Friday, September 20, 2013

College Freakouts

What's a "college freakout?" It's a term I made up myself for teenagers who pack their bags and leave a loving and supportive home for the college experience, only to get there and freak out.  They drop out and return home before the first semester of their freshman year is over. I personally know at least two such kids, a male and a female. Both come from extremely loving, secure, and happy homes, and I can clearly see how in their heart of hearts, the trade-off for a hectic college life just wasn't worth the love they'd be missing. They both suffered homesickness, which in my observation, is natural and seems more common among the offspring of stay-at-home mothers. Somehow, these kids have a stronger-rooted tribal instinct to remain close to the core family and community, as humanity intended for thousands of years until the consequences of the Industrial Revolution dulled that gene out of our DNA. But that can't be the sole reason. The fact of the matter is, that the schools of today are failing to retain the new generation of students.

It's too early to tell what the girl will end up doing, but the young man who returned home set himself on a self-exploratory mission in the local college scene, and I believe he finally found his calling successfully in the healing arts, without having to do the "go away to college thing" at all.

I went away to college myself, leaving home in Greece and coming to the US in 1984 to study at a state university. It was a little different then, but the beginnings of the commercialization of higher education were already starting to show. At the age of seventeen, I was lost for a couple of years until I settled on a degree I never applied to a career. But I did get that college graduate "status" I needed. It wasn't until my twenties that I figured out that what I really wanted to do in life was to work with kids and to teach. So I went back to graduate school and got an MEd. Only then, did my education finally become meaningful, because it was completely self-driven. I honestly find the current college experience to be nothing more than a social extension of high school. The average college degree holder these days is a shallow knuckle-head.  I won't deny either that I have huge deficits in my own academic and general knowledge.  And frankly, I feel that most of what I have learned and all the truths that I've arrived at in life and work, I've gotten there in spite of my formal education.

College is gradually becoming an unpopular choice for young people. The college dropout rate is at crisis levels nationally. Today, one in three freshmen drop out of university in the first year. Of course, the Harvard Study which is monitoring these rates lists the main reasons for dropping out as the rigors of academic work, inability to cope with the demands of study, family,  jobs, and cost. What the reporters of the Harvard Study fail to mention, is the un-talked-about shift away from campus college enrollment towards distance learning because for those who are truly interested in educating themselves, the high cost of a fancy college campus is not justified by the return on investment in learning! It's just not worth it anymore. One writer, James Altucher, makes a great case about this in his article " The Ultimate College Challenge To Fool My Kids Into Not Going to School."  His alternative ideas for self-education range from interning, to starting a serious Youtube channel, to living in an ashram in India.

I've mentioned in a previous post (about Google overlooking college degrees to hire), that if I was a young person today, I'd completely skip the B.S. and MEd degrees and instead study and get certified in midwifery and/or yoga, and save a heck of a lot of money. I've also written about how so many of the world's richest people seem to be college dropouts. But if I really HAD to do the "go away for college" thing, I'd choose something more holistic for my education. An example came to me just today from my lovely college junior niece, who brought it to my attention. The Maharishi University is a "consciousness-based" education school, not just an information-based one. At this university, students are immersed in a certain way of living and take only one course per month, enabling them to deeply focus on each subject. Almost makes me wish I was 18 again and had these options.

In Ron Paul's just released book, The School Revolution,"  he also argues that with the birth of the internet, the playing field for getting a quality education and a more equal shot at life has been completely leveled. With all the new online options, one can get an equivalent of a Harvard degree and more, at a tiny fraction of the cost without leaving home. This is also true for all the online primary and high school curricula that are popping up all over the internet, which are empowering more parents to home-school their kids. One such program is the Ron Paul Curriculum, which is discussed in further detail in the book. This is a complete online home-school curriculum offered for free to students in grades k-5, and costs only $50 per course for students in grades 6-12. What a deal!!

Just yesterday I was delighted to find out that one of my favorite blogging authors never went to college either. In fact she said she even purposely flunked out her last two years of high school. The fact is, today she writes like a double PhD graduate and she can out-write 95% of all the western journalists and writers out there, even though English is not even her first language. RESPECT!

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