and being true to myself will give others who know college isn’t right for them the courage to do the same. I want to explore the world around me, to discover and spread truth, and to share this and empower people to know that they truly can change this world. This decision is by no means an easy way out of having to work hard. It rather is a way to refocus my energy and time into doing what I want to do.
Jim Carrey gave a beautiful and inspiring speech at Maharishi University in 2014, and what he says in this video perfectly summarizes why I’m taking this leap into following a path less taken. He explains that his father, too, wanted to become a comedian, but out of false security, took the practical job as an accountant. And, guess what? He was let go from his job. Carrey goes on to say that, although his father taught him many lessons throughout his life, the number one lesson is that you can fail at what you don’t want to do, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
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