DiplomatiCat the Talking Beast

Inspired By Ire, Impelled By Ideal … "Never a TAME Lion"

There is only ONE reason to attend any college: taking the classes that are offered there.

So I read this the other day:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/colleges-ratchet-recruiting-applicants-just-turn/

There are so many things wrong with this article, I am not even sure where to begin.

Actually, no, I DO know. It starts on the whole wrong premise of why anyone should even be applying to college in the first place. I WISH I had known what I know now about selecting a school the first time around. You see, I was raised to think of college as part of the compulsory education, not as a separate specialized study for greater depth in field of interest, I figured I was expected to go to school (Kindergarten through College) and that once I had my degree I would be free to do what I wanted with my life.

What I did not understand, was that my mother envisioned college as the magical job ticket, not as having any value in the actual education I might receive, so my dutiful attendance of college was ultimately a misguided effort at best since I had no idea at all what I wanted to do with my life by the time I was applying to schools. This is important: I should not have gone to college, at least not right away. Not until I had a reason to go, and could select a school that best fit that reason. When your reason is because its what you’re supposed to do, then you have no idea how to select an institute to give you what YOU need.

Which brings me to the next point – these schools and the idea that you are somehow trying to clamor and fight for the right to attend their institution because THEY are such hot shit is fully idiotic. No student needs to be concerned about heartbreak or self worth thanks to rejection from a school that encouraged them to apply! And these counselors are the ones doing that damage, since they are not making the selections they don’t actually know what any school might want out of any individual because the problem is they are trying to sell the individual to the school and the reality is that it should be the other way round.

Students with a solid enough academic record are plenty well capable of gaining acceptance into any institution if it is one that genuinely has something to offer the STUDENT. A student should be looking at the schools that can fit the needs they have and then go about informing the school exactly why you as a student can benefit from what they have to offer rather than what they can get from you. They will get the tuition from you, or someone else, that is what they are in it for, and that is why they reach out to students who show enough academic promise to meet a baseline, The shining out is not done on the report card, it is done in the interview process and the personal essay and the reasons you give the selection committees to believe that you will find a reason to stay there and continue to pay that tuition for several years and then represent them well on the other side of that.

COLLEGE IS A TOOL TO BE EMPLOYED TO YOUR NEEDS, NOT A PREREQUISITE FOR LIFE. YOU SHOULD KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT OUT OF YOUR LIFE BEFORE SELECTING A SCHOOL TO BEST HELP YOU ACHIEVE THAT IF AND ONLY IF THAT IS NECESSARY TO WHAT YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH! Don’t waste your money and energy on it just because that is what you’re “Supposed” to do. NO one knows what anyone is supposed to do to achieve success, The ones who achieve it frequently did it through perseverance in pursuit of something specific, not because they got a degree in it, but because they wanted to do it they learned about it and studied it to a depth of knowledge which helped them do something with that knowledge they could apply.

Unless you are going into medicine or law, you may not necessarily benefit from four or more additional years of schooling. Particularly not if you are bright and capable and already had a good prep school education gearing up for that college experience, I found that I was vastly disappointed in the college level of education because it failed to exceed the quality of teaching I had already received in high school. I ended up choosing a liberal arts college (which is now considered one of the new “ivy leagues” as it is New England wintery and old and small enough to do that, I guess) and after a year I realized I was going to have to transfer because there was NOTHING at all in the course catalog that even looked remotely interesting to me and filling four years of credits with that which was available was going to be an arduous and unpleasant task.

It was a GREAT school , mind you, with all the high marks in the Fiske guide to snobbery and pretentiousness that make it impressive as a name to drop. but there was nothing there for me to LEARN. And the kicker is that my counselor had “advised” me that particular school was a “reach” for me to apply to! Seriously? Based on what? I knew that was my first choice though, by the first round of deadlines so I applied early decision. I got my acceptance and that was that, one and done, and the rest of my senior year was nothing to sweat since I had my admission to college in December already, reach or no reach.  What a load of puckey! They wanted me because I wanted them and had a decent enough academic record. What set me apart was most likely the passion and personality I put forth in the things that were not quantifiable by grades, but conveyed by my recommendations and my own expression. They would have been foolish not to take me, and I knew that despite my academic record being only solid and not uber-exceptional. And it really didn’t matter if they said no, because the point was to apply to put your best foot forward and if they said no, it was pretty much their loss as there were other schools that could do for me the same if not better than they could. You don’t recruit only those who are the most obvious academic powerhouses, you recruit those with the potential to find greatness with what they can give. Those are not always the 4.0+ GPA’s because not everything in life is a test to be graded. It depends on what the college is selling and what the student is looking to buy. “rating” only matters if the selling point of your degree is going to be based on the BRANDING of the institution on the diploma rather than the quality of the knowledge a candidate has. Unless you are looking for the school to sell you as a hire, who cares? Find a school that will teach you something useful, even if it is a community college because the reason to learn it should be for the knowledge not the label.

