Warning: This may offend you. It’s not intended to offend, but I’m guessing it may be a touchy subject for many reading. And that’s okay. If you don’t like it, you’re a grown up. You can put down your phone. You can go read something else. Or switch to YouTube and watch something that'll take your mind off my completely uninformed rant. Maybe something with a puppy or someone getting kicked in the nuts? Anyways…
I am not sure exactly when I noticed that there was an unspoken understanding that “intelligent” people go to university. But a definitive statement was made to me by my high school guidance counsellor when I was struggling to decide what to do after I graduated. The pressure was immense. What did I want to do? Where would I go to school? I was struggling. I didn’t really know what I wanted.
And so, when word got around that I wasn’t applying to school when my classmates were, I was unexpectedly invited to a meeting with a guidance counsellor. I was sat down, by an adult who had never spoken to me before, and told that I was “smart” and therefore I needed to go to university. It didn’t matter for what. But I definitely couldn’t “waste” my time trying to figure out what I wanted.
I remember asking the guidance counsellor, “But what if in the end I want to do something that doesn’t need a university degree or isn't even taught there?”.
My question was met with a raised hand, as if telling me to stop talking, and he repeated, “You are a very smart young woman. You will go to university”.
Queue a huge amount of self doubt and anxiety. That‘s a lot of pressure for a 17 year old kid.
But, I am very lucky and have extremely understanding and practical parents that have differing educational backgrounds. And regardless of what I ultimately decided, I knew they would support me and my choices. I ended up deciding on getting a nursing degree. I received my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. And then went on to take post graduate certifications to further my career. It has cost a freaking fortune. It has also taken an entire decade of my life.
Scott on the other hand, took a very different route. He was labelled a problem in high school by staff. He lacked “motivation” because he didn’t learn well in a traditional classroom setting.
I was actually held back after class by a teacher one day after about a month of dating Scott, and asked what I was doing with him. He was considered a “bad guy” because he wasn’t getting straight As.
…. Guess I should mention here that this particular teacher has now been charged with sexual misconduct…. But that’s a story for another day!
Little did they know, Scott knew exactly what he wanted while he sat in their classrooms. He was probably one of the most motivated there. He wanted to be a power lineman. He graduated high school on a Wednesday and went to work on Thursday morning. He secured an apprenticeship and actually made money while being taught to do something he was passionate about.
He now out earns me, he had no student debt when he finished his apprenticeship and his work is an essential part of keeping our society running. He is one of the smartest people I know, and I have nothing but respect for him.
So who was the “smart” one in this equation? The woman who racked up enormous student debt at university because that is what she was ‘supposed‘ to do? Or the man who was paid while learning to do something he was passionate about?
Our society is putting way too much emphasis on “levels” of education and what that means about people’s worth in this world. Having a university degree, college diploma, high school diploma, being a professional in a trade or being a high school drop out should not matter. There are many different types of intelligence and success. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you like what you do and are able to make an impact doing it.
We need to throw this unspoken hierarchy of education away. If you love traditional learning and WANT to pursue education, then that is wonderful and you should!! It is a great thing and this world needs people with your strengths and skill sets. But it is not the only path to success.
Success can be found going to university, going to college, getting into a trade or starting your own business from scratch with no formal education! That is what needs to be communicated to youths (ugh I am getting old AF). And your “intelligence” certainly can not be measured by which route you choose.
Trust me…. I’ve been to university. There are definitely a few mouth breathers milling about around those campuses.
The world is constantly changing and we are at a place right now where spending up to hundreds of thousands of dollars on education is becoming the norm AND what young people think is necessary to become successful. That is a scary thought.
So don’t be assholes or elitists. We all need each other. And we are all essential in making this society work.
Soooo, now I’ll just climb off my high horse and let you get on with your day.
P.S. This is not intended to bash anyone. I think I have made that clear? Ugh. So hard to make sure your actual intent will shine through on touchy subjects. My point is, do what you love and to hell with anyone who tries to slap a label on you because of it!
P.P.S. One last thought…. Why is education so freaking expensive. If it’s “necessary” than it shouldn’t be costing teenagers $50,000 and the rights to their first born child. Honestly. Okay. Rant over.