Monday, January 10, 2011

The law of diminishing returns

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || January 10, 2011

Why did I do that?

Why did I just spend time that I have too much of, only to spend money that I have too little of and register for a full slate of classes that I’m eventually going to fail, or, just as likely, drop out of?

Why did I just try to calculate — in my head — the number of credits I need to graduate before my 25th birthday, the number of extra credits I need to take in order to graduate period, and why in the world did I just sign up for double the number of credits (18) than I’ve earned in the past two years combined?

It’s Friday, a few days before the start of the semester, and I just registered for my 10th semester of school at my fourth academic institution. I’m a sixth-year junior, either 22- or 23-years-old depending on how old I think you are, my grade-point average has officially fallen below the Mendoza line and, in short, I think I’m wasting my life away chasing a piece of paper.

I’m right, of course, and I’m equally as na├»ve and talented to think so.

I think I’m too old to be here, I like to think I’m too good, I spend my time in class daydreaming about catching those dreams, I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel and I wake up every day wishing to muster enough nerve to dive head first into that tunnel.

I am, of course, also stupid. Very stupid.

Stupid for dropping classes left and right in my first three years at a community college to save my grade-point average so I could get into Michigan State. That worked out.

Stupid for blatantly failing classes after landing my first internship, stupid for not taking classes during that internship and stupider for laughing at the thought of having to sit through another class again.

And maybe stupidest, I thought I was an exception to the rule.

But you’re not an exception until you take exception and, last I checked, I’m still signing up for the same classes, still failing them without a plan, answering multiple choice questions with, ”Just give me a C in here, man.”

I’ve been stuck on my junior year for three years, I’ve bailed on more credits than most sophomores have earned, I’ve been passed for failing work, failed for passing work and I’m probably more proud of my C’s than you are of your A’s.

I passed on an opportunity without a degree; I’ve been passed on for opportunities without a degree, and now, all of the opportunities I want are going to people with degrees.

And yet, I still can’t agree.

Last semester, I bought zero books, passed one class, dropped two more, and earned three total credits. I had one foot in the door, one foot out, when late in the semester, I was knocked off my high horse.

“You won’t get a job in this industry,” a successful college dropout told me, “unless you’re Ernest Hemingway.”

A few days later, I dropped out of a class at my fourth school, and over a month later, after re-registering for that dropped class like so many times before, can’t help but think of my college choices in five words:

Why did I do that?

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