I love the world I live in. Were I to change it, I think I would alter attitudes and beliefs rather than attempting to change governments or institutions, because, in the end, it is the things we believe and the values we hold highest that shape our world. I would change the belief that qualification and ability are inextricably linked.
For example, in the eyes of many, the twenty-four-year old Master of Fine Arts graduate possesses more ability to instruct ceramics students than the self-taught ceramicist who has been operating a functional studio for thirty years, merely because of qualifications. I’m not saying that qualification and ability never come hand-in-hand—merely that they don’t have to.
For those who are not sure if school, or higher education, is the right place at this time, I would say: trust yourself! If you have a nagging feeling that institutionalized schooling isn’t right for you at this point in your life, listen to it. College can be a great tool to get you where you want to go, but it’s just that: a tool. It’s important to keep it in its proper perspective, as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.
If you’re struggling with the college question, a good litmus test is to ask yourself the following questions: I’m planning to go to college to what end? What am I trying to achieve? If your answer is something like, “Because I want to be a veterinarian,” or “Because it’s an efficient way for me to learn everything that I want to know about classical philosophy,” then you’re probably on the right track. If, on the other hand, your answers are something like, “Because otherwise I’ll end up working in a fast food joint,” or “Because I don’t know what I want to do with my life,” then I would suggest you do a bit more soul searching.
I learned, through personal experience, that there are much better places to find yourself than college: write a book, save the rainforest, teach English as a second language, revitalize your community, build a house, or live somewhere you don’t speak the language.
Furthermore, never believe those who tell you that not going to college resigns you to a lifetime of flipping burgers. Those who perpetuate this myth are usually none other than the school faculty and administrators, who are completely dependent upon your continued support of higher education for their continued employment. The vast majority of people I know who have chosen to forgo college are doing amazing things like writing grants, traveling the world, working on farms, or doing web design.
Finally, keep in mind that not going to college now is not the same as not going to college. I believe many people would benefit a great deal from taking a few years to experience, and experiment with, various occupations and lifestyles before they make the decision to attend (or not attend) a university.
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