Challenging Convention and Post-Secondary Education in America

There is something called conventional wisdom. It’s what society believes everybody should know. In the States, it’s that everybody should graduate high school and then get a four-year college degree. For the rest of our lives, people will ask us where we graduated college as if it’s a monitor that says whether you’re smart or not.

It is important to me that I feel confident about my education. However, my whole life, I will be looked down upon and criticized for not completing college, labeled as a college dropout. Regardless if I speak five languages, studied at numerous institutions and have traveled the world. I guess anything that’s non-standard takes a bit of an explanation.

In America, there are very few options in regards to education because people believe you either go to university or you don’t. These are poor choices. Students go to college and get on a path that has been set for 50 million other students. By treating them as all the same, we strip them of everything that makes them unique. Maybe it will be damaging to America in the long run.

When my parents were going to school, everyone wanted the same education. Everyone wanted equal access to the same education, which was the best there was at the time. That same thing that made it great in the old times, makes it weak now.

America used to be a leader in education, but we became too much like a business. We teach everyone the same curriculum and charge them hundreds of thousands of dollars in the meantime. Universities have become centers for profit, while students are being driven into debt at the most critical time in their young lives.

For two years of my life, I sat at a desk like every other student and studied the curriculum designed for the bottom half of the student population. I took classes that bored me to tears and classes that changed my life. Those classes that inspired me, such as Religion and Social Psychology, unfortunately, wouldn’t apply towards my degree. As far as my school saw it, they were useless.

I always knew I was not a follower. I think for myself. Near the end of my time at university, I realized there’s a lot of opportunities to get a great education at a reasonable cost. There was something else out there for me.

I left school for good this time last year, halfway through the Spring semester. I wasn’t leaving my education behind, instead, I was walking to a new one. I was determined to create my own curriculum.

In this past year alone, I’ve studied at language schools in Rome, Vienna, Brussels, and Cairo. I’ve attended events at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, and discussed cybersecurity with world leaders such as Meng Hongwei, the president of INTERPOL, and Aaron Kleiner, a director at Microsoft.

This past autumn, I spent four days at the American University of Cairo, at a conference where we explored research and application of new directions in an ever-changing digital environment whether in the Arab region or globally. Even today, I spend around thirty hours a week studying Arabic and marketing.

For a typical college student in the United States, tuition is $30,000 a year. After four years, that racks up to $120,000. In the past year, I’ve maybe spent $20,000 on my education and I’ve done so much, straying from the conventional ways of education. I have learned more than I ever imagined I could and became passionate about learning through experience along the way. I believe this form of education is more practical and economical.

This time last year, just before leaving school, I discovered Praxis. It changed my life. I finally had found a school for people who strayed from the path; people like me. It is a school for people who are tired of sitting at a desk and want to work now. Every month, we studying something different, marketing or writing for example. By the end of the month, we have a big project to complete to showcase what we learned.

After five or six months, every student starts an apprenticeship at a startup company. If you don’t know, an apprenticeship is similar to an internship, however, the apprenticeship is paid and trains you for the job as if you were already hired on salary. With apprenticeships through Praxis, we’re even going to study under the CEO and be positioned to grow with the company. I’m finishing my fourth month with Praxis and have spent the whole month consuming content on marketing. In March or April, I will start my apprenticeship.

I’ve been doing Praxis since the summer, still studying at various schools and conferences. After my time in the Middle East and Europe, I’ll go back to the States and start a new chapter in my life, one with a professional career.

Today, college degrees are a dime a dozen and employers are looking for people who stand out. Employers want people who think differently from others. People who are resourceful, ambitious, and unique. Those are the people who will be valuable to a company and will revolutionize the growth process. With all my studies and schooling under my belt, however unconventional it may be, I think I have become one of those people.

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