Removing the College Wool


College has proven itself to be a mostly reliable financial investment, but if that’s the lone reason you decided to enter into an academic institution, then I think the college is failing in its academic mission.

I find it defeating that almost all college anecdotes overwhelmingly ooze with starry-eyed accounts of immense personal growth without a trace of substantive negative effect; like I’m supposed to believe that an institute that supposedly teaches you to effectively and critically reflect on life through a diverse set of lenses simultaneously fails to provide you with the skills to realize the negative impacts of the institute itself. No, if the college has successfully taught me to critically reflect, then I should be able to pick apart the negative impacts of the institute.

But, then, why are critical and honest collegiate reflections so scarce? Do we lie to ourselves to maintain the satisfying cheery-kid image to justify tuition payments? Then the college has failed to teach us to value intellectual honesty over its tuition rates. Or maybe the college has convinced us to genuinely believe that it leaves no substantive negative impacts on our quest for personal growth.

But, simultaneously, StrengthsQuest gets shoved down our throats repeating the message that we all have pros and cons to our personality, implying that each of our quirks and traits contain a set of positives and negatives. Why would the quirks and traits induced by college be any different, then?

Oh, wait: in StrengthsQuest only your strengths are reported, not your weakness, so your cons are left unknown. Maybe the college does the same, keeping its cons contained in blind spots while highlighting the pros until the ink bleeds through. I guess that’s why the SNC graduation speeches are all cookie cutter. The stench of intellectual swindling fills the campus air.

Quit pretending your collegiate transformation has been nothing but a linear growth towards being a better well-rounded person; the path of personal growth is jagged and riddled with catch-22s. If you now value open-minded individuals, then you probably feel a tension between close-minded friends and family. You probably experienced this when you realized how awful your racist uncle is over Thanksgiving.

There’s some of you who are probably outcasts to your family due to newfound liberal viewpoints. If you find a novel sense of amity among fellow college-goers, then high school graduates (who never attended college) have comparatively, and probably unjustly, diminished in value. Don’t pretend you don’t look down on solely high-school graduates as less successful counterparts.

If you take another four years through school, are you just further perpetuating the academic bait-and-switch where the allure of creative problem solving skills ends up dickered for sleepless nights with no practical yield but a better grade? And what about the first sentence of this article? Have I foolishly been convinced to value intellectual honesty over monetary desire? Are those cookie cutter speeches actually what’s best for the ceremony?

Some of the values instilled in the world of academia are relevant only in the academic realm while setting me up for social backlash when I leave college and enter the public sphere and find my academic values to be unwelcomed. It’s a real fear, it’s been failed to be addressed and it even seems to be avoided.


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