In fact, the whole American educational system is essentially run by a bunch of liars.* Yup, I said it: Teachers are liars.** Remember painstakingly (probably more painful for me) trying to multiply polynomials, only to be handed a sparkly TI-89 a few years later? Remember your middle school teacher insisting you learn to write in cursive, and then your high school teacher insisting that you stop because your handwriting was illegible (or was that just me…)? The whole system*** is built on the idea that we should apply what we’ve learned in our last role to our current role, but most of the time we don’t. We learn a short cut… or just forget it all together (which is exactly what I’ve done regarding physics, chemistry, algebra- essentially any subject that uses words like “variable,” “calculate,” or “solve.”)
Here’s the thing. I thought college would be different. Seems reasonable to expect that you would be applying the things you learned as a [fill-in-the-blank] major to, I don’t know- a new career in [fill-in-the-blank]? Nope. Not really. College is supposed to prepare you for “the real world.” But, college is nothing like life after the “g” word, and therefore horrible career preparation. Three simple facts that prove college might be the worst extended training program, ever.****
Lie College Teaches You #1: 8+ Hours of Sleep is Totally Attainable
Let’s say you have two classes- 9am and 1pm. In college it would be perfectly acceptable, perhaps encouraged, to catch a few z’s in between your riveting lectures on “Stress Prevention” and “Food in American Culture.” Today I had two meetings- 9am and 1pm, and I get the sense that my coworkers would not have appreciated me disappearing to my car for a few hours. (Although, most of my friends would attest to the fact that I am much more pleasant to be around when I’m well-rested (and well-fed), plus my vintage ‘07 cloth seats provide for a pretty decent nap- so really it would be to everyone’s advantage.) Moral of the story- I miss naps. I’m tired all the time. Thanks for nothing, college.
Lie College Teaches You #2: Homework is a Thing
In school, your personal and academic lives are intertwined. Maybe you’re on an athletic team (hahahaha not me), or you joined some sort of nerdy club with your friends (that’s more like it), but you find yourself on campus at weird hours of the day. There are no clear cut lines between when you are “on” and when you’re “off”… and you really don’t care, because its all kind of fun. But postgrad, when the clock strikes five… hasta luego! LET ME MAKE THIS CLEAR, THIS IS THE SINGLE PERK OF POSTGRAD LIFE. Well, that and making money. But essentially, barring some sort of major project, or the occasional small scale disaster, you can leave work and not have to think about it again for like twelve hours. No more all nighters, no more stress keeping you up about whether or not you erased your scantron answers “thoroughly” enough- whatever that means, no more group projects at 9pm in the library across campus because someone always claims it’s “the only time” they can meet. BS. Anyway… around 4:45 this conversation usually happens:
Coworker: Oh, it’s almost 5, can we wrap this up, I need to pick up my kids from daycare.
Me: Yeah, totally, a Real Housewives marathon starts at 6, and I need to have time to stop by Taco Bell.
And they kind of have to be okay with it. We have different priorities, whatever. (Although, I’m learning it’s usually just best to claim you have “plans.”)
Lie College Teaches You #3: Hangover Immunity
Not that I’m proud of this (I’m a little proud), but I used to be able to how should we say… “have a good time” when I went out with friends in college. Beer? Yup. Shots? Mmhm. Last week I went to a networking event and had a glass of wine? I had a headache for a solid 48 hours. Something tragic, really tragic, happens to your body around age 22, and it’s very sudden. You become completely incapable of responding to alcohol the way you used to. This reaction strikes everyone at a slightly different time, so be prepared. And you want to be like, “Really, I was in college 5 months ago, this shouldn’t be happening.” So you blame it on being tired or dehydrated or something stupid, and go to happy hour with some coworkers a week later to give it another try. Dead. Dying. Buried in the ground. It’s a cruel, cruel world out there. And college didn’t help.
*I made this up.
**Teachers aren’t liars. Usually.
***I’ve said “system” twice now. Do I sound smart yet?
****Read as: College is the most fun way to spend 100K, ever. And you’ll probably learn things like time management and social skills. But isn’t that why we have How-To books and Tinder?
PS, College is the best place on earth. Don’t ever change.
PPS, Teachers have the hardest job in the world. I needed a scapegoat for the sake of hyperbole. If you don’t know what hyperbole means, you probably didn’t have teachers as good as mine. In short, I like teachers.