Elena Hooper

Before transferring out, consider your purpose in college

By Elena Hooper
Opinion Editor

As the semester begins to draw to a close and the promise hot, sunny days, pool parties, and lazy afternoons on the porch keep us hopeful during the dreary fog of spring, I’m sure quite a few of us are already gearing up to take summer classes or even transfer to a four-year school. Summer if often a time to get the small stuff done, like Gen. Ed. classes or transcript reviews, so that the bigger, more important moves in our educational career can run smoothly. What many of you might not stop to consider what is actually quite a pivotal question; Why, exactly, are you going to college? You may think you know the answer to that, but have you really given it a proper thought? I’d like to explain why pondering this question is actually worth your time and a crucial deciding factor to your future and life satisfaction.

In American society for at least forty years now, it’s customary that when we reach the end of our time in high school, we begin our search for colleges, far and wide, that provide a plethora of degree programs that we’re not sure if we’re even interested in to begin with. Most of us barely make up our minds about how we feel about ourselves and yet are essentially thrust into a situation that is completely beyond the maturity we’re capable of and out of our emotional and executive functioning depth. But we do it because it is our condition, and we make do, and a good portion of us come out on the other side relatively unscathed.

It would be easy to overlook our real motivations for pursuing a college degree as it is programmed into us from a very young age. We often see it as a means to an end and as the narrow path that leads us from one stage of life to another. It’s seen as normal and in some cases, even obligatory, to go to college in the United States, and those who do not participate are often seen as slackers.

Now I’m sure there are many people who go to college because they want to and they thrive in such an academic environment, but the opposite is true for many as well. There are often many people who feel a sense of duty to go to college, despite having little interest in it, and struggle semester after semester to keep their grades high enough so that they are not expelled, even if they put a sufficient amount of work into their studies.

The truth of the matter is: college is not easy, and it’s meant to be that way. For many hundreds of years, university was attended by the elite and only the elite who were pursuing the study of the arts and sciences. It was meant to be a rigorous endeavor that tested your mind and your values. It was meant to challenge you as much as possible and to expose you  many different perspectives. When one attended university, it was because he was in the pursuit of knowledge; he was there to learn. He was there to understand. Much of that, I believe, has been lost now in recent years due to the urgency and necessity placed on us to get that “perfect” white collar job. To that I say: nonsense. College is not a means to an end. It is meant to be an experience of knowledge where the process of it all outweighs the end product. But people cease to really learn or understand anything if they are only there to take a test. If they only want to memorize and not actually comprehend the information they’re being taught. This is not completely college students’ fault, however, as the education we received prior to coming to university was constructed the same way. Information itself has little value, only your ability to spit it back out for a test is what matters, and that is a truly poisonous idea.

So if the current state of postsecondary education is frustrating you like it’s frustrating me, you might be itching for a solution. Truthfully, the ideal solution would be for our overall culture to realign its values and work ethic with what people are capable of, not what we force them to do, but that’s going to take much longer to fix itself than the smaller decisions I’m going to suggest one could make. This may worry you as you’ve probably been told many times that the only way to have a happy life is if you go to college. This is also nonsense, you’ll just have to do a little digging.

For those who find themselves in a constant struggle with their postsecondary education and can’t seem to feel secure in a college environment no matter how hard they try, it might be time to reconsider the path your on. It might be difficult to accept that if you’ve been to a few different universities already or have been at the two-year level for quite awhile now, then university might not be for you, and that’s okay. So if that is the case, you might be wondering what your options are. You might be surprised at just how many careers are out there that don’t require a four-year degree. For example, construction and building inspectors made an approximate median annual salary of $59,000 but only need a high school diploma or equivalent and five years of work in a related occupation, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics which says that the field is expected to grow 10 percent by 2026. Also, elevator inspectors and repairers made an approximate median annual salary of $79,000 in a field expected to grow. But these are only a few examples of the wide array of careers you have to choose from.

Keep in mind that the foundation from which you build your career should be based on strong skills you have, not what you’re passionate about, and not what’s going to make you the most money. It may turn out that your passion is also a strong skill you have that can be easily marketable, but that is often not the case. True satisfaction in career comes from what you’re good at, but you should also enjoy what you do in the process. And if you struggle to identify what skills you have, then there are plenty of legitimate online quizzes to choose from that can help you in that process, or for even better results, you can even see career counselors including those at CCM’s Office of Career Services in CH 203. There are many two-year degrees, certification programs, apprenticeships, and vocational and technical programs that utilize the skills of those who may not have a knack for the scholarly but for the practical and hands-on. It is just as honest of a living than if you pursued a four, six, or even eight-year degree.

