So, I don't post this kind of thing often on my blog here - the rant type of post. But I like to go off track once in a blue moon, and this is something that's actually still relevant to writing. In particular, it's relevant to all of you aspiring writers reading this that are still in school.
There are a couple of things I want to bring up, and to keep this as short as possible, I'm going to just jump right in:
I've seen some bloggers recently who were posting about how their school grades were affecting how they felt about a subject they loved. I frequently see posts talking about how they can't pursue an interest because they can't afford to go to college. I've talked in person to many kids who felt this way, too. I mean, we all have - it's not uncommon. Most of us have probably been these people, or still are. And it's understandable.
But it makes me sad seeing what school does to many kids' passions and interests. And confidence. It makes me sad that, in the age of information, everything still revolves around college, university, and that the majority of people feel that spending thousands of dollars, getting into debt, and earning a degree that guarantees them nothing - that these are the only ways to achieve their goals.
College is great. If you know for sure what you want to spend those years of your life studying, and you want the college experience, then it's something you should aim for. Definitely. But it ain't the only way anymore. There are even colleges that allow you to download their entire courses, for free. Don't believe me? Look what a quick Google search brings up:
- Numerous free and online opportunities provided by Stanford, Harvard
- And dozens of websites like Academic Earth that collect and list various available free or low-cost courses, colleges, and universities.
Maybe it isn't for you, though... Maybe you cringe whenever you're asked the infamous question, "Any college plans?"
You still have access to almost any kind of information your heart desires. I mean, you've got the entire Internet at your disposal! You've got good ol' libraries, bookstores, you've even got people out there willing to tutor you. Anything other than a prestigious college/uni education is looked at by many with scorn, but it's a ridiculous stigma in my eyes. Don't underestimate your opportunities here. Opportunities that you have control over. It's all there, you just have to find it.
And like I mentioned earlier - degrees look good on resumes. But they don't guarantee you a career. They don't guarantee you a good job.
I could blabber on for far too long about this stuff, so I'm going to get a move on here and turn my focus towards the other point I wanted to bring up, and school in general.
Similar to what I was saying above about college, some kids excel in the school environment. They know what they like, and it does amazing things for them. Others don't. Still others perform well, get great scores, but hate doing it. For the latter groups, this usually leads to them disliking, hating the very things that they used to be crazy about, and things that should be embraced instead of avoided - like the freaking learning process, for one.
They abandon their passions, are driven away from their interests because of +/- 12 years of material being forced down their throats, and grades telling them whether or not they were good enough in a subject. This is one of the biggest reasons why I'm not a fan of America's public education system (at the same time, I am thankful we have it; but there are plenty of things wrong with it).
I should note that I'm not one for the whole.. "don't give them Fs because it lowers their self-esteem" thing - that's not my issue with it. All that does, in the long run, is create easily-broken spirits (to put it, er, nicely). So, my message to those of you in this boat is not "you deserved better than that grade you got," it is not "grading should be abolished," or anything of that nature.
My message is: Don't let it stop you. Don't let your grades, good or bad, drag you down and away from anything. They aren't an accurate measurement of one's skills. They aren't. They're results from tests, and quizzes, and standards-based assignments that cannot completely measure your ability in a subject from a few multiple choice and short answer questions, and from specific, sometimes out there and useless, objectives. But they are information, and they can give you an idea of where you're at.
If you failed that writing course, or always fail your English papers, that really doesn't mean much. Maybe you needed to study more. Maybe you needed to try a bit harder. Maybe those papers always came up when you were sick and feeling absolutely awful, or maybe your heart just wasn't in it. There are a lot of factors that aren't shown in those scores. That isn't a legitimate reason to just disregard them, but it means that they aren't everything.
In the same way, your scores in school should never decide for you what you are going to become. Just think how many of the world's most brilliant minds were dropouts. Or self-taught. (If you're curious and need a place to start, research Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Dickens, Jim Carrey, David Karp...)
Appreciate the fact that you are able to attend school. Not everyone has that privilege.. Try to make the most of it, and don't just half-ass your way through your tests because I said scores aren't as important as they're made out to be. Just realize that there's more to it than that. "It" being.. well, name it. Everything.
School is as important as you want to make it. It's the knowledge that's valuable, and that knowledge is not only accessible within an institution's walls - it's everywhere. If you want to pursue something, go after it. Forget grades; they don't make you. Don't take your mandatory education for granted, but don't let it break you, either. Show the world what you can do - I guarantee it's quite a bit!