Opinions & Editorials

A Degree of Haste

AFT 2121 members hang banners over the Muni overpass on Ocean avenue on April 27, 2016. (Photo by Danya Aispuro/Special to The Guardsman)participate in a one day strike in front of the Ocean campus on April 27, 2016. Photo by Danya Aispuro/Special to The Guardsman
AFT 2121 members hang banners over the Muni overpass on Ocean avenue on April 27, 2016. (Photo by Danya Aispuro/Special to The Guardsman)participate in a one day strike in front of the Ocean campus on April 27, 2016. Photo by Danya Aispuro/Special to The Guardsman

By David Horowitz

City College is a golden apple of knowledge and juicy experiences waiting for you to take your bite. To assume this institution exists mainly as a tool for transferring to a 4-year university is a sad and potentially wasteful mistake

I’d like to stress, as a student with other students’ interests at heart, that the recent strike wasn’t only for fair faculty wages. It’s for you to experience a college without extensive class cuts—one which allows you to pursue a variety of interests beyond your initial major.  And even though the first faculty strike has ended, students are, as they have always been, able to take matters into their own hands.

I’m approaching my fourth year as a City College student. My high school classmates who immediately attended university after graduating already have their bachelor’s degrees. It’s a little embarrassing.

But here, I could afford to take classes in a dozen different subjects that are not required for me to transfer: Chinese, politics, feminism, cooking, psychology, English, journalism and so on.

My parents encouraged me to experiment, and if I were pressured to prioritize transferring to a 4-year university, I would have missed out on many of my most incredible experiences.

I’ve learned about worldviews I did not know existed, important aspects of government and unions, magazine and newspaper making, teaching, photography, memory techniques, fundraising, helping the homeless, yoga, swimming, deadlifting and more.

I use many of these things in daily life, and also, just recently, discovered my passion here—writing.

None of this would have happened if those I trusted and looked up to most told me to focus on transferring. And much less would have happened if City College’s instructors weren’t stellar, but most of them were. It is a crying shame our faculty are struggling to live in this city, and those who want to study are having their classes reduced.

There is also a societal hypocrisy between degrees and goals: On one hand, if you’re still an undergraduate, people are probably telling you to prioritize your 4-year degree. Your friends and relatives, if they’re anything like mine, probably say things like “How many more years do you have left?” and “Get that 4-year degree and you’ll never have to go back!”

On the other hand, some of those people have probably told you to aim for your dreams.

The less time you spend in school, the fewer classes you take. The fewer classes you take, the fewer fields you experiment in. How will you transfer and reach your dreams without knowing what’s out there?

While hard work is essential, smart work is paramount. Untold numbers of passionate, hard-working people have slaved for decades before realizing their sweat was for something they never truly wanted.

If you can help it, why risk being one of those people? Better yet, why risk being like my former high school classmates who recently became graduates, most of whom wish they majored in something different?

To those who say it’ll be worth it in the end, I tell you there’s no reason it can’t be worth it now.

It’s not too late to change your mind or forge a critically different path from the one you’re on, no matter your age. My mom, at 57, got into nursing at City College and received her degree at 58.

If you approach City College with the mindset to learn rather than to get it over with, participating in its classes may become one of your best decisions. And not because of the degree.

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Send an email to: David Horowitz


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