My professor was furious…
… I was going to make him even madder.
Usually he was funny, clever, entertaining and an amazing lecturer. He was my professor for my Political Science 301 class. It was a pretty big class of around 300 students, but usually no more than 50 students show up for class.
Today was different. Tomorrow was our final so every single student was there in the hopes that the professor would mercifully give them the smallest peak at the final. Some secret insight as far as what to expect.
But the prof was not having any of it. “You think you can skip my class all semester and then show up the day before a final and squeak through this class?!?” he bellowed.
He ranted on… “That is B.S.!! Somehow most of you thought that you needed to party more, which required you to sleep more, which forced you to miss this class. You thought it was better to drink more. Kill brain cells. And then miss this class so you’d have no ability to ever hold an intelligent thought?!? Well that’s not how it’s going to work. I’m going to let you all fail and maybe THAT will teach you something. Maybe THAT will soak into your brain… along with your vodka Red Bulls.”
The rant went on, but you get the idea.
“Next, a bunch of you are going to come to me after class and tell me why you can’t take the final exam. You’re going to ask for an extension… sooooo, instead of asking me later, if you are going to make such a request, stand up now and announce your request to the entire room.”
I knew I had to stand up. I was going to royally infuriate this man.
The silence in the room was haunting, while the blood pulsing in my eardrums was so loud. I slowly slid my chair back and started to stand. My head was soooo hot. I could not focus my eyes. I was terrified.
“Chad.” You could see the surprise on my professor’s face. I had actually been to almost every class. But he continued in a mock concerning voice jam packed of ultra-concentrated, 3X the allowed amount, of pure, venomous sarcasm, “What great event is happening in your life that you cannot make an exam that was scheduled BEFORE you even signed up for this class?”
I cleared my throat…
“Yesterday I discovered that I have testicular cancer… very aggressive… and they are operating on me tomorrow.”
The class all let out a muffled gasp in unison. My teacher’s proud shoulders drooped. His face went white. He had suddenly lost all his anger, all his aggression. He looked at me completely defeated.
I dropped out of school.
You may have noticed that I’m changing this blog up a bit. I’m not just going to give you facts, I’m going to add some advice from experience, mentors and friends.
Here’s the catch. I NEVER should have dropped out. I should have sought alternative ways to stay in school or delay school while I fought cancer. All I knew was that I had cancer. I had no insurance. And I was going to need a lot of money to fight this. I needed to work full-time.
So, before YOU drop out of college, let me ask you this one question?
Do you know why you are even in college?
Everyone’s answer is a little different. Some people are attending college to try to find themselves. They want to expand their horizons and expand the things that can affect them.
They are trying to find their passion.
College is a very expensive way to do that, but it does give you a lot of new experiences. One of these experiences may connect with you and give your life a purpose and a direction. If this is you, if you found your reason for being on this planet, then no matter how much college costs, it is worth it.
What if college is not working out for you? Is that a reason to quit?
Unfortunately, that is the reason to stay. Look, college is easy. Sure, the schooling is hard. Yes, it’s hard to force yourself to go to class. But, there is no desperation or gun to your head. College is not real life. When you fail at college the worst thing that happens is you do it again. Generally, they don’t kick you out of school and you certainly don’t lose your dorm room.
But… if you fail miserably at your job, you get fired. You get kicked out of your apartment for not paying rent and your car gets repossessed. Your real life begins a long spiral down to the bottom. You probably start doing heroin, sleeping with homeless people and basically dying at the old age of 30.
College is easy. If you are failing at college, then you need to stay until you learn the system. You stay until you discover the keys to success. Those keys are necessary to learn because they are also the keys to many things in life. Especially a job.
So, if you are failing in college, you need to stay in college.
Here is when you leave college….
If the reason you went to college, the goal, the dream, suddenly becomes available to you without finishing.
Let’s say your dream is to be a sports reporter. Most people will tell you to go to Northwestern University. But if you are suddenly given the opportunity to become a sports reporter on ESPN then you quit school and you take the opportunity you have just been given. Why miss out on the opportunity that you were trying to create for yourself by going to college. Makes no sense.
A lot of people will tell you to drop out of college if you get a once in a lifetime opportunity. Let’s say you get the chance to ride a space shuttle to the international space station.
YOU TAKE THAT OPPORTUNITY!!!
But you also stay in school. You talk to the administration and you take a temporary leave. You do whatever you can to live out the one-in-a-lifetime experience AND you keep your schooling opportunity open.
In my case, cancer made me drop out. But in hindsight, there were ways I could have stayed in. I could have gone on sabbatical. I could have switched to part-time. Instead, I left college and never returned. I was in my last semester and I threw it away because I did not look for alternatives.
So, in short. When times are tough, stay in school and learn life’s lessons in the soft, warm comfort of school. Only leave if the reason you went to school becomes available to you without school.
That is my advice to you. Grab what life is offering you and get your dream. School is not the dream, it’s the easy path. While you are waiting for your dream, go earn it in school and learn the tricks and secrets in life to find success.
College is kindergarten for life. Kindergarten teaches the kids how to stand in line. It teaches the kids how to behave in school. Basically, it teaches the kids everything they need to survive the rest of grade school. College does that exact thing. College teaches you what you need to survive in life.