Friday, June 29, 2012

"40 Alternatives to College" and an Odd Day

      Yesterday was a rather odd day. It was at least 102 degrees by mid-afternoon, I was outside most of the day, and I didn't get to sleep until after 11 pm. Something is quite wrong with me. I used to be in bed by 9 pm sharp and nodding off quickly, and then again I'd be up at 6 o'clock as well. Nowadays, I'm up by 8 and in bed at 10 or later attempting to sleep. I'm not sure what happened really. I blame my husbands knack for sleeping late and staying up later. Well, that and the fact that it appears everyone in this house enjoys sleeping well past 7 am. I just hate having to tip toe around the house to keep from waking anyone.
      Yesterday could also be due to the fact that I had a cup of coffee for the first time in about a week. Nevertheless, I woke up at 7:30 am and started my less-than-half-Primary practice. The flies were BRUTAL out and it was ridiculous. Made for a hard time concentrating inward and paying attention to my breath. The beginning of the practice was spectacular. I finished my Surya Namaskara A & B without much deviation. When I began the rest of the practice, my concentration wavered and I just wanted it to be over. Especially, once I arrived at "Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose" because I just couldn't keep my balance. Ugh. I felt like the woman in the photo.

      After doing working outside though, I decided I would read a book that I wanted to read for just the sake of reading. My choice..... 40 Alternatives to College By James Altucher. Now, I know what you all are going to say, I can hear it now. "College is necessary to having a good job and a fulfilling life," and James takes 36 pages of writing to explain his reasonings for not going to college right out of high school. Very convincing argument I might say. Definitely made me wish I could go back to being 18 and do things differently. Then I remembered, I didn't go to college right out of high school!! I went in to the military and THEN went to college. His choices for alternatives would have been much more fun and less stressful I believe, but then again I am who I am because of my choices.
      James starts his book off answering questions in the chapter "Why Don't Send Your Kids To College?" He gives his speech to both kids and parents as an attempt to explain his reasoning. James went to college and has the ability to give his explanation. He's been in debt from colleges, experienced what he "didn't learn" in college, and therefore, is pretty much the best person to hear this from. It may seem scary, because everyone believes that without college people won't have a fulfilling life or even money to live.
      Honestly, even though researchers say that college graduates make more money than their non-college graduate counterparts I have to say something. They may make more but they also have to pay for more. Colleges are jacking up their prices (as noted by James in his book) and the availability for grants or scholarships is going down tremendously. You have to make a certain amount of money in order to apply for grants and if you surpass this amount (no matter what) then your chances of being awarded are slim to none.
      Moving on, James dictates his reasoning for writing the book. He wants to inform others of their options for a happy life OUTSIDE of college. People sit in classrooms at college that usually have nothing to do with their major or specialty, and basically, is just a waste of time and money. After classes, if you choose to study then that's you, most students tend to party, drink, and have sex. That is life. Deal with it. Your precious little papoose is going to college and will no longer be under your watchful eye. They will do many things you don't approve of. James makes all of this quite clear in his book as well.
       He also goes over the true costs of college. The numbers are astronomical. "The average tuition cost is approximately $16,000 per year. Plus assume another $10,000 in living costs, books, etc. $26,000 in total for a complete cost of $130,000 in a 5 year period (remember, across the country the average amount of years spent in college is five years)." This just seems down right ridiculous but it is so true. Luckily for me, most of my education is paid for by the military. Lucky me, not so lucky for everyone else. Sadly though, even though I've had tremendous help from the military I am still $30K in debt so far. You might ask how, and honestly I'm still trying to figure it out but I have acquired it.
       The reasons that James lists for why people say kids should go to college are laughable. Not in the sense that they are wrong, but on the contrary, for the fact that they are so true. 1) Socialization, 2) Learn to think, 3) College grads make more, 4) The point to life is not making money, 5) Experiences, 6) Parents are scammed, and there you have it. The title said 10 reasons but he only wrote 6 but those 6 are quite enough. If you need to send your kid to college for socialization, they are probably past hope, but feel free to spend your money on that "education".
      Next list he posts deals with things he didn't learn in college. The first and foremost is the fact that he didn't learn to program computers, which is horrifying since his major was computer programming!!! But really, think about it. How often do graduates need on-the-job training AFTER graduating from college? It's pretty often. Think about it. Nurses... they have to do a YEAR or two of residency before being released on their own. Why do you think that is??? They might give them the understanding of how a human body looks and potentially what to look for but you can't teach how to work in a hospital from a classroom. Go ahead and say it, "they have clinicals" and that is true, but how often do they get to work by themselves rather than being watched keenly by an overseer? They don't, their moves are scrutinized and even graded. The real world has no grades. You won't get a B- for forgetting something. In the real world the grading system is Pass/Fail, and if you mess up it is a definite Fail.
      Off my soap box and onto another part, the alternatives! This list is pretty long but I was quite surprised by it actually. I expected it to be a list of career options for those candidates who choose not to attend college, but what it is instead is a list of things to do before making decisions regarding college. Of the 40 on the list, I found 10 that I would actually be interested in. James said that all of these aren't for everyone and that ultimately you should make your own list of alternatives.
    My 10, though are these, 1) Start a Business, 2) Travel the World, 3) Create Art, 4) Write a Book, 5) Master a Game, 6) Master a Sport, 7) Take up Yoga, 8) Learn and Master a Foreign Language, 9) Become a Model, 10) Hike the Appalachian Trail. All of these have been thoughts in my mind at some point. Some I have done and some I've attempted. I'd love to start a business but the idea of what to start hasn't come to my mind yet. Traveling the world takes money, and right now I have a baby to think about so that has put a damper on that one but I will revive it soon. Creating art... I need to learn to use my camera and I will get right on this one. Writing a book—I will start this one as soon as my senior seminar is over in July. Number 5 & 6 are lower on the priority list right now. I've begun to take up yoga so I'm on my way to mastering that one (at least attempting to). Learning a foreign language.... I need to finish Spanish first and then I'll move on to maybe Italian. Number 9 & 10 are far fetched, but nice thoughts. :) Maybe I'll find a good photographer to help me put a portfolio together to send in to places that need models or hire them. Who knows. As far as the AT goes.. that is a six month trip I will have to wait to complete.

James Altucher, everyone, has many books out there besides this one. I'm working on I Was Blind But Now I See, but am getting to it slowly because I'm cracking down on my senior paper right now. You guys can find his books on Amazon or on the his blog site that is linked to his name above. He is very interesting and his lived quite a life, take the time to explore his site.

Bon voyagé!

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