Now of course there are many people who pursue the scholarly, who pursue the white collar jobs, because they genuinely want to and it’s what they’re good at. There are also many people who come from poor or immigrant families who go to university to have a better life than what their parents had, and that is also valid. But where it becomes a problem is when people feel an obligation to go to university instead of a motivation. They don’t feel any reason to be there other than it’s what they’ve been told to do, but there is nothing wrong with not liking a university environment as it’s a very difficult environment for people to be in. It’s supposed to be like that.

So as the summer draws near, remember to really get in tune with yourself. Ask yourself what you want out of a university education, if anything at all. Are you there (or going there) because it’s a comfortable environment for you? Because you enjoy the challenge and the results you get from those challenges? Or are you going because it’s what you were told to do? Because it’s what everyone does? Or just because you want to make a lot of money? If your answers are the latter four, then maybe it’s time to look into other options. If you’ve been struggling for a while now to make ends meet in your university career and you feel like you’ve reached a dead end, just know that there is hope for a better future; it’s just not there. There’s just as much value in a career that’s vocational or technical as there is in an educated one. Being honest with what you want is much more likely to guarantee you satisfaction in life than trying to please others expectations.

Not functioning well in an academic environment doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you, or that you’re stupid, it just means that it’s not right for you, and you can find happiness and security in a career that doesn’t require such education. It’s true that you won’t make as much income than if you did have a university education, but if the only place you derive satisfaction from in life is how much money you make, then you will always feel dissatisfied. You’re not going to find joy in life by being complacent or from being able to own a mansion with a fancy car but from how productive and useful you feel and feeling like you’re working to your highest potential. Utilizing our skills and feeling like we’re making a difference, no matter how prestigious the job, is what’s important. A university education is not the only way to feel that, so I want you to consider this very important question: Why do you want to go to university?

Opinion: Don’t let your desire for productivity prevent you from self-care

By Elena Hooper
Opinion Editor

As college students, I’m sure we’re no strangers to experiencing stress and anxiety. With the multitude of responsibilities that many of us take on like school, a job, family matters, and social relationships, we’re often left feeling burnt out, on edge, and like we have absolutely no time for ourselves. And sometimes, we can get a high from being so busy since we feel like we’re being productive all the time. It can give us a sense of purpose and make us feel like we’re striving for our goals, giving us a better future.

Often, this idea comes from the culture that surrounds us, and it’s no secret that the U.S. has a very strenuous work ethic. We get caught up in this idea from a young age that any idle moment is time wasted, and time wasted wastes out potential and can ultimately make us failures. This then causes us to want to spend every free moment doing something that we deem as “productive” so that we may fit this work ethic mold to make ourselves feel good and to receive praise from our peers, friends, and family. But at what cost?

According to a 2015 study by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 85 percent of college students report feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities within the past year. On its website, the ADAA says, “College students can easily feel anxious trying to balance school, work, friends and family while also trying to figure out the rest of their lives. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems on college campuses.”

You see, when we subscribe to this very strenuous work ethic, we are also subscribing to the idea that time to ourselves is time wasted. We often feel that we need to jump on every opportunity to do something, anything, as long as it feels “productive.” This can be a very harmful idea to embrace as this suggests that time to ourselves is not productive. But to think even deeper about the concept of being “productive,” the work ethic would suggest that we need to be productive as much as possible at all times and to forgo relaxation in favor of production since relaxation is seen as having no real “production” value.

The issue with this is that there’s a heavy emphasis on production and very little emphasis on comfort. Often, we are expected to be as productive as possible while needing as little comfort as possible, but trying to circumvent comfort to go straight to production ends up leaving a lot of people feeling like they’ve failed. You see, if you’re not comforted first, then being productive is out of the question. Trying to push yourself to be creative, imaginative, engineering, or visionary is not going to happen without a stable support system of people and activities you feel safe and secure in. You need to feel safe and content before you can do anything great, and trying to forgo this comfort in favor of productivity will more likely than not leave you miserable and drained. Comfort has to be the foundation on which we stand to give us support and understanding, two things which very few people can achieve much without.

Desiring time to ourselves can feel shameful for us since the culture we live in dictates that we must want to seize every opportunity we can to be out doing something, making something of ourselves. But what if we’re just too tired? What if we need some peace and quiet? What if we’re just naturally introverted? All of these things are often unacceptable to the people around us, and at the very least, not understood. We are often told that we just need to “do something,” and we’ll feel better, or we’re just not pushing ourselves hard enough, or we’re just being too sensitive. All of these ideas discredit the very real turmoil many people feel from anxiety and stress caused by this cultural norm. Not taking these feelings seriously can leave many people feeling isolated.

