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Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

So, over the Thanksgiving holiday I had a conversation with my sister about the importance of college.  It is really an ongoing conversation regarding the importance of getting a degree over starting your own business.  For example, Bill Gates is often brought up as a successful person who never went to college.  The irony of using Gates as an example is that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation may give more money to help students, especially minority students, go to college than any other foundation on the planet.  He even has a blog to encourage students to finish college (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/foundationnotes/Pages/bill-gates-101011-improving-college-completion.aspx).  Nonetheless, our conversation has got me thinking what is the value of a college degree?

The focus of the conversation over the holiday was my nephew, my sister’s youngest who recently graduated from high school.  He has an interest in videography and is making plans on how to break into some sort of video business.  My sister owns her own business and has probably not worked for someone else in 30 years.  I am a professor, so it should be no surprise to my readers that I am pushing my nephew to attend college.  It is interesting, in many ways I feel as if we are fighting for my nephew’s soul.   Who will win?  The promise of financial freedom? Or the tried and true stability of the promise of an education?  Inspired by our conversations, I have decided to write this blog.  What is the value of college education?

Independence.  One of the biggest lessons I learned in college was how to live on my own.  With the safety net of home and parents limited (eight hours away in my case), I could not just run home every time I needed help or was struggling.  I was forced to figure out things on my own, and these lessons were invaluable to my development, both emotionally and spiritually.  I do not think I truly learn about MYSELF until experiencing college and being on my own.

Multi-tasking.  While in college one must study, work (I worked 20-30 hours per week), socialize, and juggle other important miscellaneous activities and still be successful.  This is a skill that I can’t stress enough to its importance.

Social Skills.  I have never met a more variety of people than I did attending college.  My experience was especially diverse at Berkeley, my alma mater.  To this day I remember having amazing conversations with my atheist friend, Connie.  We would get into knock-down arguments over God and religion and then after go for lunch or dinner.  It taught me how important it was to have friends that thought differently than me.  This is something I think most people are missing from their lives.  Trust me, it is important.  I do not want to be surrounded by people who think just like me.  It is not enriching, nor growth inspiring.

Exposure.  You don’t know what you don’t know.  One of the largest advantages to college is to be exposed to different subjects and ideas.  There is no other forum that a person can take classes and talk with others about economy, history, science all on the same day.  When I entered college I was planning on becoming a lawyer, but through various experiences at Cal, I learned that I loved animals and started the pathway that I am currently on.  Most students change their majors multiple times, but it is their opportunity to explore that I think is most valuable.

Higher Probability for Success.  The fact is that most people require a Bachelor’s degree at minimum to obtain a successful job.  Is it possible to be successful without a degree, of course, but the Gates stories are rare.  Even owning one’s own business is a risky adventure.  Most businesses fail in the first two years.  In 2008, 15.5 million people claimed to be self-employed and their median personal marginal federal tax rate was 10 percent, which is an income range of $0 – $8,025.  Only 4.1 % of the self-employed were in the marginal tax bracket of 33% or more (Taxable income of 164,550-357,700 for 2010).  The bottom line: being successful via less traditional means has a lower probability of success.

Finish What you Start.  This is my number one reason for going to college.  It teaches you to finish what you start.  The reality is that a Bachelor’s degree is not special.  It will not prepare you for a job any more than anything else, but what it will do is show a potential employer that you can finish what you start.  Think about how important this skill is.  Can you think of people in your life that don’t finish what they start?  Of course you can.  It might even be you, but this is a crucial skill.  The ability to overcome adversity to finish a task can not be overlooked or underestimated.  Having a degree says something about a person, and that’s a fact. 