Now as to the idea that schools are bruising these fragile children with these recruitment strategies, GIVE ME A BREAK. Rejection is something they better get used to in the real world anyway, so I don’t see wny that should scare anyone off. Get tough now so you don’t get knocked so far down on your ass the first time the real world gets a shot at you. This is asinine to blame schools for reaching out to students who might benefit from what they have. You don’t know someone just by looking at their highschool transcript. IT is a PASSION and a DESIRE that drive the driven to excel . If a student wants something badly enough to pursue it with their whole effort, then get the hell out of their way, don’t judge them not good enough on paper. SHEESH, I did a ton of shit when was younger just because I had no idea it wasn’t possible half the time.

The real irony in my case is that I had a summer job at a temp agency right before I went off across the country to attend my freshman year of college. It was as the personal assistant to the main account holder on one floor of the downtown Deloitte and Touche office in L.A., and I was doing a lovely job for them, much to the relief of the other secretary who usually handled the rest of the floor and who had been burdened with the work of my job for some months as they tried unsuccessfully to find someone half capable to fill the position when the regular hire had left to start a family. I could hot understand why anyone found the job so challenging as I was managing just fine, well enough that I was soon offered the permanent position once my contract with the temp agency was completed.

The woman who delivered the offer was just about floored when I explained that I was due to leave for the opposite coast to go to school at the end of the summer, so I could not accept it. She blinked and seemed puzzled at the notion of “school” and in a bewildered voice asked, “…Wh-… Bu-…. How OLD are you?” and her jaw fell open when I responded, “Seventeen,” as if that were only natural. I had no idea that it was not, and so I went off to school in September, leaving behind a job that would be the envy of any entry level applicant trying to get a foot in the door of that company without a blessed CLUE as to the career I likely would have excelled at and become well compensated for. It was, in short, the precise sort of position that my mother hoped to assure me securing with this degree I went off to get. How stupid. I could have just stayed there, and become indispensable and saved her a hundred grand of tuition fees and myself a lot of stress. If I had wanted to get higher up the ladder, I am sure I would have found a way to take courses while working to increase my knowledge, but the practical experience I had would have already put me ahead of the game against any four year graduate down the line, but I left to go to college because that is what I was supposed to do to get the job. HAH!

Asinine, right? And if only I had understood that I was not going to school to learn anything, but to get a job ticket, I would have just stayed put and been wildly successful. Currently, I have a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and no job and no idea what the heck to do with myself, while had I skipped the whole college crap, I’d be either the right hand of the Director of Ops at one of the largest accounting companies in the world, or well on my way to being that Director myself just for sticking with the summer job I took to get some extra cash because it offered 12 bucks and hour, which was way more than minimum wage for skills I already had at the end of high school. GOOD skills that apparently are in short supply enough that they couldn’t find an adult with a degree to do the damn job half as well as a seventeen year old HS graduate.

So figure out what you are doing and make sure that going to college is worth the time and money to you to achieve your goal. You might be surprised to find that it is not serving that ultimate goal to go at all and there may be other paths that are more direct. College is not for everyone, nor should it. be. The world, and the job market, needs skilled people that can DO something well, If college is not going to further your capability to do something well then aren’t you just some kind of designer label that costs thousands of dollars to try and impress people with? Sure some few people can afford the 80 thousand dollar handbag made by Chanel or whatever, but most of us just need something to shove our crap into so we don’t drop it and a simple handbag from Ross will suffice for that. Why bother with the hassle of the label when you are only going to drop that sucker into an office drawer when you get to work and never look at it anyway.

There is only ONE reason to attend any college:  taking the classes that are offered there.  If a school offers classes  that you would benefit from attending, then apply there and attend if they accept you, and if they don’t, apply somewhere else that will offer similar courses and will also let you attend them.  Or audit them.  Or apply again to the school that rejected you if they are the only one that offers those types of courses.  The name of the institution is not so important as the quality of information presented, and don’t be fooled into thinking that the biggest names provide the best education at all.  It’s a game you can never win if you start evaluating life through the value of a name brand.  The advantage provided by the degree is more than the advantage provided by the pedigree of the degree, but the reason the degree is of any value at all is because it is supposed to indicate that you have been exposed to the requisite information to get it.    Don’t make the mistake I did in just thinking I had to go to college because it is what I was supposed to do.  I wish I had decided what I wanted to DO first so that I could apply to schools best equipped to help me achieve that and better avail myself of the opportunities within that environment too.

All I have now is a piece of paper that means I got a higher education, but the stuff of real value came from a few classes in the form of wisdom.  I’d rather have that and the paper hasn’t helped me get anything anyway.  Most jobs I would be interested in having would require a whole different background and even further schooling anyway.  Not sure it couldn’t have been better doing something else with that time and money instead.  But thank GOD my parents paid for it all up front.  At least I don’t have student debt….

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