New Direction

A New Direction – Redefining Success

Okay folks – it’s time for the truth to come out.

New Direction

Disclaimer – these opinions are the opinions of the writer and even though she names certain names, she means nothing against these certain people and in fact is friends with some of them, she just wants to point out some stuff that these people don’t cover in their literature that is similar to College Rebellion.

So far the posts on College Rebellion have been focusing on inspiration and encouragement to pursue one’s own education insofar as one is able to in order to decide whether one’s path includes a college degree of some sort or not, and how to go about being autodidactic about one’s life regardless of college’s current involvement. We’ve also been making it a personal goal to find and report on resources for at-home and travel-related ways to get knowledge and experience in your chosen area(s) of study.

However, we’ve barely taken the tip off the ice berg here. Really, this is a confession – I have felt like something has been missing from College Rebellion for a long time and haven’t been able to put my finger on it up until recently. Actually, it’s something I feel very deeply that the entire “Uncollege Movement” is missing.

I was finally able to put my finger on what College Rebellion was missing when I ran across this article, “When ‘Life Hacking’ is Really White Privilege.” Just replace “Life Hacking” with “Hacking Your Education”, and you’ve got the theme of the rest of this article. By the way, read the original article too – it’s some good stuff.

Then everything clicked when an essay I wrote three years ago got recently published in Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko and Dr. Carlos Ricci’s book, Natural Born Learners: Unschooling and Autonomy in Education.  While the content of the essay is definitely more reflective of the Jessica of three years ago, the spirit of my message and the title of the essay are really what College Rebellion was ever all about: Redefining Success.

I want to get back to that as being the #1 intention here.

First of all I don’t want we, the “normal” people in this world, to feel victimized by our circumstances to the point where we can’t get out of the negative headspace to at least start seeing some aspect of our dreams come to life; however, I also feel like so far College Rebellion has been shallow and insensitive to those of us who are not and will not ever be able to live the epic, parentally subsidized travel, adventure, and entrepreneurship that so many of our peers effortlessly pursue.

I’ve been really upset for quite a while because try as I might, I can’t live up to all the “aim for your dreams!” mantra I preach on this website, because I feel like I have to as part of the Uncollege Movement. I say “those of us” because the person I’ve been trying to fit into the Epic Box the most is myself – I haven’t allowed myself to accept the fact that I want to live a normal life, that I feel my success depends neither on going to college nor not going to college, nor even what I do in or out specifically. I have dreams, yes: but I also have finally reached the point where I am confident that following certain Big Dreams is actually not the most important thing to me in life. Can you believe that?

My boyfriend suggested that I start a new website called “College Rebellion Rebellion.”

However, from here on out I’m going to refocus more, with emphasis still on helping everyone who comes to this website decide whether college is a wise choice for some point in the next stages of their life.

With College Rebellion and its predecessor Life Without College I’ve been trying to encompass the two other main lifestyles that not going to college often lends itself to: extensive travel (brought to you primarily by Blake Boles), and entrepreneurship (brought to you primarily by Dale Stephens). The thing is, those are only two facets of a very wide range of people who have decided to not go a completely traditional route.

I have traveled a bit, yes. I also have this little website. But what dropping out of college in 2008 has really sealed for me is that my true dream, the most important thing to me in life, is the simple stuff. Being able to have a job that pays enough so that I have the time and means to spend time with my boyfriend, my dog and cats, my friends, and my family back home. Time and money to garden, to take walks, to work on my little stories, to read books and learn new things.

And I know I’m not alone in valuing these far above being “epic.” It’s just not for everybody and you know what? Thinking that it was was causing me to sell myself short, which is the exact opposite from what I want College Rebellion to ultimately promote. I mentioned to a cohort of mine, Peter Kowalke of Unschooler.com about Russell’s idea of “College Rebellion Rebellion” as I was detailing to him my also recent decision to soon begin pursuing a college education again. He made the suggestion of “College Sellout.” And while I didn’t want to run two opposing websites, I have decided to adopt that title for my personal blog. Please feel free to check it out – my “About” page details specifically why I have made this personal choice.

Anyway, I am just writing to include you all in my decision to turn College Rebellion in a slightly different, more real-life focused blog and website. I am currently on the lookout for more contributors of both information, opportunities, and personal anecdotes of the life and times of College Rebels and their Allies. We’re all on the same boat here, and I’m sure all of you would love to hear perspectives from other writers than just me all the time!

Stay tuned folks, and don’t forget I am always open to any sort of feedback you have in the comments below, and/or feel free to email me via the contact page with suggestions and proposals for guest articles. I am also taking submissions for a new “Your Story” forthcoming section of the website, so let me know if you’d like to see your story on College Rebellion! Thank you for all your support!! ~Jessica

Defining Success

defining success

“Many successful college kids would have been successful whether they went to college or not.”

“The bachelor’s degree? It’s America’s most overrated product.”

“More people need to realize that you don’t have to get a four-year degree to be successful.”

At some point, before or after you read this entry, I highly recommend reading this short article from which I have pulled the above quotes, Living the Good Life Without College.

This John Stossel article stirs up copious controversy among its readers: there is a frighteningly obsessive value put on “education” in this day and age; particularly on K-12 and University being the only means of achieving a “proper” education. Words I hear repeatedly in these arguments are “job,” “employment,” and “success,” often coupled with “you can’t.”

