How I Failed College By Graduating

It seems that more and more people proudly wear their “I didn’t go to college” stickers these days. I, however, did go to college. I loved every minute of those four years while despising every aspect of “higher” education. (And when I use the term “college” in this post it is referring to all formal education.)

I won’t lie. I made up my major. While meeting with a counselor my freshman year I spoke of all my feelings and thoughts and dreams and aspirations. This is exactly the WRONG thing to tell a guidance counselor. She pushed the business card of the Dean of New College over her desk. Pushing what she thought was a lost child out the door to the land of dreamers.

As I went through college I was fortunate enough to have more discussion classes and less textbooks. People labeled my classmates “hippie”, “granola crunchers”, or “lost”. And I was one of them

But, yet everyone around me was pursuing degrees that hadn’t been altered during almost the entire existence of the university. Course material would gradually evolve when new study cases came about, but generally 101 through 1032 courses titles could still be found in old degree manuals.

I have a solid opinion that college does not prepare anyone for the real world. I appreciated every moment I had in college but more because I grew up socially than academically. Learning how to defend your views on an issue or book in a classroom of my peers was more rewarding than passing tests with high marks. (I also rarely passed test with high marks. I am aterrible test taker.)

I am not saying that everyone who graduated with a business, marketing, biology, or otherwise degree is not inventive or creative. They may be even more creative than I am. I do not believe that formal learning is a hinderance more so than education through experience.

I have been a zookeeper, a cook, a rum saleswoman, and a multitude of other professions in my short career. The one thing that has always kept me running is my ability to communicate. I am beginning a book, Average is Over by Tyler Cowen. He believes the new power skills are the ability to complement new technologies and work as an analytical force in teams.Not everyone has to be a programmer (although they are important). But, yet there is a need for people who are able to adopt and adapt to others way of thinking to help solve problems.

The major I made up was Sustainable Food Systems in Global Economies. I studied two years hard sciences and two years of liberal arts. Both focused on different cultures and their involvement with food. I am now a marketing strategist and for me I see a close resemblance in the two. Currently, I have to act as a liaison between entities in my company (communication skills) while giving analytical breakdowns of demographics and connecting them to objectives and innovations (business/business development skills).

These are all traits that I most likely would not be able to find sitting in a classroom. Pulling all-nighters to pass a test someone else has deemed suitable to judge desirable traits.

I know this title says that I “failed by graduating” and my entire post has been about how those particular classes helped me. I see the irony. I also know the distinction of traditional education vs. what I had and what the working world is like. I would choose the working world any day of the week. Even over my discussion classes. Working for compensation is a much more satisfying goal for me than a test grade. Also, when you are working many people want your help and want you to use their help. There are mutual benefits traveling all around and easy to snatch up if you know what you are looking for. Also, while working, there is a constant evolution of passions, interests, and results. In college there is only one result: to finish. No one else is truly benefiting from your learning until you graduate and practice what you have learned. In the real world learning, mastering, and teaching are one in the same.

A constant evolution is better than a massive build-up of knowledge. The former helps humanity while the latter is selfish.

❇ I will never remember that counselor’s name, but I am eternally grateful.