Five Year Drought

Man, online school takes a lot of time. After graduating back in 2015 with my Bachelor’s, I didn’t imagine I’d be headed back in school. I thought I had what I needed to succeed, but I’m finding that’s not the case. It’s an interesting breakdown in my mind, approaching the concepts of school and education in our world today. I want to share some of my thoughts on this, particularly, and I’d love to hear yours.

A couple of years ago, I was engaged in a lesson with a youth group and a few leaders. The gentleman in charge of that particular lesson chose to teach the kids about a plan, education and approaching the hard choices of career and work. But it wasn’t traditional at all, and I—somewhere around 30 or 31—learned a lot from the lesson myself.

The critical moment that changed the lesson’s dynamic came when this leader asked, “I want to ask the other leaders something. Are you guys at the point in your life you thought you’d be when you were there age (12-17).” I’m smiling as I write this, because every single one of us, without hesitation, said, “No.” We laughed in a way that bespoke a certain sadness at the fact, but it was also lighthearted and honest. We were where we were, but it’s impossible not to wonder what if.

Then this leader asked, “How many of you pursued higher education or got an advanced degree?” If I’m remembering correctly, maybe 75% of us said we had. “How many of you are currently employed in the area you got your degree?” Perhaps less than a quarter said they were. The leader then turned to the boys and said, “It’s important to make a plan or a guide for your life, but you also have to acknowledge that life won’t always go according to that plan.”

For all that I already knew this, the manner of the lesson reaffirmed this truth to me. Plans are something we’re all engaged in to some capacity, and the professional world loves to work at figuring what they can control and dictate. But how many of us actually fell into the plan we made entirely? Or how many times does life cater to what we’ve decided will happen?

I already know the answer, so let’s leave this as a rhetorical question.

This initial lesson presentation represents the first half of my outlook on education and the glaring political and social red tape that we’ve allowed to wrap around our ankles, knees, and thighs.

Over many years, I have learned the hard way that the professional world wants their employees to possess all the experience before getting hired so they can reap the benefit without spending time investing. The professional world claims to hire based on skill-set, degrees, and experience, but with how polarizing the social climate of our society is, businesses will undermine these important facets to hire for diversity instead of ability, or on the other extreme, to play favorites and take care of their own before hiring the more qualified individual. 

I find it sad that a person’s quality fails to achieve the same status as all the physical traits we just can’t seem to get over. It makes absolutely no sense why we can’t wrap our heads around hiring the right person for the job despite gender, race, orientation, or any of the other plethora of categorical descriptions. 

In my eyes, our world has devolved into one of walking on eggshells, arrogance, ignorance, and sad resignations. It’s like the original Febreze product…they created something that eliminated and removed the smells instead of covering them up, but that product didn’t really have a scent. No one bought it or wanted to buy it. Like a smart business, they readjusted and presented the world with their line of “smell-good” scents that everyone loves. They still claim to remove the stink, but the perfume plays a more prominent part now than merely getting rid of the nasty odors. (http://www.behaviouraldesign.com/2016/06/07/how-the-worlds-best-marketer-got-it-wrong-but-eventually-got-it-right/#sthash.VagOzcAD.dpbs)

It’s not enough that the product worked beautifully the first time. The general public wanted a sense of reassurance that their efforts and money were worth the product, so the reward of a pleasant smell soon became more important than the removal of the bad one. This is how I’m beginning to view the education system.

I imagine some of you are asking, “Well, Bryce, if you have such a strong view against the system, why are you back in it?”

I’m glad you asked.

During the latter part of the lesson, some of the instructors began sharing their frustrations about time and money wasted on something (education, most of the time) they weren’t using, almost like it culminated into a grand waste of time that gave them nothing. As soon as this perspective was shared, I had an immediate mind shift, thinking, “No education, or form of learning, is useless. We may not actively use it at the moment, but gaining more knowledge, wisdom, experience, or know-how can only help a person along in life.”

This is why I’m back in school. Because when I try something initially, that doesn’t pan out, it’s time to readjust and acquire new skills, learn new procedures, and embark on new adventures. Yes, while I’m not using my previous degree at all, that was a sound educational decision that’s done me well up to now. If I allow that degree to waste away and become pointless, then that’s on me. It’s not on the world, or the system, or businesses, or Lucifer…that’s on me.

I personally love school. I love the value of education in that I think more dynamically, engage in life more actively, have tangible interactions with myself and the world around me, and become more equipped to tackle the next thing.

I only help my future by learning.

Now, something I’d like to share about going back to school is that I’ve looked at it for over a year. I was preparing the GRE in 2019, but I lost energy and focus when I learned that the institution where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree is no longer accredited. It was when I started back in 2012, but due to the school’s delinquent management, they lost their accreditation. 

I looked at Master’s programs, hoping to take what I’d already earned and go further. Ha! Surprise surprise, no one but online institutions would take my degree. And it wasn’t like a gray area thing…no, this was that no physical, tried-and-true university or college would consider my degree in their programs. Still, so many online schools would not only take it but also ignore whether the accreditation mattered.

This sucks, guys. Learning that all my successful efforts in a previous arena are ignored purely over politics cut me off at the knees. I stopped studying for the GRE and didn’t think about school for another year. The sad thing is, I knew I needed to be back in school.

I used to harbor this irrational fear of returning to school. I believe most of that fear stemmed from a lot of the observation and experience I shared in this blog, but I also sense something deeper I haven’t discovered yet. No one likes to double-down and invest in something that ultimately gets thrown back in their face, but we don’t know the future.

I had to face my fear, stop complaining, and take the plunge. Now I’m at the bottom of the totem pole pursuing a future in Architecture. I’m working on an Associate’s Degree that will help me apply and earn a spot in a Bachelor’s program somewhere. While my pride took a hit, I don’t mind it so much anymore. I’m back in an environment where I’m learning and growing.

This last summer semester was all online. The summer at this university is broken into two blocks, and I jumped into the second one. I took four full classes, online (this means the timeline is sped up), in half the time due to the block format. This is why I haven’t been blogging.

But I loved it, and I’m looking forward to more. I’m excited to share, eventually, why I chose Architecture. You may find that interesting considering my previous degree is in Film and Video Production.

Onward and upward! Please leave your thoughts and comments, and I’ll get back with you!

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