Tuesday, May 7, 2013

College Vs. Non-College

Nuggets For The Noggin
A Personal Opinion
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 5, 2013

This is a non scientific opinion of college educations based upon my personal experience.

Fact:  I attended Bowling Green State University for 2 years where my major was marketing and advertising but I did NOT graduate.  Why?  In 1967 I sat out a semester and then went back to school.  While back at school I received my Draft Notice (the Draft was still active in 1967), I went into the U. S. Coast Guard and never returned to finish my degree.

Personal observation.  Throughout my elementary school, junior high school and high school education I received okay grades, not great, not poor; just okay.  I graduated from High School with grades good enough to be accepted at universities.  BUT I HAD PROBLEMS that were never addressed in any of my schools I attended.

What kind of problems?  Glad you asked.  I can take you to one very specific incident that occurred in the third grade.  The teacher was discussing space and the planets, specifically Mars.  She made a statement that there was no life on Mars because, and I don’t remember the actual statement, it was either too hot or too cold or there was no oxygen, only carbon dioxide or something like that.  What she said was not important.  What was important and very life changing for me was my response to her statements.  I asked her why and what if!  

I remember asking her that “what if” the people on Mars like it very cold (or very hot) and what if like the plants on earth they took in carbon dioxide and gave off oxygen?   I asked her why she based her instruction on humans like us rather than on what humans might be like on Mars.  She embarrassed me in front of my classmates by suggesting my question and statement was stupid.  Result, I rarely asked another question throughout my formal education.

Now fast forward to the 1990’s where I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Tom Hill of the Eagle Institute http://www.tomhillwebsite.com.  Dr. Hill had been a college professor and one of the subjects he taught related to right-brain and left-brain thinking.  He made the statement that it was obvious, at least to him, that I was a right brain person who grew up in a left brain world especially a left-brain educational system.  I can remember that conversation as if it were yesterday.

What is the difference?  In short, a right brain person is best suited to be a writer, artist, musician, carpenter, etc.  A left brain-person is more suited to be an engineer, mathematician, teacher, etc.  A left-brain person is taught to color within the lines; a right-brain person doesn’t care about the lines.  A right-brain person comes up with great ideas and then relies upon left-brain folks to worry about the details and completing the project.  A right-brain person wants to work on a project and complete it in short period of time.  A left-brain person doesn’t care how long a project takes to complete or even if he or she is the one to complete it.

My third grade teacher’s left-brain response to a right-brain person proved, in my case, to be devastating to my desire to participate in future classes I was taught.  Who wants to go out of his way to be embarrassed?  Certainly not me.  Who wants to have their thoughts and ideas declared stupid?  Certainly not me.  I would go so far to suggest that a lot of students being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) may in fact be more of a right-brain person in a left-brain world.  Think about it.  At the risk of sounding immodest, if you have a creative mind and constantly think outside-the-box, do you feel you “fit in” the current educational system where everything is either black or white, color within the lines, facts are facts thinking?  Doubt it!  I had a difficult time paying attention within a black and white type of educational system.  If ADD had been an issue back in the 50’s and 60’s, I probably would have been diagnosed as having ADD because I could not pay attention for any great length of time.

Throughout all of my formative years, no one ever asked me what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life.  Had they asked, I would have told them I wanted to be a cabinet maker – really.  And based upon what I have said, cabinet making (or wood working) would be a right brain activity.  You start and finish a creative project within a short period of time.  You receive gratification quickly for a creative project completed.  To be a cabinet/furniture maker you would not need a college education.  Sadly I never had the opportunity to work with wood, instead I went to college where for my first two and only years I took courses in every subject EXCEPT marketing and advertising - the field I “thought” I wanted to learn.

As it turned out, I was fortunate that an accidental life-event, purchasing a home, turned out to be such a nightmare.  As a result I vowed that it would never happen to me again so I started taking courses in real estate and eventually obtained my real estate salesman’s license and then my real estate broker’s license.  It was a field that I discovered that I loved.  More importantly I also discovered that I enjoyed teaching so I became a real estate broker who also taught real estate courses for my agents.  My satisfaction was watching agents receive awards in sales and that internally I felt I might have had something to do with their success in the business.  As of this writing I am putting the finishing touches on a book I have written, Real Estate Lagniappe www.RealEstateLagniappe.com

My advice to anyone, young or old, would be to find something you love and then find a way to earn a living doing it.  In short, do what you love; love what you do!  If you think you would love to be a teacher, then become a teacher and that typically would require a college education.  If you think you would love to be a plumber, then become a plumber and that would typically require a more hands-on training in a trade school and/or working as an apprentice with an experience plumber but not a college education.

I find it disturbing to watch high school students be accepted to college and then major in a subject where employment opportunities are extremely limited if not outright impossible to enter.  Then what happens?  You have a college graduate who becomes either unemployed or finds work outside their field of expertise.  Just look around, you will see it for yourself.  I grew up in an atmosphere where suggesting someone NOT attend college was blasphemous; it just wasn’t done.

If I were in charge of education (good thing I am not) I would strongly suggest that there ought to be courses regarding left-brain vs. right-brain thinking.  Students would be placed in educational/career track courses that would enable the student to take advantage of a specific left-brain or right-brain ability.  And then create educational opportunities for each without stigmatizing either track.  By that I can specifically recall how students in the 60’s who elected to take courses such as “shop” type courses were thought less of because of their choices. 

Unfortunately parents think of the end result rather than the beginning.  By that I mean they think in terms of income earned.  If you want to be rich and happy you need to be a doctor; who has not heard that before.  Contrary to that thinking, I know of a great many real estate agents who out earn many in the medical profession.  To become a real estate agent (sales) you do not need a college education.  A degree would not hurt but it is not required.  I know many automobile mechanics who go on to own their own shops and do very well.  Bakers who go on to own their own bakery.  Plumbers, their own business.  The list is endless.  A college education is not required in many professions.  The key is to find that career path that you love and then find a way to make doing what you love into a career.  Then become the best at what you do whatever that field is.

It is really sad to see more and more students incur student loan liabilities or parents pay for a college education only to discover there are no jobs in the careers they supposedly feel they need to enter versus a desire to enter if given a free choice to do so.  Let’s face it, not everyone has the mental acumen or desire to learn the details required in the medical and other very technical professions so why even attempt it.

The BIG life lesson that I have learned over the years is that most people, certainly not you, fail to figure out the value of having what Gary Keller describes in his book, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent as a BIG WHY, http://www.amazon.com/Millionaire-Real-Estate-Agent-Money-Its/dp/0071444041   A Big Why is what you are working towards achieving.  What is it that you want to spend the rest of your life working towards achieving?  Having a lot of money in a portfolio is NOT a Big Why.  What the money will do for you IS the Big Why.  Money in itself will not necessarily make you happy.  What you do with the money may.

I still do not see educators emphasizing the importance of creating really big life goals and then demonstrating to students how to attain those goals.  As a result I see students moving into their adult years with no specific direction.  Even worse, I see students moving into their adult years pursuing goals established by someone other than the student.  How’s that working for everyone?

My advice?  

  • Determine if you are predominantly a right-brain or a left-brain person?
  • Determine what you love to do that matches your inner desires.  If that requires a college education; go for it.  If not, go for that as well!
  • Find a path (education) required to pursue what you love to do (and then do what you love)!
  • Set a BAG - Big Ass Goal (sorry if that offends anyone) but really big goals are more rewarding than little ones.  If you have a choice, and you do, set a really big one.  If you don’t achieve the big one, think of all the little ones you will have achieved along the way!
  • And then - Leave a legacy that you will be proud of!

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