If you didn’t need a degree to get the job you want, would you still go to college? If you could go directly into a well-trodden apprenticeship program–bypassing the majority of the classroom work–would you do that instead? If you had all the money you could ask for, would you bother with college?
I’m guessing a majority of students wouldn’t, but, for better or worse, we’ve set up society so that entrance into the middle class requires a college degree.
And so college finds itself in an unsettling situation: It’s trying to create educated, intelligent, cerebral people to solve the world’s most pressing issues, but few students want that. They want A’s, degrees, status, and high salaries–and I want to be clear that those are all fine pursuits–but those things don’t matter if Earth is uninhabitable in 300 years.
Two nights ago, friends I watched a new Johnny Depp movie, The Professor, about an English professor who is told he has lung cancer and has six months to live. In my favorite scene, Depp’s character decides to change how his classroom works (and here, I must note that I do not agree with everything Depp’s character says. As any comedian would tell you, there’s a difference between what one thinks, and what one thinks is funny to say.):
Depp’s character is making the point that it’s the remaining students who will make an impact on the world; the rest will go on to live mediocre lives.
I shared this video clip in my newsletter this week, “The Extra Dose“. It includes unpublished blog posts, ideas, software I’m using, books I’ve read, and other things I’m doing to live a better, more meaningful life. If you would have been one of the remaining students in Depp’s class, sign up for my newsletter below and I’ll send you this week’s issue: