Educated Dropout

Educated Dropout

“I never let my schooling get in the way of my education.” -Mark Twain

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I am made up of contradictions; messy minimalist, skeptical spiritualist, capitalistic hippie, but by far the most controversial is that I consider myself an educated drop out.

No, I didn’t drop out of college, I dropped out of high school (gasp!) If I could do it over, I would have quit a year earlier (now just breathe). As always, when I reveal this information, I follow up with a disclaimer that I wasn’t doing drugs and I wasn’t pregnant.

The first question I get is, “What did your parents say?” Frankly, I don’t remember it even being a topic of discussion. My dad is a beloved high school teacher, now near retirement, and my mom instilled in me the passion of reading to learn from a young age. Thankfully they’re both intelligent enough to know, that being a high school dropout doesn’t mean you are destined to flip burgers, just like having a MBA doesn’t guarantee you a high profile job that you will love.

Pretty much everyone can agree that college does not equate to learning. We’re taught to believe that it’s just something you have to do to get a job. I’ve never had to lie about my lack of formal education. Most interviewers, supervisors, and suitors, just assume I have a degree, and when the topic eventually comes up, they think I’m kidding. I then get to explain that instead of paying someone to teach me, I took jobs, started businesses and got paid to learn the things I wanted to know instead.

People will argue, “Well what about the college experience?” To that I explain that I don’t feel like I missed out on the college experience, I dated the football star, hosted costume parties, went on spring break vacations, and lived on my own without cramming for finals, memorizing useless facts or racking up debt.

I believe 18 is way to young to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life, thus explaining the ridiculous amount of people who change majors, or go back to school. My advice is, if you think you might be interested in a field, go get a job doing that thing in an entry level position and get a feel for it while getting a paycheck as well. Then, if you love it, and it requires a college degree to advance in your chosen field, then go for it but only if the difference in your wage will be large enough to pay for your tuition.

10 Responses to Educated Dropout

  1. jeremiah says:

    After reading this you could look like Quasimoto and I’d still have a crush on you. There’s no greater turn on than a brilliant mind. If you weren’t so far away I’d scoop you up and take you out. That’s how smart a guy I am ;-)

  2. Dan Leavitt says:

    Interesting view. I must admit you make a pretty good point. I do think that we mislead our children when we feed them information about how college students make so much more than those who don’t go to college. Truth is if you want to work hard at any career and spend your money wisely you can be very comfortable and even get rich.

  3. Justin says:

    Ironic that I’m reading this, while I procrastinate writing 10 and 20 pg papers due a week ago. I’m envious of what you’ve done. After the typical K-12 education, 4 yr undergrad in Engineering (mostly useless to me now), 4 yrs military (2 yrs in schools, 6 months of Arabic), 5 going on 6 yrs of Seminary (2 degrees) – amazing I’m not completely broke (thx GI Bill), I’d encourage people to take time to work and figure out what they really like doing. It’s hard to know this without actually doing different things. And it’s hard to know where we fit in vocationally when local economies don’t really exist. In my case I hated the corporate jobs available to engineers out of college (lacking meaning) so I joined the military. There I hated the waste and inefficiency of a ginormous institution (and foggy mission), but given my surroundings I felt like a saint who was called to teach the heathens, so I got out and went to a seminary to pursue military chaplaincy. There I rediscovered why I pursued engineering in the first place. I don’t get my kicks out of writing 20 pg papers or speaking in front of large groups of people I don’t know. Now I’ve become interested in helping heal sick, obese, and drowning in debt people. Instead of reading theological treatises or re-learning Hebrew, I spend time trying to be an expert in areas like sustainable living, the economy, health and farming. I think all these areas merge into learning to live holistically off land while minimizing participation in our debt-based global money economy. I’ve come to conclude “finding our place” starts by going back to land-based, local economies where human participation in procuring resources and creating essential goods is maximized. Our debt, climate and healthcare problems are all tied to the same problem losing sight of our place as creatures who depend on healthy land and healthy neighbors to thrive. The rift the industrial revolution has helped facilitate between most people, the land and each other has sucked life out of many of us and the local cultures that inevitably would develop wherever we work and live.

    • kristiewolfe says:

      Well said Justin! (I’m applauding right now)

      There’s no doubt that you will influence a lot of people, there’s a lot of things about living simply that I find hard to articulate, I can tell you have gift for that :)

      Good luck on your journey.

      • Justin says:

        Thanks for reading and replying to (as I reread it) my rant. I’ll be checking back for ideas and for further convincing that a tiny house is a good way to go. I’m debating how to approach procuring land and avoiding debt as much as possible. I would much rather put money towards quality land than shelter at this point. After acquiring the right piece of land, i’d like to build a tiny house or some temporary shelter while saving money to finance a more permanent off grid home made of local materials like compressed earth bricks.

  4. Eric says:

    I enjoyed your commentary, as an educator I believe students must have available to them more choices, what I mean is that high schools should be giving students more opportunities to participate in internships, areas of interest that may provide future career prospects. It seems that in your situation you would have benefited greatly from this. While formal schooling isnĀ“t necessary for some, I believe there are others that benefit extensively from its structure,(i.e those who come from broken homes). You will definitely begin to see these changes take place as more students and parents grow tired of the current education system. May I add that you would make an amazing teacher Kristie, however, your outfit would distract heavily from student learning:)

  5. dusty wachtel says:

    Kristie – Reading your posts I see we are closely aligned on almost every point. I thought I was one of only a few! You are just the example I have been looking for to show my son the value of an education versus the useless pursuit of a college degree just for the sake of the degree. No one can say you are not educated and accomplished as your blog clearly illustrates a person with a passion for learning and doing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  6. Garth says:

    I agree. Everyone doesn’t learn the same way, or need a college education to be productive. Our two sons are very hard workers, but very different. One graduated Suma Cum Laude with his bachelor’s, debt-free because of scholarships and working so much while taking a full load. He’s working on his master’s now. The other son didn’t finish high school but has been in high demand for electrical, plumbing, and air conditioning, and now fixes client companies’ computer network problems. He was a terrible student, but has an innate ability to figure out technical and hands-on things on his own, quite the opposite of his student brother.

    In a past job, I hired a lot of electronics technicians and a few engineers, and I gave them all a little test, and I have to say I never found an applicant who learned to do even basic circuit design in school and calculate circuit values. I kept an editorial from one of the industry magazines about this, saying that the industry is telling the education establishment, “You are not turning out the kind of engineers we need. We need them to be able to do this, this, and this…” and the establishment responds, “Look, you know your field, and we know education. Leave the education to us, ‘kay?”, so the problem persists.

    Your post reminds me of the “Green Acres” TV series where Mr. Douglas wanted to be a farmer but his dad made him go to law school so he could get a “real” job, then at the law firm where he worked, he was growing mushrooms in his desk drawer, and at home, had corn growing on the balcony of his penthouse in NYC. Finally he buys a farm with a farm house that’s in terrible shape, and he’s out on his tractor in his suit, not dressed the part, but finally doing what he really wanted to.

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