Two weeks ago, this column was about the idea of doing a mental cleaning and simplifying—making sure that thoughts and actions are based on the simple truth. I mentioned how it seems our current culture is based on the clutter of untruth and manipulations.
My observation is that all of us are prone, at some time or another, to invest our time, energy, and emotions into various ideas that we accept as facts, without ever investigating their validity. When I was a professor, my students were forever doing this. For example, they would hear from another student that it was alright to use only Wikipedia sources on a research paper, when their written instructions from me clearly stated that their sources had to be from peer-reviewed professional journals. Then they would be angry with me when their grade suffered.
I know I am about to step on some toes with this next example, but it is the truth—and the truth sometimes mashes toes! I have seen so many children and parents, in fact it seems to be the majority these days, chasing college scholarships from the time their children begin school (sometimes before!). The truth is there is not that much scholarship money out there for graduating high school seniors. We are all thrilled this time of the year when we see kids signing commitments to play a sport for a college, or when they are called up to receive scholarship checks at graduation. Please do not misunderstand—those kids have earned those awards and I am so very proud of them—but it is not the "full ride" of their parents’ fantasies.
I was discussing this with a friend this morning—he is a senior in college and was the valedictorian of his high school class three years ago. He is paying for his college education on his own. Being the valedictorian earned him a tuition waiver for his first year of college. He also received a total of $500 in local scholarships upon graduation. He tells me the local scholarships "helped" with his books—in other words, his books were far more than $500. This left his living expenses and other expenses that he would have to fund himself. He was able to take out loans for that. After the first year, the tuition waiver was gone. He has taken every student loan offered to him and has worked 20-30 hours per week to pay for his education. All the while he has maintained excellent grades and involvement on campus. Now he is awaiting word on departmental and university-based scholarships for which he has applied. These, again, will not constitute a free ride, but should help slightly reduce the total amount of loans he will need to pay back in the next several years.
I asked my friend how his college financing experiences are lining up with what he had been led to expect—the answer is "not at all." A combination of the accepted knowledge (the rumors that everyone passes around as the truth) and misinformation given to him by school personnel had led him to believe that if he worked hard and got good grades, scholarships and grants would cover most, if not all, of his college expenses. Fortunately, he is resilient enough to have overcome the disappointment and disillusion I am sure he felt upon learning the truth about getting a college education.
This is just one example of the problem of surrounding ourselves with untruth and unreality. Yes, my friend is doing fine now, but I am thinking it would have all been much easier for him had he known what to expect from the beginning. I have many other examples and will be sharing them with you—so go ahead and get some steel-toed boots because I expect to be mashing more toes! SpringCreekArtsGuild@gmail.com