Every now and then, a story will go viral about someone completing some sort of crazy academic achievement. It will usually be some story about a Valedictorian with a 5.0 GPA that got accepted to every Ivy League school, or a 10 year old kid that got a job working for NASA. Typically, when these stories come out, the consensus reaction is “Wow, that’s amazing”.
But sometimes these stories come out and instead of being blown away by them, I just say to myself, “Why?”.
The latter is how I felt when I saw this story out of California. Recently a 13 year old graduated with 4 associate’s degrees from a local community college, and although I admit that’s impressive, I also think that he’s wasting his youth.
Now first and foremost, I want to emphasize that I’m not knocking this kid for doing this. Getting a degree of any kind when you’re supposed to be in 7th grade is clearly impressive, and if you haven’t already figured it out by now, I’m an absolute moron. Years of drug and alcohol abuse, combined with an overall lazy attitude and a general dislike for learning, have left me just as stupid as I was when I was a toddler. My only saving grace is that I write somewhat well, which sort of tricks a lot of people into thinking I’m smart. This kid is more than likely smarter and just a better overall person than I am, and I’m willing to swallow my pride and admit that.
Moving on, I guess my lack of amazement for this story is because I just don’t understand the point of doing it, especially at that age. Why take college classes when you could be slacking off in middle school and still getting A’s? Middle school should be spent passing notes to girls and farting loudly in class to a chorus of laughter, not writing thesis papers and getting degrees. Be a kid while you can, because it’s all downhill from there.
And speaking about degrees, I don’t understand why you would spend the time and money getting 4 associate’s degrees instead of 1 bachelor’s degree. 1 bachelor’s degree in a good field will probably benefit you way more than 4 associate’s degrees in random fields will. And don’t give me that, “College is for learning” bullshit. College is for getting a degree and then using it to get a good job afterward, and anybody that thinks otherwise is lying to themselves. If you do truly believe that college is all just for the personal benefit of learning and has nothing to do with employment, I’m going to blow your mind: You don’t have to go to college to be smart and learn things. Haven’t you ever seen Good Will Hunting? If you’re really that determined to learn every single thing under the sun, use the Internet or go to the library and save yourself a ton of money.
I also just can’t get over the fact that this kid is only 13 years old. Like I said already, it’s impressive, but there’s a huge part of me that feels sad watching this kid sacrifice his youth like this. He’s a kid, so why not be a kid? When I was 13, my entire life was pretty much just playing sports and video games with my friends, and jerking off. That’s about it. No bills. No job (Well I had a paper route, so I worked 20 minutes a week). Overall, just no bullshit. If I could go back and trade places with my 13 year old self right now, I would do it in a heart beat. Being a care-free kid riding my bike around with a group of friends sounds way better than being the broke 24 year old with a dead end, 9-5 office job that I am today. That’s why you have to always embrace every moment in life, whether good or bad, because no matter how much you wish you could, you can’t go back.
As ignorant as this might sound on the surface, he’s wasting some of the best years of his life with books and school and he’ll regret it later on. This kid is clearly brilliant, and if I were in his shoes, I would just play dumb, breeze my way through middle and high school while having the time of your life, and then get all of your higher education done when you have to at the appropriate age. Why let the real world destroy you earlier than it has to?
I know I sound like a bitter old man trying to give out last minute advice from my death bed, but that’s just how I feel about this situation and the education-to-youth dynamic in general. Growing up too fast never works out well for anybody, so stop accelerating your growth and just let it happen gradually. There will always be time to get a degree, but there’s only one time to be a kid.
PS: When I originally set out to write this blog, I was planning on making it a funny blog that poked fun at this kid for being a nerd or whatever. But as I continued writing, I realized that I was clearly projecting my own feelings on youth and education onto this story. It made me reflect on the past, so I switched course and it came out a lot more profound than I thought it would. That’s why I love writing: Even as the author, you never really know where it’s going to take you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend the rest of the day wishing I was a kid again