The College Gauntlet
Unfortunately, the excruciating cost of a college education looks more like indentured servitude than a route to a better life for students these days. Student loans are stretching into their retirement now! It has gotten out of scale with what graduates can expect to earn in many fields (such as teaching), and has instigated a further division of social classes as a result. Personally, I believe this is intentional: a weight upon the middle class under which the children of the wealthy are immune. We studied the rapid increases in tuition over the last 20 years in a finance class and found no logical link to costs—no justification for a rise of almost 300%—no concern over what it does to the kids, their parents, or the economy—just the pursuit of maximum profit. Once a bastion of culture and refinement, higher education has become a racket that should be boycotted. Great ideas are abound however, from no interest, tax-deductible loans to free, state-provided degree programs; let’s make one or more of them stick. Here is another: have all professors become accredited free agents, collecting class fees, holding classes wherever they find reasonable room rates, and paying universities a sensible administration fee for structuring degree programs for students and verifying all requirements are met. If we don’t hold the cost of education in check, formal degree programs will soon be out of reach for most young people, and the disruption in availability of quality schooling for ALL of our children will hasten America’s downward spiral.
Of course, higher learning is always within reach if you seek it yourself. Education is intended to prepare you for self-sustenance at the highest level you care to achieve, and you can acquire that knowledge on your own. For those seeking alternative resources, the self-help genre has answers for everyone, making it a lot easier for the teacher to be in the right place at the right time. Self-made Man seeks knowledge wherever he can find it. The best in each field were my teachers, through authorship—American presidents and statesmen, psychologists, philosophers, and businessmen. There are great books written on every topic; great seminars, audio-programs, and workshops designed to ingrain very specific skills, which you can walk out of the classroom with and use today. Often the best realize the value of their ability, and thank pride, they write it down. Warren Buffet, Ricardo Semler, Ayn Rand, Donald Trump—all deserve the highest praise for leaving us evidence of so many remarkable minds. How wonderful it is to be so entranced by one’s teacher.
I found instructors who teach and work in their fields and took their classes. I found a mix of theory and practicality worked best for me—an apprenticeship education similar to that found in Europe, tailored to my interests alone along paths that were commercially viable. Such an education has cost no less—probably more as it has become a lifelong pursuit—but my conscience is clear; none of my time has been wasted and no false patterns, such as cramming and forgetting, were ingrained. Having taken control of my own education, it is hard to convey the immense pleasure I get from learning now. Learning is an adventure. Discovery is fascinating—out in the world and within my own mind.
I sympathize with the self-educated as they are often denied opportunities which are handed to the degreed, regardless of comparable ability. Our culture shouldn’t confuse the un-degreed with the unprofessional, as the world has an overwhelming percentage of self-taught, self-made millionaires. After all, it wasn’t Dr. Aristotle, Dr. Thomas Edison, or Dr. Jesus. What are anyone’s credentials once they are working? Results; and actually, true credentials have never been anything else. Life is an education you never graduate from, giving us a chain of knowledge longer and more useful than any university could provide. If we are not stuck in a rut of repetition, we are building a very potent body of life-furthering knowledge—a wealth to be proud of. Regarding the question “Do you have a degree?” my response has always been “I have the degree of intelligence necessary to perform the work I’m interviewing for, and I’ll be glad to prove it.” More often than not, I have been given the chance. Not all economies offer that opportunity, however.
In the Great Recession, so many people were thrown out of work that companies hiring had to restrict applications to the degreed only, which cut the numbers standing at the gate from 1000 to ten. It is horrible to be out of work, but imagine the overwhelm on the other side as well when they have only one job opening. When I found myself on the wrong side of the gate, I went back to school. With project management experience, I was able to get my bachelor’s degree faster than anyone I had ever known, and much more cheaply. I wrote an eBook about it to help others in the same situation, titled
Swing a Four-Year College Degree in One Year without Going Bananas!
Visit BachelorMonkey.com to view the project. Follow suit if you haven’t finished school yet, and you will have the degree as a backup, rather than regrets if times turn against you. If you are paying the college tuition for your kids or grandkids, Bachelor Monkey! will save you thousands and them a lot of time and agony. Extra tip from a dip: let the company who hires you pay for your Master’s.
We must invest in education if we want America to be the envy of the world once more. At one time, our leaders had the vision to see generations ahead, and knew what that investment would yield; one of the most advanced civilizations in history. We need the honor of that vision again.