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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 26, 2000)
1VT Tpri I ^ A weekly look at
_ lyJLMl J JUCJ a topic important to us_^
you kifow, graduation, it s a big deal and stuff.
What are you going to do with your
degree after graduation?
That was one of the last questions
on one of my numerous senior evalua
tions. I didn’t feel like contriving an
academic, university-friendly wording
of “I have no freaking idea,” so instead
I went with the most simple and true
answer I could:
Put it in a frame and hang it on the
The truth is, I don’t know if I’m
going to use my degrees for my career.
In fact, I’m almost positive I’ll never
list “Broadcaster” or “Political
Scientist” in the occupation box of my
1040. And I think that’s all right.
* * *
Most of us came to school in an
already brainwashed mindset. Our par
ents and teachers trained us that college
is simply the next step in life.
We’ve always been told we’re sup
posed to be something when we grow
up. Be a doctor. Be a lawyer. But just be
something for 35 years of your life.
So for years we lay in our beds at
night, staring at the ceiling, thinking
about what we should be. We did fifth
grade research projects to explore
potential careers. We gave speeches in
junior high about what we wanted to do
when we finally grew up. And we
wrote essay after essay for college
scholarships about what the university
would help us be.
And for all of those years We were
scammed. All of our heroes and men
tors duped us into thinking that if we
didn’t come up with careers that our
lives would cease. We are locked into
this system of monotony and repetition,
focused on stability and assurance.
Our lives are but pegs in a board,
ready to be moved up notch by notch
until we die. They implied that if some
one were to graduate without a plan for
life that he’d be shunned from society,
forced to live as a hermit by the railroad
tracks, living off berries and twigs.
Well, here we are, without life
plans. But we aren’t hollowing out
caves by the tracks just yet.
We didn’t come here for a degree.
We didn’t sign up for a four-year train
ing session for some kind of certificate
to cash in at an employer. If you did,
you should go home. Now.
xi yuu warn yuux cuuuauuxx iu
assure you a job in a field, then go to a
trade school. The university is not a
machine to spit out robot teachers, uni
form scientists, cookie-cutter engineers
or identical businessmen.
Hopefully we came to college for
the right reasons. We wanted to learn.
That’s why the university is here: to
give us a well-rounded education about
the world. To think critically and devel
op distinct ideals and theories on life.
Life is “The Matrix” until college.
This sickening, repulsive system of
life plans and career paths engrosses us
so tightly that we know nothing else.
We look at our future and can only
think of the two cars and picket fence.
We lie motionless in sacs of fluid
advice from every direction. We are
in fields and
fields of others
that do the same,
each of our minds
attached to a main
frame - the conven
Whether or not we can
admit it, the moves we make
aren’t even our own.
Unless we take the red pill.
We decide that we don’t
need to declare a major when
we’re high school juniors. We
don’t need to meet with our
advisor to make sure we are
taking classes that fit into each
degree category. We can take
less than fifteen hours and the
world won’t come crashing
We can breathe.
We can forget about a
major, requirements and a
degree. We can actually take
classes that look interesting.
We can get internships that
sound fun. We can remember
that class time is only a small
part of college. We can get
off campus and out of town,
this state and the country. We A
can meet people that don’t 4
think like us and learn from
them. We can learn from
When it’s time to gradu
ate, don’t get hysterical
about a job. Don’t kick
yourself for having a use
less major. Your degree is
only worthless if you use it
how it is supposed to be
used. Keep thinking and
learning and discovering
for the rest of your life.
Of course we need
food, water and shelter to
live, and our degrees will
help us get those basic
things. But the degree just
means that you’ve already
lived - by becoming an
independent person with
your own thoughts and
your own mind.
ii you want to oe mm
obsessed with require- flF
ments and degrees and *
jobs because of finances
or success or security -
fine. You obviously uBBr
chose the blue pill. W
Keep on living for your
next meal, car or house.
But if you’re really
going to live, forget
about the major, the job
and the degree.
