Take A Walk on Your Own Side

True Paths Toward Success

Today, on my car's AM radio station, the talk show host yammered on per usual, but suddenly I became aware that he was absolutely "singing my tune!" I heard him saying, "...today, in our public schools, the division of good students and bad students is growing and there is no middle ground." He mentioned that this educational division can be used as an analogy to describe the economic situation occurring in America today. He explained, "The middle class is becoming either wealthier or poorer... usually poorer. The middle class is disappearing just as the average student is disappearing. In schools, this division is created by the existence of Advanced Placement classes..."

I heard him exaggerating the truth of the matter, but I did agree with some of his points: "... in AP classes, students are loaded up with six hours of homework a night. I am very happy that my girls are in "remedial" classes," he explained, "because they have less homework and therefore are able to 'have a life!' There is so much pressure for these AP high school students to get high grades in order to get into ivy league universities." Then he proclaimed, "My girls are going to junior college! There is NOTHING wrong with junior college!"

And it is true! In California, tuitions for these JCs are very low: $48.00 a unit. Here, a student, anywhere from 14 to 21 years, whether he has graduated from high school or not, can explore a wide variety subjects, learn at his own pace, and follow his own direction. By living at home, the financial expenses and risks are less. In fact, if he pays for his own education he will value it more and work harder to earn good grades. JCs foster recovery from the effects of the tyranny of high school by offering so many choices. In my case, I satisfied a craving to take as many art classes as I could. Later, I settled down to work and earned an Associate of Arts degree and two years worth of units toward a four year education. I look back fondly on those days and consider them better in many ways than my university days. The classes were smaller, the teachers more personally involved, and counselors easier to access.

Diving headlong into a university education generally provides a much different experience. Here, one's very serious education must be supplemented with craziness! Parties serving gallons of alcohol provide the necessary therapy to ease the frazzled nerves caused by the "gun to the head" type pressures introduced at this level. A friend of my son's made it through the university program, received his law degree and passed the bar. It was not easy, but he did drag himself over the finish line. However, he crossed over with more than he bargained for... an addiction to heroin. Eventually, he almost died, hitting rock bottom, a couple years later. He has since climbed a hard road nearer to "normallacy", but thanks to the pressures placed upon him by his father, his schools and consequently, himself, he may never really get back to that place.

The goal, however, should always be to land an interesting career. It used to be that getting a degree or two guaranteed a good job and the ability to earn a decent living which traditionally included either retirement benefits or a pension. However, when I was employed as a gallery attendant at a local museum, I realized that this once possible dream is over. Many young adults I worked with could find nothing else to do with their degrees in Political Science, Philosophy, Art, English, History, etc! I felt so sorry for them as we all stood at our posts hour after hour, day after day, basically wasting our talents and potentials. (Gallery attendants don't have to be treated like pieces of wood, as they are at this museum, but that is another story.) Due to student loans, living expenses, etc., these young people felt compelled to endure an impossibly boring and unfulfilling job. (Believe me.)

In the end, one is either forced in earning money, or fulfilled in earning it. But, we should never be afraid to to discover or indulge our true interests, at our own pace, no matter what we think the future holds. By pursuing what truly interests us, we can carry ourselves along on personal paths toward success and fulfillment. To the youth I say, Your Life is up to You. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Yes, you have to make money to survive, and you must pay your way through life. But, for goodness sake, do it Your way and stay in touch with your inner self. Hopefully in this day and age, with so many enlightened parents, I am preaching to the choir. I truly enjoyed Steve Job's graduation speech, ("stay hungry" on Utube) and highly recommend it to anyone.

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Comments 8 comments

Cyrus K profile image

Cyrus K 5 years ago

One of the best ways to pursue a career is become unattached to the consequences of not having it, then pursue it 'just to do it'. Just my opinion, anyway. ~~ C.K.

Kathryn L Hill profile image

Kathryn L Hill 5 years ago from LA Author

Then, I guess there would be less stress, expectation, striving and anticipation to point of nervous exhaustion. Calmness in life is important for focusing. There are three types of good: That which is for the sake of itself. That which is for the sake of something else. The highest good is that which is for the sake of itself and something else.

Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 5 years ago from Thailand

Voted up and interesting.

It is my opinion that everybody should have a short break between finishing school and going to university (preferably working a couple of years), as most young people have no real idea of what they want to be in future. If you can find what you like, then work becomes enjoyable rather than just a way to get paycheque.

Kathryn L Hill profile image

Kathryn L Hill 5 years ago from LA Author


That Grrl profile image

That Grrl 4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

University education is not practical for anyone who actually wants to get out there and support themselves. Many of the courses/ programs seem to be about boosting self-importance rather than practical knowledge.

I went to community college, lived at home, took the bus to college every day and even worked while in school to try to keep in budget. It was a lot to do and I did end up dropping out my last semester because I just could not keep all the balls in the air.

Still, I ended up working and years later I'm actually using my college education in my career. My sister went to university and ended up at community college to become a dental assistant. Now she works in a dental office where they love her for her managing of collections especially. She had to borrow money from my brother to pay for her university education. He gave her a decent rate and more time to pay it. My brother went to community college for property management. He has ended up buying, fixing and selling properties and has a wonderful income from selling and renting the properties in between.

We don't know where we will end up. But, community college seems to be a start on a real path versus something that costs a fortune and leaves you drowning in debt without anything you can start as a real job right away.

Kathryn L Hill profile image

Kathryn L Hill 4 years ago from LA Author

I'm glad to have met you, too!

Bella Sames profile image

Bella Sames 11 months ago

Hit the nail on the head in pointing out the segregation that there is in schools, and how it mirrors society from the outside. I believe that the system is starting to rust, and people are noticing it... we aren't taught how to live alternatively because schools are there to decipher between the money makers and the poor.

I agree "Your Life is Up to You". Life is up to everyone and their choices make their life, but if we only know one way of life then how can we ever change? If our choices at a young age is always within a certain boundary then how can we ever have progress?

Kathryn L Hill profile image

Kathryn L Hill 11 months ago from LA Author

I agree. It starts with those who quietly perceive more and don't care about following "society" so much. What is society compared to one's own inner life? we can all help each other tune in where something is really going on and work to harmonize for the good of all.

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