Let me be impromptu for a minute here…

So, it’s Friday. Friday, the day that signifies the end of a too-long workweek. Friday, where people generally do things like get out of the house or decide to stay up late because there’s plenty of time to sleep it off later. Friday. And here I was thinking it was Thursday or something.

Gotta tell ya, I’m feeling really stupid right now.

This is part of the reason why I’m not exactly enamored by the idea of a certain long block of vacation time known to students as “summer break”. For one, there’s the slight amnesia regarding days of the week once you get rid of the only timekeeping device students are aware of during their studies, also known as a “class schedule”. And then there’s the general tendency to forget everything that you’ve struggled to learn during the course of the past nine or so months, which you’re going to be expected to recall almost perfectly after three months of loafing around, doing nothing that is related to said subject matter in the least. I suppose that the second reason doesn’t apply too heavily to more liberal majors, but when your major demands a fully stocked laboratory and plenty of fairly hazardous chemicals in order to “study”, you’re kind of slightly more screwed.

Of course, these reasons can be solved in a straight-forward, though not fairly simple, manner: obtaining a calendar to look at regularly and getting some kind of internship that is at least tangentially related to your major in order to keep things somewhat fresh. But there are a few things that I’d like to question if only for the sake of padding this entry: 1) who uses calendars aside from people who are stuck in some kind of cubicle (with all of their weekends circled in mercifully bright red ink with something akin to “NOT in this hellhole, whoo!” scribbled underneath) and 2) internships aren’t exactly being handed out to everyone on the street corner. I suppose that’s kind of why I’m looking uneasily at the future beyond a bachelor’s degree; jumping into a crowded pool of applicants isn’t something that is done without worry, you know? Surely, I’m not the only one with a bachelor’s of science in biochemistry who wants to conduct research eventually. The specialties and focuses may be different, sure, but the path to getting there is more of a throughway than some sort of abandoned country road.

But then you have those people, like my mother, who is so utterly confident in my bachelor’s (which I haven’t completed yet, as I’ve told her several times over the course of the summer) and in my subject that she believes that I’ll land an excellent job, no problem! Ha! She doesn’t exactly help her case by adding that irritating “it was God’s will that you went to college, you should be fine” shtick she seems to have grown entirely too fond of for my taste. Sure, Mom, it was totally about my faith (or notable lack thereof, not that she seems to have noticed) and not at all about my grades, or SATs, or any of the applications that I had to fill out, all of the hoops I had to jump through, in order to get accepted and get everything paid for in someway or another. I swear, that last loan disclosure statement may have just asked for my soul; I didn’t really read through the fine print, choosing to skim it quickly and sign off on it just to get it out of my face.

I mean, it’s great that there’s this push to get everyone educated. Every other commercial that’s on while I’m watching Jerry Springer seems to be about how to attend college from home or while raising children that were probably the result of kids making rash decisions with their lives for a little thrill (not that I could hold it against them, the little poots. Unless they’ve proven themselves to be uncouth little brats, in which case you probably still can’t, though the parents are fair game). I’ll admit, I’m not above scoffing at these options for education, but there is definitely something to be said about the sheer multitude of alternatives to the usual brick-and-mortar, outrageously overpriced, “traditional” college route to a bachelor’s, most notably the fact that, as competitive institutions, they can make it their goal to kick the traditional institutions right where it hurts by attracting everyone who would otherwise have no choice but to enroll in unyielding halls of aged stone. And that’s exactly what they seem to have accomplished, as far as I can tell (though I’m no expert in these sorts of matters), becoming the Wal-Mart to a university’s Trader Joe’s, churning out degrees in bulk rather than make everything they sell somehow special and exotic, which is more than a good enough reason to charge you out the ass for them. This can go a long way to explaining ever rising tuition (though, again, not an expert) with the extra sticker price going towards what kind of logo you want on your particular piece of paper when you finish.

Am I more than a bit disappointed with the system that’s currently in place for higher education? Yeah, though I guess I can always look at it in this way: at least I get to finish in the prescribed four years.

I suppose that was the biggest turn-off for me when I had looked at state universities, aside from the fact that the nearest one to my high school was widely regarded as “high school, part deux”. It was an alright university, with a somewhat reasonable (the word is relative here) price and manageable enough distance from home so that I could’ve saved money and not have had to sacrifice my cushy, comfy quarters. Alas, while obtaining admission was easy (laughably easy; I could’ve failed literally everything in my last year and probably still have gotten in because of my writing skills), their package was less than what I wanted to help pay off everything, so I went with my current place of study. Again, expensive, but at least they’re not shy about pouring on the funds. I just have to go about, being a literal billboard at times, and study in order to make something of myself.

That’s all it boils down to, doesn’t it? I’m making something of myself and this is the method I’ve chosen to do so. It’s a bit of a hassle, but it’s definitely been done before, so even I can do it too. Not everyone can just start up a business in their garage or suddenly stumble across the world’s next big thing, but they can spend the greater part of their lives reading, writing, and observing. And shelling out enough cash to make one wonder if the university president’s house is getting remodeled. Again.

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Filed under Summer 2012

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