in The Meditations

No Education For Me

I went through college from 1994-1998.

I graduated from the George Washington University in late 1999, after owing about $700 in fees to the Gelman library for losing books. I had to get my degree out of hock.

I didn’t learn a damn thing. I did all that I could to not be educated. I even got fairly good grades.

.:.

I majored in Economics, and had enough credits for a double major in Political Science.  Had I taken a history class in lieu of opting to take Peter Reddaway for another semester, I would have had both majors.

I’m not a trained economist.

I’m not really much of a trained anything, except someone that knows how to get by and get through stupid systems.

.:.

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. I had a semester to go, and I wanted a break. I had a strange roommate, after being spared a life with an even stranger roommate.  The girl I adored was gone from me, and practicality required that I set such feelings aside.

I had a fun job working at a magazine. Two young owners took me out drinking and I had concert tickets all over. I could see such scintillating acts as 7 Mary 3 or post Runaway Train soul Asylum.  I was selling magazine ads, probably the most inherently difficult job there is. Nobody wants to buy them, and nobody trusts publishers. It’s why I’m good at sales, I was sort of successful selling nothing.

I wanted to take a semester off. I was going nuts. Banging out cold calls to every cell phone store, collecting money from bar owners.  It was hard managing school, especially at the end. A couple of classes had attendance policies (I showed up sparingly to classes except for Econ classes.)

My mom said, “It sounds like you’re about to break our heart,” after i suggested that I skip a semester.  There was despair in her voice.  It was a test of wills.  I caved.

I just wanted to work for a minute.  I was exhausted by being broke, on the respirator.  I didn’t want to rack up credit card debt. I wanted to just relax and make money. I figured I could make $1,000 a week if I was left the hell alone.

I loved DC.  Everything about it, it seemed so big and epic. It was for me. Ambitious hustlers trying to get over on the senators they interned for, people.

I saw the future, and I made the connections I needed to from college.

.:.

I thought college was a sham from the first.

I started at Otterbein College, it was then well regarded.  That’s before the Degree Minting Fiasco.  I started there, and people said, “Wow, Johnson, big time.”  I had good ACT scores.  Bad high school grades.

It was a sham and a half. A continuation of high school, except even easier, and with cheesy RAs trying to get you yo “respect the choices of others.”  I was stuck in a dorm with a feverishly mastrubating Theater student.  I had my standard issue girlfriend, a nice, quiet pretty girl who put up with my ridiculousness for whatever reason.

My courses were easy. They are all easy. There was no thought required of me, no analysis and certainly no research.

I would guess that the only book I Had to read in 4 years was Peter the Great. I read others- Carver became a favorite of mine, but nothing seemed to be required.

I didn’t dodge hard courses, I sought them out.

.:.

My second (and last) year at Otterbein, I had a professor – Dr. Macclean.  She was a well dressed, mean-spirited lady.

In one of the classes, we talked about how Teddy Roosevelt was a “Trust Buster.”

At the end of the class – lecture ended with 10 extra minutes, she was trolling for questions.  After about the third request, I asked: “Hey, how could we bust trusts if they were legal when they formed?  Wouldn’t that violate ex post facto, and wouldn’t it deprive investors and others of expected returns.”

It was a legal question, and it wasn’t a fantastic question, but I was certainly interested. I  was 19 or 20.

.:.

“I don’t think the rest of the class is very interested in this line of thought,” she said, after some hemming and hawing. It was fine that she didn’t know. She didn’t understand the question.

Whatever.

She trashed me for asking an earnest question.

Not one of those “Hey Teacher I’m the Smartest” questions, but a real question I was genuinely curious about.

At that point, I knew that it was all a sham.

All of it.

.:.

I went through college then, learning how to do the minimum and get good grades.  I think my grade point was 3.4 or so. I showed up to maybe 30% of my classes. I didn’t learn much, my degree is a sham.

I thought George Washington University would be better. It was better. But that’s like saying that Wendys is better than McDonalds.  Inarguably true, but it’s still the same genre. More alike than different.

At least at GWU I met people I loved and admired. Didn’t happen at Otterbien.

I can’t see how anyone bright would think their degree is anything other than a sham.

It’s good training for tolerating cognative dissonance. It’s good training for subbordinating your mind to do something else. It’s good training for dealing with assholes.

But it’s not particularly good for learning to work or think.

.:.

I see 30, 35, 40 year olds now going to pursue certifications. In everything from Bartending to Cisco Routering.

Even going to grad school at low end places like Ohio Dominican.

The ads on the radio promise a bright future.

The future belongs to those that can think for themselves, to those that are instigators, fearless creators of opportunity.

That’s who the future belongs to. Not someone with a worthless Education degree or weekend MBA.

.:.

It’s scarier to think that we’re on our own, but nobody’s waving any magic wand to make us ok.

There’s no pushbutton path to ease and comfort.

.:.

Since I left – over the last year or so, I’ve worked to correct the deficiency in my education.

Learning to code. Not because I intend to be a coder, but because the mental abstraction is good for me.

Learning history. Not because I yearn to be a historian, but having context to the present narrative is good for me.

Learning about the brain and how it works. Not because I fancy myself a neuroscientist, but learning why I get mad, why I am happy, and how my brain and body work together can only benefit me.

It’s working. I’m 200 books into my education. It’s cost me less than $1500 bucks, and it’s just starting.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I embrace it.

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