I get to talk to a lot of people entering college right now. I get to hear what they are going through, what they are experiencing, the stress, the drama, the ideal waiting on the other end. Many of their decisions I openly, and to their face, criticize. Not in such a way that I demean them— most of these people are my friends— but in such a way that I hope they will see what I do.
I talk a lot about how I believe kids are effectively stripped of their sense of agency from a very young age. The moment they are shuffled into a school and herded from one class to the next, they are losing precious moments they could have been seeking out their own desired paths, their own desired interests, and fulfilling their own passionate curiosity.
Many of the people I openly criticize are the product, or better put, victim, of that system. I see many of them choose to go to college not as a rational individual choosing his or her next step in life, but in the same way that geese would fly South for the Winter, or Salmon upstream at a certain time in life. The notion of what college has become is not a steppingstone which people see their end goal through, but simply an absolute stage of life they have been driven to not by their own agency, but by someone else.
I can say these things above to the face of many of those going to college, and they will agree intently with my statements. I am more disturbed by this reaction to my statements than I am by the mass-decision of college. No one sees the intense debt lying on the other end. Few see the value. They see everyone else doing it and assume that majority couldn’t make so intense a mistake. I believe firmly they are wrong.
I can tell them about the data leading me to believe that college is an economic bubble. Even then they will agree. I can say horrible things which I believe with be the financial effects of the decisions they have made. They will still agree. I can say, “why are you going to college” and the answer will always be something said in fear. It may be said in haste such that it sounds like confidence, in blind faith such that those answering can escape the knowledge of what I have said, or in a sudden refusal to believe.
I can only sigh. They recognize that they have no idea how they are going to pay off their increasingly high debts. They recognize that their degree will most likely not lead them to any employment. They recognize that it may be years of their lives wasted, both in school and in paying for it. They recognize what I said before I said it, yet are terrified of breaking away from the other geese.
I speak so critically of them because I love so many of them. I see them as people who deeply want to sprout their passions into the world. I would do anything such that they could, or more accurately, so they could gain confidence in knowing that they could.
Someday soon I hope they will let themselves know the gravity of what they see, rather than seeing it and casting it aside as only a superstition. Someday soon I hope the world will see that it has been pushed along a path, rather than being allowed to find its own. Someday soon I hope the world will learn to stop and to choose.
Until next time,