Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Work vs.College

I've been out of school for two years now and working in "Corporate America." Upon leaving my alma mater Umass-Amherst I wondered if I would miss it. I had heard about the monotony of everyday work life and had taken everything from my favorite movie Office Space to heart. The idea of spending 80% of your waking hours for the next 40 years of life in a small office is pretty scary. What I've realized after all this time is that their are good and bad qualities about work and school.Ultimately though, I'm as happy now as I've ever been. I've realized that I am more antiquated toward the 9-5 lifestyle then the college life.

Don't get me wrong though, college was awesome. You are in a place with all people the same age, and it is the really the only time in life that you are essentially equal to everyone else. No one has any money, so people are on a level playing field. At a big school like Umass it is a virtual guarantee you will meet at least a few people you can get along with and hang out with. It is the safety net of life. One last time in life to use the excuse "well I'm in college."

Everything is all in one spot on a college campus. You usually have food provided, you have gym access that is usually free of charge, and generally always have enough people to play. You have libraries with computers, places to study, groups to join. All within a couple mile radius. There is so much freedom, and depending on your major, little responsibility if you have even decent time management.

The negatives of college and school in general were homework and the ridiculousness of course requirements. In fact, this goes for all levels of schooling. Most of the knowledge I've used in the working world I learned in elementary school. Why do I need to take a class in Ancient Chinese History. It all depends on your major I guess. If you are trying to be a doctor or engineer it is one thing, but it is hard to concentrate and write papers on things that you know are utterly useless to you in the real world. By the end of college I don't think I could've written another paper. You learn the art of BSing starting in high school, and those that are best at that I am convinced are most successful in college, especially on papers. Hell, they are probably the best in the working world too. For me, I've always needed to do everything for a reason. In high school you tried for good grades to get into a good college. In college, sure it looks good to have a good GPA on your resume, but it really doesn't matter that much. It really all depends on who you know.

The 9-5 really suits me for several reasons. First off, my brain shuts off after about 6:00pm , so I do my best work in the morning. I did homework at night in college maybe 2 or 3 times. I'm telling you I'm a freaking weirdo. I'm an old man, 24 going on 64. Also, I'm extremely routinized. In college I had no real set schedule to follow so I made up my own. I would go to class, do my homework, hit the gym, go home, and play basketball at night. Basically everyday the same thing and you know what it worked for me. I'm the most predictable man on the planet. Sure, work is monotonous at times, but overall I like and am pretty good at what I do. I work with some great people and my manager is great and let's me work at my own pace. In saying that, everything that is stereotyped about corporate America is true, and probably even more extreme. But I will get into that on another blog.

To be honest though, the debate to what is better all comes down to cabbage. By cabbage I mean money. I had pretty much no money in college. I frequently had to choose between having dinner and buying 2 40 ounce Busch Light Beers. If my car broke down, sure my parents would help out, but I couldn't afford it myself. When you don't have money you don't have freedom. I'm not saying I have a lot of money now by any means, but I don't have to worry about buying a slice of pizza anymore. Working for money is a lot easier than working to graduate because it is a short term goal. In college, you did a paper and there was always 50 papers afterward with nothing concrete to show for it till graduation. At work at least you know your getting paid for being there.
Plus, weekends are amazing. No homework on Sunday's to distract you from football. On Friday afternoon you know you have two days to do whatever you want. Nothing like waking up on a Sunday morning, eating some waffles, and kicking back with a few friends, some wings, and some beer and watching football. Especially when you are a Patriots fan.

The work vs. college debate is a good one. I would venture to say that most people my age probably still miss college but I definitely don't. I miss the people Jim, Billy D, Mark, Steve, and all the others who were and will always be some of my closest friends, but I don't miss college as an institution. The fact is you have to move on in life and in the big scheme of things college is just a small blip. That is the scariest thing about work, it is practically never ending, but at least your getting paid along the way.

Sorry for the long blog but I figure I hadn't written for 2 weeks so why not. I'd be interested to hear your opinions on what you like better. Back to work!

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