Op-Eds Opinion

General Education: A Senior’s Prospective

The higher education system in the United States of America is designed for you, yes you, with these words in front of your pupils, to be poor. While you are in school and presumably racking up debt and taking courses that may or may not pertain to whatever it is you’re supposed to feel like you maybe could possibly one day have some slight inkling of desire to do with your life, you are supposed to be poor, because you’re making an investment!

Jake Nelson
Business Manager

 

 

 

jakenelsonThe higher education system in the United States of America is designed for you, yes you, with these words in front of your pupils, to be poor. While you are in school and presumably racking up debt and taking courses that may or may not pertain to whatever it is you’re supposed to feel like you maybe could possibly one day have some slight inkling of desire to do with your life, you are supposed to be poor, because you’re making an investment! 

How do you stay afloat while in college? That’s easy, my friend! Find a source of un-taxable income! What’s that, Mr. Nelson?! You crazy kids, un-taxable income is found by selling what can’t legally be sold! It comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and scents! It’s real easy to do because everyone is bound to want some kind of product you’re selling. Do I have your attention?

Do I genuinely believe that the United States of America, with its educational subsidies and misinformed populace, actually wants kids to be drug dealers while in college? No. Although the Gangnam style craze was only two years ago and most girls I know twerk before they read, I promise I’m not a cynic. 

The system that has been created could theoretically support this kind of activity. I wouldn’t know, but I do happen to be a Business major, so it is pretty obvious that un-taxable income is a hell of a lot prettier in the bank account than that which is taxable. 

Let’s not be naïve right now, there are a plethora of other ways to make money while studying in college. One could work with the seasons and shovel driveways; one could find a paid internship or even a work study job. Hell, we all have computers – start a business, create an app! Do you see what I’m trying to say?

If you’re an underclassman who can’t wait for the weather to warm up so you can finally be in awe of tanned girls at the height of sundress season, if you can’t wait for another summer of mowing lawns and Bud Lights by the pool before “accidentally” texting your ex-girlfriend, if you’re even mildly excited for your next year of college, stop reading immediately.

This article is written by a philosophically inclined and musically obsessed 22-year-old who got his first job interview a week ago. It went quite well, thanks for asking, but he feels something funny just below his jugular these days, like he’s missing something he’s yet to have. 

These opinions are simultaneously my own and your own as much as they are my cats and your dogs. If you haven’t known this feeling, please rest assured that you one day will. If there is one thing I have learned in my years on this Earth it’s that for both better and worse, however different they may be, the human experience insists upon itself. If we haven’t met, we surely know each other in some light of day. Do you understand?

The credit floor at this institution is 120. Prior to this semester starting I had completed 119.5 of them. Theoretically speaking, I could have moved out of my on-campus townhouse and into my friends’ place up the street, taken a three credit course and been done with it. Look mom, I’m a college graduate! 

It’s only general studies, but hey, whatever, who isn’t general these days? I never would have done that. I appreciate my parents’ financial commitment and wish to make good on their investment. If it weren’t for them, I would have dropped out after freshman year. 

This brings us to the now. I have been to Europe on multiple occasions, exclusively read the foreign affairs section of Forbes at least five days a week, and have a gigantic obsession with Aristotle. Ironically enough, the biggest scheduling annoyance I encountered this spring was the International/Multicultural portion of my general education requirement. Furthermore, the only course that would allow me to fulfill my general education requirement in one semester was Intermediate French II. 

Keep in mind that no part of my major or minor curriculums in college had anything to do with international study. This is not meant to disrespect my cheese-eating friends, for I am truly enamored with the French culture. Do you know what I’m going to write next?

I took three years of French in high school and was taught by a man who routinely insulted my intelligence. I’ve yet to meet anyone as sharp and highly doubt I ever will. I didn’t learn much French, but I learned a hell of a lot about what it meant to be educated. 

Without him, I would not be writing this column, would not be working through my first novel, and while it is safe to assume I would be breathing, I’m not sure if I would truly be alive. 

So, I sent the email and politely asked the proper administrator if I could be cleared to register for the course after explaining my situation, told her I took advanced French in high school (which is true – I completed the requirement in three years and was well above state testing averages) and assured her the course would not be difficult for me. 

Keep in mind that while I believed this, I had not taken French in six years. Do you understand that this has naught to do with the course in question?

Now? I sit in a computer lab three days a week with four other students while a professor speaks French to me for 50 minutes. Isn’t that an incredible sentence? I am Paul Rudd. The teacher has endless energy for our (mostly my) questions. It has actually been a rather pleasant experience minus the nightly assignments.

I will graduate in a timely manner. I simply mean to poke at the absurdity of the situation because, although laughable, it is truly a misuse of valuable time. A friend of mine, a petite and fiercely Italian wine aficionado, happened to send a Tweet some time ago. I believe it was a month or two, I can’t be too sure. I think it resonated with me because I always imagine Tweets in the real life voice of the Tweeter and in her case that means an effervescent Long Island twang. 

It read something like, “Ever think about how you’re just in college because that’s what they told you to do and your life doesn’t really have any direction? No? Yeah me neither.” She’s funny. It was funny. I know her as well as I care to think I do and I think I know she’s not a cynic. 

She made, I believe unintentionally, a fantastic point. I’ve often thought of her saying that of late as I juggle what I’ll be doing after May’s graduation. If you’re still reading, it’s because I’m clever – the point has been made.

General education should be named something less general. I don’t know what that should be and I don’t care to waste my thought on it. The only thing that I learned about general education in a classroom is that I want to be anything but general. 

Statistics courses, which were required for my field of study, not an administratively imposed set of guidelines, taught me that I want to be different, to be an outlier or some freak who will never have a real job because he believes he can contribute something new and fresh to the world. Take your general education back. I don’t want it. It’s a dog with fleas that has been neglected by a drunkard and serves me no purpose.

It is, generally speaking, entirely stupid.

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