The Dark Side of College

By Garrick Hoffman

Depending on whom you are and where you plan to apply to, investing in college is barely considered a rational, calculated decision today. Today four-year universities come with an astronomical and unrealistic price tag, and people will enter majors with virtually zero pragmatic purpose, subsequently graduating into debt slavery. Historically, usury – the practice of money lending attached with interest – has been not only condemned but illegal, and yet is happening ubiquitously with college loans. Indeed, this debt problem comes with a host of other problems, such as economic stunting as a result of burdensome, outrageous student loan payments to be paid every month, and it needs to be resolved immediately.

Nonetheless, students should hold themselves accountable and halt their lamenting of student loans, since these same students accept the price tag with hardly any clear understanding of their goals. They accept what they’re getting into. And they may not ask themselves, why saddle one’s self with colossal student loan debt if one isn’t going to acquire legitimate, useful, pragmatic skills that they could put into action? Is it the ticket in hand at the end of the journey that matters most to people? What substance does that ticket bear if one cannot acquire a job with it, and if they didn’t effectively learn anything in college?

Observing our peers at school sometimes instills a sense of pessimistic doubt. We ask questions: Do you have a sincere interest in your academic pursuits? Do you perform well in class? Do you put forth your utmost efforts? What’s your GPA like? What’s your goal while in school? In other words, why are you here? Fortunately community colleges are a preventative measure: one can acquire an education while dodging the dizzying prices of a four-year college. However, this doesn’t negate the fact that many students in any college – community or not – don’t really give a shit about their education. College is a social experiment for many students who find themselves in the throes of a component of the Americonformula – the conforming to the American formula, which consists of graduating high school; immediately enrolling in and graduating from college; and finding (what’s typically a vapid, subpar) job that just pays for one’s means of living. And a lot of people do this at a university level with university-sized price tags, not properly understanding how this affects their future. Of course, many students face pressure from family and peers – not to mention the workforce, which demands college education – to enter college immediately after high school, oftentimes leading to unnecessary debt and poor academic performance.

It gets even more dismal, too. For many, the end of college means the end of curiosity.

Many believe that when they graduate, their studies end there. All curiosity, all exploration, all questioning, all pursuit of knowledge and wisdom and understanding is effectively terminated. They believe learning outside the classroom is devoid of purpose (“Well, that doesn’t help me find a job”). Reading proclivities are curtailed to nonexistence. They’re done; they no longer have to toil away for a stamp of a letter on their paper, or for a piece of paper at the end of a journey. All they have to do now is toil away for a company that will pay for their means of living while they pretend they’re living a fulfilled, substantial life.

Ultimately if one invests in college, it is paramount they consider the implications. They must have a clear goal in mind. They must understand the magnitude of the burden that is their student loan debt. They must be in pursuit of a skill, not just general knowledge of things their professors lecture on (things which may not even be correct to begin with; remember that professors, though educated, are not infallible). They must harbor some reverence for education and learning and curiosity. Otherwise, it’s game over.

They also mustn’t subscribe to the Americonformula blindingly. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they must continue to study and read to further their understanding of the world, to expand their minds, to open their eyes and achieve disillusionment. Remember that the “A” on a paper or test may be more symbolic of diligence than understanding. It’s up to the individual to understand.

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