Thursday, September 21, 2006

Premature Matriculation

An article in the Post yesterday discussed a local 18-year-old student who managed to graduate from UVA in one year with a double major . He was able to accomplish this by taking 72 hours worth of AP credits in high school, and plans to finish graduate school in a single year as well. Not surprisingly, this guy came from the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology -- I can think of maybe two students from T.C. Williams who might have attempted this and they both would have burned out and become potheads by year two.

Now I admit that I wasn't a collegiate lollygagger in my day (I took sixteen to nineteen credits a semester and two classes every summer to finish my double major in an awe-inspiring five years) but I think this kid's case is just ridiculous. All too often, schooling is directly correlated with how many subjects you learn, completely omitting the social aspects of it. Schooling is not just about the number of pages you assimilate by graduation time -- if it was, most dedicated people could easily finish in a matter of months versus years.

The duration of school is a critical part of the equation and crucial to your growth as a functioning member of society. By following the established timeline for primary education and college, you are learning about yourself and how to interact on a daily basis with the rhubarbheads you will share the world with for the remainder of life. Four years of college teaches you the responsibility of waking yourself up for class (or learning how to work the system so you don't have to), lets you forge long-term friendships, maybe meet your future spouse or just fall in and out of love, get arrested, or become kidnapped by an itinerant biker gang that's just passing through town on their way to a biker convention in Omaha. All of these are critical life experiences that you'll never experience if you try to finish schooling as fast as possible.

It seems like many kids today are anxious to race through the "learning" phase of life to get straight to the "real world" phase where they make lots of money and run for Congress (not to be confused with the "Real World" phase, which is also known as "college"). My advice to them? Slow down! The middle section of life between schooling and retirement is a temporal sponge that will gradually expand to fill the available space -- why sacrifice a few years of intense stimuli for an equal number of years in "more of the same"? Getting there early will not give you any advantages, and in all likelihood, you will probably suck at it because of a distinct lack of preparation. You will be just like those clowns that play Super Mario Brothers for the first time ever and try to warp directly to World 8.

The world will laugh as a Bullet Bill goes straight up your ass.

Man bites panda
Central Valley teacher gives X-rated handout
Gnomey alive and well

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