Scholastic Saturdays: The lie of education

Back on week two of this multi-blogger experiment I first wrote about the topic of education when our starting topic was kids. Now it seems we have come full circle to the topic of education. Given I have already touched on the topic I had to think for a good minute on what I wanted to say this week.

Lately education has been a conversation topic I have had with a couple of family members and dear, close friends. You would think that this would be normal as education is my field. I come from a family of educators. My grandmother would change careers from secretary at a tobacco plant to teacher to principal. My mother was an art teacher turned Spanish professor. My father started as a PE teacher and ended up being an early education professor.

Fast forward past my roots and here I am with a B.A. in Sociology, a M.A. in Education, and currently finishing up my PhD in Curriculum and Instruction. Although I enjoy what I study and have high hopes for my educational career I am not blind to the reality of how much simpler my life would have been if I had gone a different route. Because of the experiences I have had as an undergrad and as a graduate student I believe in mentorship and cutting through the BS that a lot of people seem to want to sell to kids.

Hold your gasps and bear with me as I say this, college is NOT for everyone. Yes, the Phd in education just “said” that.  When my sister-in-law asked me to talk to my 16 year old niece I was quick to ask her what she wanted to do. When she said she didn’t know I kindly told her college is not the place to figure it out. It would be a waste of time and money for her and her mom. Yes, thats right, College is NOT where you go to find yourself or figure out what you want to study. College is where you go when you have an idea of what you want to do in life. A college degree is basically a degree of theory; the theory of the field you want to work in. Unless you are able to do internships each summer you will not be taught the practical, the actual applications of all the boring theory you are being bombarded with in college.

I told my niece that she should take some community college courses while still in high school in the three fields she thinks she is interested in. If by the time she graduates (she is a junior) and if she still has no clue what she wants to study then she should go to community college and get her basics out of the way and get an Associates degree and get a job. The real world is fabulous for slapping reality into kids. Parents don’t have to do it, just let the kid go out and try and fend for themselves for a bit. Teenagers should not be pushed into college to fail, no matter how good their high school grades are. Unless you are a motivated student college will eat your hopes and dreams.

I know this sounds harsh but I find that its better not to sugar coat things into something they are not. Getting a degree is important for one’s future. Getting a degree in something that can get you a job and is something enjoyable is way more important for a person’s emotional health. Our generation is full of thirty-somethings with multiple degrees either living at home or working low paying/stressful and un-fulfilling jobs. My generation is depressed and struggling to figure out what they want in life or where the next paycheck is coming from. I believe this is because we were sold a lie; that education would fix our problems. Please lets stop selling lies to kids. Lets be practical and honest. Every time I am approached to talk to someone about what they want to do in college or graduate school I tell them the truth about college. I plan on doing the same with my son.

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