As of the writing of this post I am currently considering going back to school to get my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. While I will ultimately most likely decide that it is worth it for me, as someone who has been disillusioned by the higher education system for the better part of eight years, the reality of the contemplation of such a decision is causing somewhat of an existential crisis.
Like do I really want to put myself in more debt? My transcripts are certainly not good enough to get me into UCLA, so why bother searching out any other subpar program? The trajectory of my life diametrically opposes one that reflects a career in the field of research, so why even exhaust myself trying to climb that latter? Also, while Dr. Ken has a beautiful ring to it, I am not pretentious enough to force everyone around me to call me that, and ultimately who outside of me would really care?
You see, growing up my father in particular (my mother passed away when I was 5) was not one of those parents who “encouraged” school beyond high school. Yes, I am sure it was a value of his being that he graduated from college himself, but also if I ended up not going, it would not have been the end of the world. Like just about everyone else my age, college was something that was “forced” on me by my guidance counselors in high school mainly.
They saw the value in it, and they made me see the value in it. Growing up I would go to all these college fairs, “Day in The Life”, and sleep away college events, immersing myself in my potential future. And while all those things were admittedly fun, they did not properly prepare me for the reality of elitism within higher ed institutions.
No one prepared me for the reality of a Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, Duke, UCLA, Stanford, etc. No one said to me “hey if you want to go to college, these are the school and programs you should be striving for”. Not necessarily because they were fundamentally better which obviously they are, but because if you do not go to one of them, then college practically does not matter and is for all intents and purposes a money grabbing scheme. I am not saying that I did not go to good schools, Rowan, and Fairleigh Dickinson are no slouches, but they are not making any big splashes either.
I guess my disillusionment with college stems from how it was advertised to me. As you could imagine by now, I did not grow up in the most luxurious environment. So, while college was seen as important, its importance stemmed from the fact that it could get me out of an unfavorable situation.