Manual Labor

Just so you know, this post was going to be about Lady Gaga, but I’ll save that for another time. But beware because that post is coming.

I study communication and, as is true of studying any social science, all you end up doing is writing papers–especially reflection papers. In one semester, I wrote around 65 papers, reflections, and speeches. And guess what? I have little to show for it.

You might be appalled after reading that, especially if you’re a parent helping your child pay $50,000 a year for college. Calm down, I have a point.

I have files filled with Word documents I have written, I have report cards with top-ranking letters and I have knowledge. I will not deny the amount of knowledge I have gained through critical reading and argumentative papers, but there is not much to physically show for my work. At the end of college, you receiveĀ a piece of paper signed by another guy who has two or three pieces of signed paper of his own in exchange for a bunch of papers you’ve written.

The diploma you receive at graduation symbolizes a set of skills, this I understand. But there is something about putting in a lot of hard work and not having a physical representation.

During the hottest week of May, I spent my time laboring on the side of my house where thousands of weeds grow. The side of my house is one of the largest weed cities in North America. After hours and hours of stabbing at the dirt and talking to the worms I disturbed, it was a weed ghost town.

I was proud of myself. The hours I spent weeding were rewarded with a physical trophy–a clean side yard. You avid gardeners know what I’m talking about.

There is such a difference between the achievement of toiling in dirt and academics. They look very different and there are times I question what I am doing and why I am doing it.

Why do my papers matter? Why am I reading books that may or may not contain truth? Why do I want a diploma? Am I tall enough to have a career? College makes you question your desires.

My ultimate desire is to change the world. Changing the world requires dedication and hard work in an area of concentration. Why on earth does changing the world require a college education? Where do the books and papers come into play? When will the books I have read and the papers I have written matter?

Time spent in literature and in critical thinking is not time wasted. There may be no tangible resultĀ now, but change can be a slow process.

People create change through hard work and critical thinking. A great example of this is Martin Luther King Jr. He spoke and wrote words that inspired a nation for decades. He thought critically about situations and sought innovative ways to approach them. MLK’s actions correlated with his words. He did not move to action without assessing the situation and applying his knowledge. MLK’s created tangible change and his words, his accomplice, have outlived him.

Education is not a waste of time, it is a tool. Every class I have taken provided me with a new set of lenses to apply to situations. I have been trained to compose creative solutions and to apply them to situations that matter. My education, while forces me to write a lot of papers, has prepared my mind to make change when I begin a career. I will be equipped with tools to create tangible change. My education will manifest itself as a transformative agent in a world that requires change.

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