Monday, 18 May 2015

The College Experience: An Intern Looks Back

Anthony is a 17-year old born and raised on the busy streets of New York City, NY. He enjoys
collecting and breeding fish, skateboarding, and neurology. He enjoys all subjects in school that
challenge him to the point where he can soon reach a greater understanding of the subject.
                  There has never been anything I’ve loved more than learning. From exploring the depths of the seas to understanding how the mind works, I am fascinated by snips of interesting details, facts, and pieces of knowledge that seem to skim by society as a whole. School has never really been something I dreaded, or, let alone, resented, it’s always been a place where my mind can explore its boundaries. I’m going to be a senior in High School now, and, looking back, I have to say that I am a bit disappointed in the education system in the great land of opportunity.
                  Being raised in the center of the Big Apple, I’ve always thought I had the opportunity to learn anything I wanted in school. However, soon after I took my first Regent exam, I realized that the Department of Education has confined me to the small box I’ve been always told to think out of, rather than transcending past the boundaries of my mind based on a “college preparatory curriculum.” It wasn’t long until I realized that a lack of creativity, an abundance of ardent regulations, and, most importantly, a dwindling amount of time to complete that curriculum would only follow me for the rest of High School. The thought alone makes my blood boil, to know that the foundation of my education has come from a precarious system in which educators believe that one method of learning will work fine to suit every single individual in the United States. But don’t take it from New York City alone; there are no federally or state funded high schools in all of America that are allowed to create their own curriculum.
                  The damage, in my eyes, is irreversible. The foundation of knowledge is the only thing we have going into a life where we have to make decisions for ourselves. We cannot let this foundation be attacked from all angles, and then repaired with bits of useless information the federal government has called “important for success.” There is no reason why the next big shot ballerina needs to understand why nucleotides are the building blocks of DNA, or that Rasputin remembered by many by his massive penis which is preserved in a museum today, but, according to the federal government, this is all pertinent information for us to succeed in college.
                  So that brings me to college. My first question on this subject is, why? Why is it that a young academic must go to college to fulfill his dreams of becoming a successful scientist? Why is that I can’t gain any sort of weight in an argument because of my college qualifications? Why is that an individual who knows more about America’s fiscal situation more than the experts that have gone to Harvard, Princeton, and Yale do not get the recognition he deserves? The answer to all of these questions is the label. You are labeled as a successful economist only after you get a graduate degree. You are not a keen scientist until you submit and win your dissertation. The label that we all strive for (Graduate student, Dr., etc.) is just a random classification of “knowledge” we should not strive to protect.
                  All I’m saying is that we should not make getting into college our number one priority in life. Our extreme capitalistic society demands that we work our hardest to win the competition and get the best job, and, countless federal studies prove to us that more years in college gives some individuals more money in the long run. We often tend to overlook the facts, like the amount of debt individuals go into as they try to gain more money through their education, we tend to turn a blind eye towards the fact that a lot of the time, half of college is socializing, partying, and even picking random classes because you don’t want a heavy workload. I’m not saying that this is the norm, but, let’s be honest, it’s out there.
 If you know what you want to do, and you know that you would be better off going for it without getting a degree from a college, my idea is go for it! College was only created for topics that needed a meticulous and rigorous work schedule (theology). I understand if a neurologist wants to go to college to learn about neuroscience, but I do not understand why a soccer player needs to go to college for political science, in hopes of having some sort of “back up plan” if his soccer career does not work out. Instead of wasting his time studying about Mr. Otto Van Bismarck he should be practicing how to curve a ball from thirty meters away. However, the fear of not being good enough, or even scared that he won’t be successful without a college degree makes it seem impossible for one person to specialize in anything, even though that is what college is intended to do. There is no reason to lose precious time in a never-ending game of tag between you and a college just because you feel like you won’t be anything without that degree.
I am not saying that anyone who went or is going to college is wasting their time; I plan to go to college as well. I am simply trying to explain that the idea behind this college experience and the preparation for this experience are factors that are eating away at America’s ingenuity. They are pilfering individuals and sending them off into a vicious cycle of labeling during which the college education system manufactures the “perfect” writer, or, the “perfect” economist.
 We should never take the abilities we have for granted, for if we continue to reduce our curriculums and continue to strive towards making our lives better just because of a worthless degree, I fear that our lives will soon become wasted.