Theory of higher education doesn’t match reality

By Linze Griebenow

College students are in a perpetual state of motivational fatigue, and with good reason.

The current political, economical and social climates serve as the perfect breeding ground for an anomic crisis, a constant state of feeling adrift and unsure. From the time we are born, it is predicted what we will become as adults. People fantasize about their dream jobs and are socialized throughout their upbringing and into their post-high school years to nurture and achieve those dreams.

However, when the unemployment rate in Illinois is ranked at number 44 out of 51 with 9.8 percent, I’m not the least bit surprised when I see my classmates stoned and headed to work rather than on their way to a lecture.

Frequently I hear from my friends and others who say they’d rather take a break from school and work right now, there are no jobs anyway and they would rather save the cash than continue to pay almost criminal prices at educational institutions.

Because we expect ourselves, and are expected by others, to reach a certain level of academic, occupational and personal success during a time of depressive economic and social circumstances, our generation is unique. We are working from within the confines of a loop that forces us to spend money to go to college and get a degree so that we may work the rest of our lives to pay off the debt we acquired in order go to college and get a degree. To add salt to our wounds, NIU students live in a state that could not possibly care less about education and offers few jobs that one might consider worth spending $50,000 to get a degree for.

Our dreams of becoming investigative journalists or respected teachers have become unrealistic. We begin to realize that what is available in reality is in gross disconnect with what we aspire to be with our identities.

That then begs the question, why are we going to school at all?

Our teachers berate and publicly bully us into religiously attending and enthusiastically participating in time-waster credit hours as if we aren’t going to end up using our degrees to work at Starbucks anyway.

Our parents push us to get part-time jobs and second jobs on top of our full course-load and scrutinize us for being lazy. The truth is that we’re emotionally and mentally exhausted.

The detachment between what we feel we are destined to be, what we dedicate our time and education to and the real world is so grossly askew that we are left in an environment that allows the unmotivated and burnt-out college student to flourish.

Although it pains me to admit, even my own resistance against the education-labor cycle is futile at this point.

The myth of college as a means to “better one’s self” or get a well-paying job you like is just that, a farfetched reflection of American’s warped sense of individualism.

The stoned kid on the way to work may get a low attendance grade, but at least he is enjoying himself.