Why the system does not work


It took me an extra year to finish high school and my school counselor, George Hammer, talked me out of going straight into college to study education because he told me there was no future in it. So instead, I spent a year pushing my liver to its limits and bedding any girl that would let me so I could get over the heartbreak of my high school sweetheart who had left me because I had already started the bedding even before she was gone from my life.

After a year of this, I decided to go to Missouri Western State College. When this all began, it was 1992 and I was 20 years old with fire in my soul and ravenous beasts in my pants. I had no major, no direction and was saddled with a temporary advisor who I never saw past the day I signed up on late registration. By 1994, I had failed out of college. No one’s fault but my own, I know, but I was young and every night it seemed there was a party that lasted until sunrise and another skirt for me to chase down the path of irresponsibility. In time, I was suspended and left out in the cold with a student loan that needed repaying.

For a while, I dropped off the grid and wandered the world learning about the life they don’t teach you in college. In time, the IRS had seized enough of my income tax returns to pay off my defaulted loan. In time, life happened to me full force. I loved, I learned and I lived by my own terms.

When I decided to give up my nomadic ways in my late twenties, I settled in St. Joseph close to my family. I started a family of my own. I took up the trade of a bartender and quickly realized how counter productive it was to stable parenting. By the time my son was in the third grade, I decided to go back to school myself. That is when I discovered the Griffon News.

Since then, it has been a love/hate relationship of epic proportions for me. After two semesters of being just another staffer taking ENG 210 who realized that these suckers would let me write my most inane and audacious words, I ended up as the new opinions editor. From there, I rose to EIC and crashed back to staffer only to end up with another two semesters as opinions editor. I raised the standard to two weekly pages of opinions. Every week, no matter what, I poured my heart and soul into those two pages and I know that there are those out there who love me for it.

For those of you who I can call fans, I am sad to say that I may not be back next semester. I no longer am getting financial aid and being a single dad is hard enough without trying to dedicate yourself to working full-time and going to school part-time. The truth is I have failed a class or three along the way and also took too many classes that have nothing to do with my major. I know that sooner or later they are going to give me the boot just like when I was a dumb kid.

In my defense, these last three years have been the hardest years of my life. I lost two great family matriarchs, I spent over a year wracked with testicular pain that ended in a surgery that left me with scars that sometimes still hurt today. I survived a car crash and swine flu. I went through the break up of a 12-year relationship. I am ending this three year cycle with a lung fungus that robbed me of my voice. Like I said, it hasn’t been easy, but through all this, every week except for this one, I brought you two pages of quality opinions. I made you laugh, made you mad, sometimes even touched your heart and I always told the truth.

All my life, people have told me that college is all about showing that you can work within the system, that you can jump through the right hoops and follow the rules. When most people don’t even end up working in the field which they majored in, and people wonder “why do I need algebra when I am going to be historian?” It really does show that colleges have become nothing more than indoctrination centers for the new citizens of the machine.

Some people were not meant to succeed by jumping through hoops. I have too many credits that do not go toward my degree, too many philosophy and sociology courses that I thought would be fun to learn about. Despite that these classes added to my greater knowledge of the world, Missouri Western frowns upon them because they do not help me graduate quick enough to look good on paper.

Soon I may be a college drop out yet again, a sad loser destined to work in the bottom feeding world of consumer service for minimum wage while trying to pay off a loan that leaves me even poorer. Anyone who reads my words senses the potential I have, but because I have trouble with things conventional I may not be able to complete my degree. Sure, most people thrive as members of the herd, but some shine only when they can follow their own path, but the system has no place for individualists, and that is why the system doesn’t work.

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