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School Is a Scam, Just Start Doing What You Love

By Zoe Waters

We inhabit a society that tells us that we need to partake in higher education in order to do anything “worth it” within our lives. As if we need to spend thousands of dollars to obtain a fancy piece of paper that signifies that we will be paying some loan shark for a vast majority of our lives, as if we need to spend countless hours studying material that barely makes sense to pass another quiz or write another paper. We need to start challenging how we think about the institution of school and what we can do without it. 

Over 40% of people in the United States say that they are not using their degree, and 61% of people report that they would have changed their major if they could go back. We require young students, ages 17 and 18 to decide a topic that they want to study for the rest of their lives and to invest multitudes of money into it. More than likely, these are students who have no experience within their field. They will not get that experience until well after they graduate. We’re taught that we need school to do the things we want to do, but that is just not the case.

On another level, school as an institution is harmful. Research has consistently shown that they are not here to protect their students from racism, sexual violence, or more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. These institutions uphold classism through grammar, ableism through inaccessible spaces and attendance policies, and xenophobia within the pandemic. These policies are left unchecked for so long that they have become our way of life. To be a student is to pay into these forms of oppression, continuing the cycle of oppression.

In society today, there are so many educational resources that one can engage with, many of which are cheaper than the cost of attendance at esteemed institutions, or even free. Larger universities have begun to offer free online programs for people to engage in. Other online programs have sprung up, offering free or low-cost education for people wanting to learn more.

We are taught to go to a university because we need it to be competent in our field. To begin to see change, we must challenge these intuitions by prioritizing free, accessible learning then, we can move forward into a space where the institution of university is a thing of the past. 

Here are a few great free or low-cost resources for anyone who might want to begin and/or continue learning:

  1.   Coursera: Partnering with more than 200 leading universities and companies to bring flexible, affordable, job-relevant online learning to individuals and organizations worldwide.
  2.   Codecademy: Committed to building the best learning experience inside and out, making Codecademy the best place for our team to learn, teach, and create the online learning experience of the future.
  3.   Harvard Online: Focused on career advancement. 
  4.   EdX:  Your edX learning experience is grounded in cutting edge cognitive science with more than two dozen distinct learning features to help you achieve your goals.
5.    Khan Academy: A nonprofit with the mission to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.

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