What separates a society from a pack of wild beasts is a fragile curtain with frayed ends, unraveling with the slightest tug or wisp of wind. One of the many microscopic threads in that curtain is schooling. Education is great, of that there is no doubt. Every person on this crumbling Earth is entitled to receive the best education they possibly can and this should not be dictated by class, finances, life circumstances, geographic location, race, gender, sexuality or any other meaningless distinction made to draw lines between various members of the human race. Education is a fundamental right. No one person’s growth of mind should be stunted by any of the aforementioned circumstances as if they were conditions to be treated.
The institution of education is a vaunted one that can have great benefits across one’s life. However, utilizing the full range of the education system to its maximum capacity is not for everyone. This is where I take issue with the approach in high schools across the nation. A student is assigned a guidance counselor in junior year who begins to prepare them for the next phase of life as a college student. Now, in and of itself, college is a great resource. However, it isn’t for everyone, at least not right away. Students and young adults who want to go into a trade should be encouraged to do so if it is what they’re passionate about and nobody has forced them into it. As long as a young adult isn’t being forced into a profession that he/she doesn’t want, let them take up a trade and forego college.
Barring the individuals who take up a trade or disregard college, we have a great mass of students who wish to attend college. But herein lies one of the many problems. These people have been in school for roughly a 12-year unbroken marathon of indoctrination amongst many of the same cretins that they grew up with. These years are certainly formative and many would argue that they are the best of your life. They weren’t the best years of my life, but I digress. After 12+ years of non-stop education, guidance counselors and parents expect students to continue on for another four or more years of schooling – with this, I take issue.
First, there is a phenomenon known colloquially as “senioritis” – this refers to the level of lethargy and boredom that a senior in high school begins to exhibit as they near their graduation and subsequently their freedom. Many students slack in their attendance and work due to this simple decline in interest. They’re done, and rightfully so; they’ve had a 12-year marathon of schooling. This is seldom thought of when guidance counselors are pushing students into colleges as if they get a commission for doing so. It seems to me that if a student were to be completely fed up with school at the end of senior year, only knowing that at the end of the summer they yet again will be starting a new year of school, their attitude wouldn’t change much.
This “senioritis” will carry over into their freshman year of college where quite a large number of students really begin to fuck up in a big way. Why? First, many of them are on their own for the first time and they start experiencing all of the fantastic things that up until now they’ve been shielded from. They live at school, they start drinking, they party, they experiment, they get a hold of the amazing and highly useful illegal drugs that have been otherwise demonized and they find out that they’re actually quite a good time. So, now that they’ve been introduced to all of the great shit all at once, you expect them to also let go of their longstanding disdain for school and really focus? Their distaste for school is going to be the worst that it’s ever been. Sure, some students will take it upon themselves to do a great job, and bless their little hearts – but for the students that find all of the great freedoms, substances, and earthly pleasures of college to be quite enticing, they fall behind in their studies as expected.
What can fix that? Well, I would argue that taking a longer break between high school and college for them to get into all of the good shit on their own with no studies to effect negatively would be highly beneficial to their personal growth. Obviously, students should be careful, but, in a Darwinian fashion, those who don’t make it out of this break between high school and college would’ve had that problem in college anyway.
I’m just being a bit facetious here, but a gap year (or so) is indeed useful. Aside from this break being helpful for students to sew some of their wild oats before reaching college, it also has great importance in another way. I do think it is quite difficult for a kid of 18 or so to know what they want to do for the rest of their life. That’s a big choice to make at any age. Sure, if you know you want to be a doctor, get on that – but for everyone else who hasn’t had even the slightest chance to discover what it is that they love, college will be a directionless endeavor until they find what they want to do. Here is the kicker, if you haven’t yet found what you love because you’ve been in obligatory school for 12 years, you might not have the easiest time finding it in your next four years of university level schooling.
I won’t go on about myself for long, but my story is certainly relevant. Out of high school I was encouraged to attend college by the usual team of family and guidance counselor. I applied “early decision” to Stevens Institute of Technology, a very expensive private engineering school in Hoboken, New Jersey for which I received a substantial amount of grants and financial aid to attend. It really is a great school, and if you want to become an engineer, that’s a fantastic place to go. My sister went there, so it must be good, I thought. The problem was, I went in with a love for music that had nothing to do with my degree. I was there for three semesters before I realized I didn’t want to be a goddamned engineer, and so I transferred out to another school in New Jersey called William Paterson University where I majored in Popular Music.
Another problem arose – I loved music, but didn’t want to be in school for it, I just wanted to dig my fingers in and do it. I wanted to be in a band. After three semesters at WPU, I was asked to be in an unbelievable band of which I was a big fan already. It was a dream come true and so for the next five years straight I toured the country extensively, recorded, met brilliant people whom I now consider to be my family, and experienced things that many people never will. During that time, I realized that I was doing what I was hoping school would bring me. I swore that were I to go back and finish school I would not pursue music but instead journalism and my passion for writing. Well, it happened and I ended up leaving the band when playing music became a source of immense dread. But now, armed with more substantial maturity, knowledge, and a well-thought out direction, I was ready to return and finish school at age 27. The point is that it can take quite a bit of time to find out what you love and it shouldn’t be condensed into a ten-minute meeting with some out of touch old woman at your high school who may or not be on the payroll of the higher education system.
You need to make money, yes, this is true – to make money you need a good job. To get a good job, you need schooling. To receive schooling, you need a shit-ton of money. How can you win? If you’re lucky you get scholarships and such, but it’s not that simple. There are still thousands of dollars to be covered, usually in loans, if you’re going to attend a college, and even more so for a private school. Upon leaving the band, I applied and got into Seton Hall University, a well-known and highly reputable private school in New Jersey. I began taking classes for a few weeks before I had to withdraw because I couldn’t get loans substantial enough to cover the tuition of a private school. “I’ve been shit on again,” I thought. And yes, I was certainly covered in excrement from the angry anus of a money hungry education system that disguises itself as a benevolent institution. It is a vicious machine whereby the poor cannot really get the education they deserve and the rich fly through at breakneck speeds, sometimes paying their way to the presidency.
I believe that education is paramount. Despite all that I’ve just written, I actually do really love school and learning. I believe it should be available to everyone who wants it. Any country who prides itself on being a land of dreams shouldn’t rely so heavily on making a big business out of everything, especially education. The poor are held down and made to stay where they are because they cannot afford something that every living person deserves so that they can pursue their dreams. In America: Pursue your dreams, but you better pay up.
 And sometimes continue to fuck up well into their late 20’s where they become bald, bearded, drunken lunatics like myself.