So how can this issue be solved? For one thing,  people should open to the idea of unapologetic self care and start to realize that having time to yourself and treating yourself with care and sensitivity is okay and that self care is a vital part of having stable mental health. For those still struggling to be open and honest about their need for self care and maybe need some help figuring out where to start; beginning with what self care habits work for you is a good place. Some examples of self care include taking baths, listening to music, going for walks, journaling, collaging, and having one-on-one time with a close friend (not a large group of friends).

Not all of these will work for everyone; the key is finding what works for you and that could be anything you like. Also, learn to be firmer with your boundaries; if you know you’ve already reached your maximum capacity for work and socializing for that day or week, don’t be afraid to say no to things or people that try to overreach that boundary. If at that moment you know all that you need is time to yourself, take assurance in the fact that there will always be a next time and that those in your life that truly understand your situation will stick around. But if at any time you feel that your anxiety and stress is too much to handle is making you feel out of control or is significantly affecting your life in any way, please make sure to seek professional help if you can. You don’t have to go through something that difficult alone.

Learning to accept that we all have thresholds for stress and listening to our bodies and minds when we’ve reached those thresholds is crucial for our mental health. Saying no to things when we know we’ve reached our limit is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of a healthy and balanced mind. Knowing how to take care of ourselves and allowing time for that can lead us to living more productive and stable lives. We can educate ourselves on the subject and learn to become better advocates for ourselves and other people who need it. We can’t be productive members of society without first being comforted members of society.

Truth requires equal scrutiny for all extremes

By Elena Hooper
Opinion Editor

It’s no secret that the culture and society we live in is becoming steadily more progressive by the year. While the election in the past year has disheartened many and has taken us steps many back in terms of progressive government, the majority of progressives in this country still have not abandoned their progressive ideals. In many respects, it’s been for the better. Gay marriage is now legal. The number of educated young people is higher than it’s ever been (with even more women than men pursuing an undergrad). Career paths have been opened to both sexes that they were not able to pursue before, such as a female welder or a male nurse. Equal pay for both sexes, just to name a few. But within the past five years or so, with popular spearheads of the liberal movement like Anita Sarkeesian, Hillary Clinton, and celebrities such as Beyonce and Madonna, liberalism has taken a very self-centered turn and has become much more focused on the insecure needs of individuals who follow the movement and their desire to be accepted regardless of their shortcomings instead of fighting for political justice. Many who are part of the liberal movement have become much more focused on body image and identity, two things that are highly personal and have nothing to do with political progression. And because many who are part of this movement are overly concerned with their personal image and identity issues, it’s now seems to have become everyone else’s problem and is blamed, not on their own views of themselves, but mysterious outside forces whose existence is questionable.

But this progression has reached a point where it’s no longer leading us up a mountain to victory, but driving itself and anyone who associates with it off a steep cliff. I say this because I have a feeling that some who may have read the previous sentence before the last where I made a remark about the equal pay between men and women may have become frustrated, maybe even offended. “But that’s not true!” some may cry. “A woman makes 77 cents to a man’s dollar. Her salary is more than 20 percent lower than a man’s just because of her gender. How can you say we have equal pay?” While many people believe this statistic, it’s been proven many times to be a complete myth along with a few other widely regurgitated “facts”. Many liberals argue that women making 77 percent of men’s incomes on average is evidence of a sexist economy and therefore, a generally sexist western culture. However, this statistic does not take into account variables such as careers and degrees that women are more likely to pursue.

The gender pay gap myth has been debunked by numerous economic studies, a credible one being from the Foundation for Economic Education, and when the data is looked at more closely, it’s evident that there is a different story to be told. What the data actually represents is the median salary of women working full time divided by the median salary of men working full time. These numbers do not take into account occupation, education, or hours worked per week. When you consider these variables, you will find that the “gap” is largely influenced by choice. Women, on average, are more likely to pursue jobs and careers that are not particularly high earning like child care or public education while men are more likely to pursue high earning careers like careers in STEM. Women are also more likely to work part time and be less willing to work overtime when in a full time job. They are also not as likely to take big risks when it comes to career decisions and prefer stability. These are all choices women make about their careers, and even if it may be influenced by social expectations, they have almost nothing to do with the decisions made by employers and companies and certainly has nothing to do with what the liberal collective likes to call the “wretched patriarchy”.