Because in the end,
that degree is going
to do nothing but
hang on the wall.
for that piece
A lot of people do not
belong in college. They’ve been
coaxed by peer pressure or by
parents and are only now slowly
realizing they won’t be here
Sometimes it takes the
tuition bill paying for sub-par
grades to convince parents their
children aren’t college material.
But there’s no problem with
that. College isn’t for every
body. In fact, I think it should
be for a relatively few people.
According to the UNL Fact
Web site, out of the 5,000 fresh
men who matriculate here, only
3,300 will return for their soph
omore year, just more than 66
percent. Some of those who
didn’t make the first cut are
truly better off in a trade school
or entering the labor force
My cousin, who is the same
age as I am, just finished a two
year technical course in electri
cal engineering and is now
making $15 an hour. Within
three years he’ll be making
more than $40,000 a year.
I’ll never come close to
making that much money, not
unless I get a master’s degree in
College was originally a
place of higher learning, where
one developed intellectual
interest above personal and pro
That’s why I came here, and
that’s what I’ve been doing for
the past five years. That’s why
my cousin didn’t come here,
because he’s not an intellectual
and didn’t need this kind of
“higher learning” to succeed in
I respect that, and, in tact,
envy it at times.
The commercialization of
education in the last 25 years
has changed all of this. I’m not
sure exactly how it happened,
but somehow the universities
bought out the trade schools
and began to appeal to society
My grandparents remember
many people going straight to
tech schools after high school.
I don’t know anybody who
did except my cousin. Now,
almost 50 percent of high
school grads spend at least a
year in college.
Whether you’re a liberal arts
student, or whether you came
here for any practical, business
or vocational reasons, there are
a few things that you can do to
increase your chances of mak
ing it through college to gradua
If you don’t know why
you’re here, you might want to
save yourself some time and
money and not register for
You’d be doing yourself a
favor, and the community here
that is genuinely interested in
learning and tired of hearing
you whine about your home
work also would appreciate it.
If you came to college as a
liberal arts student, like I did,
(i.e., interested in any of the
social or natural sciences, arts
or writing) you need to have
One of your majors needs to
be the field in which you are
personally interested. For me,
that was Anthropology and
Social Thought/Theory. That
should help keep you interested
in your classes and maintain a
Warning, do not major in
three liberal arts areas as I did;
you will soon see that simply
combining useless things (how
ever personally fulfilling) cre
ates a useless whole. That’s
more or less been the response
I’ve received from the compa
nies to which I’ve applied.
For vour second major.
study something useful. Even if
you’re a complete radical anar
chist and see no signs of
decreasing your rebel move
ment against society, taking a
year’s worth of courses in some
thing useful will eventually pay
off down the road when you’ve
given up on your movement and
are financially forced to assimi
late into mainstream America.
This second major should
be in the college of engineering,
or in CBA. Despite how much I
despise classes in these fields, it
will really pay off when you’re
23, in debt, jobless and home
less (as I’m about to be).
If you’re not a liberal arts
major (one of the reasonable
minded individuals who told
me when I was a freshmen that
I would be broke and jobless), it
could still help if you major in
something you find fulfilling or
that’s not in your area of expert
It never hurts to be well
rounded and a major in English
or communications; and it just
might make you more mar
If you don’t find yourselves
fitting any of these hats, you’re
not the only one. It doesn’t
mean you’re stupid. Certainly
the 34 percent of the students
who didn’t make it after their
first year aren’t stupid; it just
proves that not everyone
Go to a trade school, a tech
nical school or something else
that might fit you better.
If you feel that you do
belong here, stick it out and get
your dual degree.
Double major in one useful
field and another one that’s ful
filling. You’ll probably be more
personally satisfied and better
prepared to enter the real world
I wish I would have done
J.J. Harder is a senior political sci- m
ence and broadcasting major and a «
Daily Nebraskan columnist
David Baker is a senior African studiesf
anthropology and sociology major and a Daily
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