There's this feeling I'm supposed to have now that I'm about to walk across the stage. I've finally received a college degree. I'm supposed to be proud of this huge accomplishment that "few people" accomplish (in reality a college degree has lost that value due to the vast amount of people in my generation that went and got one). And better yet I should be honored to receive one from the school I've attended all this years.
I don't really feel any of that. But, don't get me wrong, I am happy that it's over. But it's just that. I'm happy that it's over.
I've made my way through the end of this maze the education system put me in just to, at the end, receive the piece of paper that the school system has been trying to convince me I need my entire life.
Now I'm not against a college education but I am against what it has become. A system where you're told you need the "new" and more expensive version of a book every year yet ironically the people in last years class can accurately sum up the class in about a half hour. A system where the tuition, and chancellors' salary seem to go up slightly every single year but the campus is for the most part the exact same. A system that has made the financial aid office a place where the students go in hopes of being able to get a little bit more aid money so they or their parents don't have to work as hard to pay the school bill and the lady at the front desk tells you the school doesn't have any funds available.
Now as someone who is about to graduate in a few hours I cant help but look back on the experience feeling like I just got robbed. Now I know people will say things like "its what you make of it" and trust me, I made the most of it. But as a member of the first generation that is likely to die while STILL paying their student loan debt, I feel that it still wasn't worth it.
I always knew what I wanted to do after college. That makes me one of the lucky ones. I went through college and got an internship every summer in that field. Now when people ask me what I learned in my 4 years in college, most of what I tell them will derive from those 4 internships, not from the classroom. Now if theres anything I appreciate, it's that I knew what it is I wanted to do and how I want to do it. Most graduates are not as lucky. Had I not known what I wanted to do and had an idea on how to get there, I would be lost right now.
The two things everybody leaves college with is experiences and debt. Lets look at debt first. Just the simple fact that some people stick to a major because they cant afford to switch majors and be in school for much longer proves that school is far too expensive. Now that person has a degree they don't really want just to get a job they don't really want and pay off a huge debt they shouldn't have. My favorite argument against everything I'm saying, that usually comes from students, is that the experiences made it all worth it and made this moment what it is. But here's the thing. If ANYBODY does ANYTHING for 4 consecutive years with the same people around you, chances are you will learn SOMETHING. That something could be about yourself, the people around you, or maybe even both. Whether or not what you learn is worth a debt of around $30,000 (the average student loan debt) is completely up to the person. In this case, with a system that doesn't teach to be able to apply but instead to pass the following exam, I don't think it is.
This part of the journey is over, at least for me, and like I said before, I'm happy it is. This degree was just something I had to get in order to open up the doors to the places I need to go. However, at least speaking for myself, college did not give me what I needed to succeed at the other side of those doors. I learned all that on my own. I took those internships. UMass didn't give them to me. The only thing UMass gave me was a bill. A bill that was too damn high.
Now a response to this could be "it wasn't about the money. Stop and think about how much you paid and whether it was worth it. Now think about what the price will be when your children reach this point, and how much a college education will cost. Now when you realize the government made $41.3 billion dollars in student loan profit in 2013 (that's not far from what Apple made that year with $41.7) think about if that is the way the education of the this countries future should be.
Time for me to walk across that stage.