Yes. The patriarchy, that boogeyman in the closet that liberals want everyone to fear so that their ideology will gain favor and thus more power in society. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting your ideology heard, it’s completely different when you use your ideology as a force to control others with for your own ego stroking and validation. This is the case in many of the situations where such statistics are brought up. They are used to scare women and brainwash them into thinking that they’re more oppressed than they actually are, and those who believe that they are not oppressed to begin with are ostracized and verbally abused, sometimes even physically attacked. For example, popular political YouTuber Lauren Southern was covering a free speech rally and the University of Toronto for her channel. Southern is outspoken against fourth wave feminism and the radical left collective and an avid supporter of free speech. At this rally, she had numerous encounters with people on the radical left who shouted obscenities at her and would refuse to talk when she would question them about the event, until finally a man she was questioning (but I’m pretty sure the fellow went by some other sparkly gender identity) punched her directly in the face. All because she didn’t share the same radical opinion as them, even though Southern is not a conservative in the least. I don’t know about you, but I think type of behavior should at least raise some questions. But apparently, it’s done the opposite in many places in our country, especially on college campuses.

This very vocal group of people have single handedly dominated the conversation on identity politics and social issues on many of our country’s more progressive campuses. With each passing year, campus after campus has submitted to this vitriolic ideology in order to please its growing popularity. It’s taken over many classrooms where civil discourse was meant to educate, but now has many students putting their fingers in their ears not wanting to be offended. It’s even found its way into our own campus, unbeknownst to many of its students.

Have any who may be reading heard of the Women’s Center at CCM? I’m sure many were confused by that question as I was, too. It’s a curious situation, too. There’s been further investigation done by our Editor-in-Chief Brett Friedensohn on another article, and he’s uncovered some interesting information. It turns out that CCM’s Women’s Center is not even technically part of the school. The school allows them to use office space but is state funded and geared towards women in the community, not on the college campus. And even though the claim is that the department is open mostly for women in the outside community, the Women’s Center has its own page on the CCM website and calls itself “The Women’s Center at CCM,” as well as using grants from the state made out to the school, an annual one of approximately $130,000 to be exact. On top of that, the school gives them supplies and free HR support. When questioned about the exact reasoning behind this odd arrangement, Dr. Bette Simmons, vice president of student development and enrollment management, stated that one of the main purposes of having this arrangement is to make draw more people to the college. To make the college appear humanitarian, giving the college a specific image to draw in more revenue. It’s no coincidence that the desire for the college to have this image coincides with our current social and political climate. Many colleges have now adopted this image because they know it’s profitable. The demand for “equity” and ridiculous accommodations for all groups of people (some whose legitimacy is questionable, but that’s a discussion for another day) has many campuses in a death grip, “give us what we want or we’ll make you look bad.” This ideology has the power that it does because it’s become extremely popular, especially among young college-aged people, and while there are fewer people in this collective that will enact physical violence on others, there’s still an alarmingly large number of people who accept this ideology and dismiss the more extreme actions without question.

The behaviors of some of the subgroups within this collective border on a cult mentality, and it’s become incredibly dangerous to the safety of our free speech and our social discourse. “But wait!” they cry again. “Our ideas are trying to improve society. We’re trying to create a safe environment for people of all races, sexualities, and genders to live in. We’re trying to protect the marginalized against those who oppress them, like the alt-right. How can you say that our ideas threaten free speech?” While those efforts are admirable and liberal ideas have improved society in the past, thought policing is still thought policing. Censorship is still censorship. Propaganda is still propaganda. And it happens on both radical sides of the political spectrum. No matter what the ideology is, these actions are used when the party in question wants to exercise control over people’s actions and thoughts, silence opposing ideas, and keep those who follow ignorant by feeding them false information about the world around them. This is all done when the organization wants to gain power for personal gain, often monetary and/or social.

Neither radical side wants to admit to this since both will always claim that they “just want to make the world a better place” (yes, even Neo-Nazis are technically trying to make the world a better place), but really the majority of their beliefs are centered around self-interest, egotistical gratification, and insecurity. They fear the majority of what the world has to offer, so they feel much safer in their confined little bubble with people who parrot each other’s ideas. Many of these people just want to feel important and accepted in some group and can often get addicted to the power it gives them. Yes, the radical left and the alt-right have two very different ideas in mind for what they want for the world, but upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that they are both rotten to the core.

Now I do want to make one thing clear: I am by no means a conservative, or even a centrist for that matter. I’m actually quite a left-leaning person, most likely a progressive, but I can still see things wrong with how people on the left treat others. It’s just as wrong as if a conservative person did the same thing. It’s not about what your goal is; it’s about why you’re pursuing it, and it’s about time those on the radical left were exposed for their selfish and trivial interests since there’s been plenty of exposing done to right wing. Maybe they’re not the only problem.