And no, it doesn’t have to be a degree.  But we are impressed by people with accomplishments.  And being the best at Call of Duty doesn’t count.  So, get your degree, it is a wonderful accomplishment, but more important it will teach many things along the way.  Is it the only way, of course not, but if you find yourself not doing much these days, or wondering what to do next, it is not a bad way to go and you just might learn something.  Because a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

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No matter what it is that you do, I hope you love it.  Do what you love and things will be alright.  I chose Berkeley because it had the most beautiful brochure of all the college material I got.  It wasn’t till after I got accepted to I realize that it was a good school.  Probably not the most intelligent way to pick a school, but it worked out and speaks to my personality.  I’m just sayin …

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So, I have decided that I love old dudes.  I don’t love naked old dudes (see Old, Fat and NUDE), but I do love old dudes.

It all started with a golf course.  I took golf lessons from a guy from a pro at a local 9-hole golf course about two years ago.  It is about 10 minutes from my house.  I enjoyed taking lessons from this guy so much, whenever I get a chance to play golf, I play at his course.  I have played there so much over the past two years that I am officially a regular.  When I enter the pro shop, I am greeted with a “Hey Brett, how is the new little girl?  Sleeping at night?”  As a matter of fact, before Violet was born, for two to three weeks I could not set foot on the course without someone driving their golf cart from another hole after seeing me from a distance (I am not difficult to spot from a distance on a golf course.  It’s like a Where’s Waldo for the blind.) just to ask if my daughter was born yet.  I never pay full price, and sometimes the pro will play a round with me just for fun and I get a free cart.  I am thinking about having my 40th birthday at this course.  I asked the manager about it, and he gave me my favorite line “It is normally 3-4 hundred bucks, but for you, 250.”

Is there a better sentence than one that ends in “…for you, we can do better.”  I love the hook up.  The bottom line is that I love special attention.  The cool thing is, I never ask for it.  If you know me, you know I would never walk into a place and ask everyone to be friends with me, but it just happens.  Interestingly, it happens for my son, Brett Jr. as well.  He hates talking to strangers, but everyone loves him.  It must be a gene.

I digress.  Now, prior to Violet being born, I made one promise to myself: To play as much golf as possible before her arrival.  Because I play on weekdays and usually early mornings, I played golf with a lot of old dudes.  Their average age is probably around 70.  I was even invited to play in their senior league on Wednesday mornings.  I could not commit every Wednesday, but on the days that I showed up, they placed me on a team that needed a player and I was welcomed with open, wrinkly arms.

As a result of my summer experiences and as recent as last week playing with an 80-year-old man, I have come to learn a few things about older men; not only do I love them, but old dudes don’t give a shit.

I am officially looking forward to turning 40 next year and beyond.  Oh to be as relaxed as an 80-year-old on a golf course.  Now that is something to wish for.  They just don’t care.  They are happy to be alive and happy to be playing golf.  They tell great stories and tell the truth about life in the most enjoyable way.  There is no doubt in my mind that I have played with some guys that used to be rich business men, CEOs, criminals, partially and/or fully racists, veterans, and in general crazy dudes when they were younger, but they have drunk the chill Kool-Aid and no longer give a care.  I love ‘em.

What is my favorite thing about them? They love to bad mouth women.  I don’t mean bad names, or degrading words, but the typical stereotypes of men versus women stories are classic.  I am not condoning bad mouthing women, but it is the freedom that they all share about their conversations.  It has made me come to one simple conclusion:  With freedom comes a cost.  You have got to be done with sex.  If you had no desire to ever have sex again, what thoughts in your head would you allow to see the light of day?  Think about it.  I love my wife, and I have a healthy fear of her on a regular basis, but I would never, ever let every thought that crosses my mind out of my head.  I am not stupid.  But what if I was done F#@king?  That’s right, freedom.  Welcome to the world of the old dude.  Say whatever the hell you want plus golf.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Old age here I come.

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One night I went to the fridge for milk and we were dangerously low.  We did have breast milk though.  Would it have been wrong?  I was also thinking, if I created a drink, like rum, whiskey and breast milk, who would drink it?  You know it would be a popular drink somewhere on this planet.  A weird twisted part of the planet, but it would be popular.  I’m just sayin …

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