Grasshopper Soup: Is college worth it? | SierraSun.com
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Grasshopper Soup: Is college worth it?

Bob Sweigert
Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE/TAHOE, Calif. and#8212; In jolly old England last week, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, were on their way to the theater, and they found theater all right. It was a near tragedy. They were separated from their escort and made a wrong turn into an angry mob of students who were rioting in protest of the rising cost of college tuition. Or was it the price of beer? From the looks on their faces, it appeared that the royal couple thought it might be their last night on earth. They must have felt like the Sheriff of Nottingham meeting his end at the hand of Robin Hood and his merry band of thieves.

The students kicked the vehicle and pounded on it with their fists, causing dents and broken windows. The mob was calling, and#8220;Off with their heads!and#8221; I am not making this up. Apparently, pitchforks and scythes were not brandished, but I wasnand#8217;t there. I was in France eating cake for dinner. Apparently no one was burned at the stake.

What is this world coming to? Students are sure getting a raw deal. In Berkeley they are being fined $220 for locking bicycles in the wrong place, but the fine for driving while talking on your cell phone is only $155. If I were a student, Iand#8217;d be revolting too.

I was ticked off because my mother made me go to college, not because it was expensive. Obscene tuition fees would have been the perfect excuse for me. All I wanted was a halfway decent job and a car so I could date girls. Chopping off the heads of two humans just because they were in a limousine and born in to royalty was a desire that just couldnand#8217;t compete with going to the drive-in theater or playing Frisbee.

But college does cost too much, and not just in England. But why go downtown to cause trouble when you can hang out with friends, play music, sing, have a big spaghetti dinner with wine and salad and then go out dancing to live music and drink pitchers of beer? We used to check in to class and then sneak out the window. We had better things to do.

If I couldnand#8217;t afford college, Iand#8217;d just think of something else to do. You have to learn how to adapt. Thatand#8217;s what humans do to survive. That, and maybe a little white lie on your resume.

If one of my friends started yelling, and#8220;Hey, lets go kill people because tuition is too high,and#8221; thatand#8217;s where we would part ways. Hopefully, violence wouldnand#8217;t ensue between the two of us at that point, which is a typical boiling point for violent people, that moment when they feel violence is justified, and when someone insults them by choosing the path of peace.

I canand#8217;t blame students for being angry about tuition costs. But we had other fish to fry in my college days. During the 60s and 70s we had a saying about education and conformity. We challenged the traditional, and#8220;cookie cutterand#8221; careers. Our motto was, and#8220;Specialization is for insects!and#8221; We painted the phrase on a campus wall and then went on to live in tee-pees on the frozen Alaskan tundra, drive trucks, bicycle across the country and become ski instructors, activities that, as far as I know, are a lot more fun than terrorizing Prince Charles and his wife.

Perhaps kids these days are taking college, and its promise of a better life, way too seriously:

and#8220;Hey kids! Spend your next six years sitting in a hard, wooden chair listening to facts, theories, hypotheses, political propaganda, agree to it all or make a good argument against it and, if your professor doesnand#8217;t flunk you, you can start your dream job and luxury lifestyle just a mere $120,000 in debt!

If I was a student under those circumstances today, I wouldnand#8217;t go downtown and throw paint on the royal Rolls Royce, Iand#8217;d go fishing.

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, former college instructor and ski instructor. He has a B.A. and an M.A.T. from Gonzaga University. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 28 years.


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