A huge amount of fear is ingrained in the American mind. We are told by teachers, politicians, peers, and often our family that, to paraphrase John Taylor Gatto, we must go to school, work hard, and get good grades; go to college, work hard, and get good grades; graduate, get a job, work hard for 40 years in that job to get as many promotions as possible and make as much money as possible, in order to buy as much STUFF as possible. So, in essence, the purpose of education is to own large amounts of grand material possessions. How valiant. How patriotic.

“Success” is a lightly thrown-around word these days.  What is this ever-sought enigma of ultimate achievement? What does that word really mean?

It is time we stepped out and thought for ourselves enough to acknowledge we want something different.  Something better. It’s an injustice to deny ourselves the true success of passion pursued.

It really is strange: in spite of everything else you could do in your precious young years, you are told to jump right into college after graduating highschool, whether you know what you want to do or not.  And, because you are unsure of what to do, you run the risk of college becoming another comfort zone, as grade school probably was – a safe cocoon delaying your rightful introduction to the Real World of Real Awesome Things.  So many of us jump into college not knowing why, or what we want to do afterwards.

Is it worth wasting years of our lives slogging away at something we are hardly passionate about, just because we are supposed to??

Somehow, it is tempting. By November 2007 (my “senior” year) I had gone around in millions of circles in the past eight months or so, pondering over what I truly wanted to do for the rest of my life. Every time I’d settle on something I would say to myself, “Okay, this is the one this time! This is my calling.” Of course, I usually changed my belief about what my “calling” was every month, give or take a couple of weeks. Naturally, it would have been be nice for me to simply choose one thing to study for four years, and sit back and “relax” while I learned it all, feeling secure in the knowledge that, once I graduated, I would have a degree that would supposedly allow me to make tons of money in the corporate world. But, by the time I would have graduated, would I have even wanted to have a job even close to what I had majored in?

I am 21 now: the answer is a firm NO.  And that’s for a myriad of reasons that I couldn’t have even comprehended at 17.

What have I been doing these past four years?

I’ve lived with passion, reverence, and awe: embraced this life and what it gives me, discovering myself and what I love doing – discovering the world and what it holds for me, and what I can give back.

When we are passionately pursuing life, we are successful.  We can do this with or without college: it is up to you whether you go now, later, or never.

“Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be Yourself – But Please Conform

Our culture claims to teach individuality.  When you’re young, you are told you can be anything when you grow up.  I don’t know about you guys, but I took that message very seriously. 

That was for the first 15 years… then, they change it around. 

“Well, you can be whatever you want, but right now we have to focus on getting into college.  And, by the way, whatever you want to be when you grow up, you have to find a college that has that major and study the dickens out of it.  And if they don’t have your interest as a major, forget about it.  Pick another major – it will probably land you in a more lucrative job anyway.  And, by the way, if you don’t know what you want to do… go to college anyway.  You won’t be wasting your time, and surely you will figure it out eventually.”

In college, they are very big on you grasping these great and foreign concepts of “creativity” and “critical thinking.”  They even have classes on it.  My friend took one, and actually it sounds like fun, but that is beside the point.  The point is, I thought creativity and critical thinking were things you picked up just from existing in real life.

Something is wrong here. 

Be yourself.  But you must conform. 

Be creative!  Think for yourself, by all means!  But stop – you’re not doing it right! 

Why teach us to be individuals for a while, and then change around (right at the time of the teenage identity crises) and say we must fit in a box with everyone else?  Suddenly, dreams are forgotten and replaced with an artificial motivation to get into college and study something that “probably sounds good… I guess, anyway…”

Do yourself and the world at your fingertips a favor: be yourself, and don’t conform.  Do what you need to do to get by, and then reach for the stars.  Don’t listen to anybody who tries to put you in a box: people in boxes don’t change the world.

What’s Wrong With College?

Absolutely nothing.  However, you are probably familiar with many versions of the following:

“You can’t get a decent job without your bachelors.”

“A 4-year degree is what employers want.”

“There’s no way to prove that you can competently hold a job without going to college.”

“Statistically, people who hold a bachelors or higher earn more.”

“A college degree is simply the tried and true way to go.”

Surely there is a good amount of truth in these words. They had to originate from somewhere, right?

The number one thing college promises is the ability to get a high-paying job immediately after graduation. In the past couple of decades the message has boiled down to this: without college, there is no chance for succeeding in the job force.

Except that approximately 20% of college graduates are unemployed; and, in 2003, the unemployment level of college graduates actually surpassed the unemployment level of high school dropouts.

There is no denying that a college degree can often give you a significant edge over your competition in the Career World. In fact, it’s usually required – but it’s only required unless you can give your employers something equal or better.

Besides, in college, there are only so many subjects to major in that actually lead into careers that are guaranteed to “pay well.”

On top of that, classes are taught in basically one way: in the classroom with books, homework, tests, organized class discussions, “group projects” (aka I-do-all-the-work), and limited hands-on activities. College classes are rarely, if ever, taught to more than one learning style with no regard for the rest of us.

The great thing is that there is more than one way to get the education, skills, and experience, required for a job. Better ways that are:

– faster and less expensive than a 4-year degree
– devoid of irrelevant, required Gen Ed courses that take extra time and money
– more suited to your learning style
– directly honed in on your field of interest

The biggest mistake many highschool graduated make is enrolling in college “just because.” Perhaps this is a path you have been shoved down yourself: you don’t know what you want to do yet. But you have been told all your school career that you are supposed to go to college.

I would have had to make the college decision at 17. Now I am 21, and I’m more thankful than ever that my entire life was not determined by what I wanted to do four years ago.

———–

Sources:

“Unemployment level of college grads surpasses that of high-school dropouts” by Jared Bernstein

“What can students do to improve their chances of finding employment after graduation?”