Etherious Natsu Dragneel 

The E.N.D. Is Near…  

You can’t control your demons if you are one…  

I’m at war with the world and they
Try to pull me into the dark
I struggle to find my faith
As I’m slippin’ from your arms

It’s getting harder to stay awake
And my strength is fading fast
You breathe into me at last

I’m awake I’m alive
Now I know what I believe inside
Now it’s my time
I’ll do what I want ‘cause this is my life
Here, right here
Right now, right now
Stand my ground and never back down
I know what I believe inside
I’m awake and I’m alive

I’m at war with the world cause I
Ain’t never gonna sell my soul
I’ve already made up my mind
No matter what I can’t be bought or sold

When my faith is getting weak
And I feel like giving in
You breathe into me again… 



Trust in someone means that we no longer have to protect ourselves. We believe we will not be hurt or harmed by the other, at least not deliberately. We trust his or her good intentions, though we know we might be hurt by the way circumstances play out between us. We might say that hurt happens; it’s a given of life. Harm is inflicted; it’s a choice some people make.
—  David Richo
Live your life like you’re 80 looking back on your teenager years. You know if your dad calls you at eight in the morning and asks if you want to go out for breakfast. As a teenager you’re like no, I want to sleep. But as an eighty year old looking back you have that breakfast with your dad. It’s just little things like that, that helped me when I was a teenager in terms of making choices you won’t regret.
—  Taylor Swift
There was rarely an obvious branching point in a person’s life. People changed slowly, over time. You didn’t take on step, then find yourself in a completely new location. You first took a little step off a path to avoid some rocks. For a while, you walked alongside the path, but then you wandered out a little way to step on softer soil. Then you stopped paying attention as you drifted farther and farther away. Finally, you found yourself in the wrong city, wondering why the signs on the roadway hadn’t led you better.
—  Brandon Sanderson, The Emperor’s Soul

Maybe you should not  go to college?

A few years ago I wrote a short post about why I think film school isn’t necessarily worth it, and outlined a few free alternatives to an overpriced collegiate film education. A lot of people read that post, and I got a lot of passionate messages from people who responded to it .

In the years since I have spent a lot of time thinking about college. I feel like I should use this platform to share what is still a (surprisingly) radical thought… maybe you shouldn’t go. At least not yet.

I’m not saying you definitely shouldn’t go, I’m saying MAYBE you shouldn’t go. Maybe. Just think about it.

Now, obviously this post won’t apply to everybody. 

Here are three kinds of people who it may not apply to.

  1. Rich people. How do you know if you are rich? Could your parents easily pay the full costs of a four year university, twice over, without really damaging their savings? Congratulations! You’re rich! Don’t be ashamed, embrace it, it’s fine, it just means you have more leeway to make mistakes than most people.
  2. People who live somewhere (like Denmark) where education is effectively free or very low cost. For the most part I’m going to be talking about the American education system, which is the only one with which I have any sort of extensive experience.
  3. You’re older, you have a lot of life experience, and you’re ready to return to school or attend college for the first time. Make your own decisions, you don’t need to listen to me.

Those are the people that this doesn’t apply to.

So who exactly am I writing this for?

I know that a lot of the 45,000 people who read this blog are young people, people who may be finishing high school and figuring out who they want to be in the world. This post is written for them, because it represents a viewpoint that very few people around them, especially adults, are going to express.

These young people are facing some very serious challenges right now, but the adults in their lives are not educating them about this. Many adults are choosing to embrace a nostalgic and willfully ignorant conception of how the world works, a concept that doesn’t reflect the experiences their children are going to have in life.

Perversely, you, the child, are going to have to educate your parents. You are going to have to be informed and advocate for yourself.

The reality in 2015 is that college is, in horse racing terms, a bad bet. Especially for 18 years olds who don’t know who they are yet.

Everything Old People Tell You About College is Wrong

Here are a few myths:

1. “Just get your degree, even if you don’t want to. You’ll be better off. People with degrees make more money. You’ll be better off.”

There are a number of problems with this. Graduates are coming out of school and falling (in incredibly high numbers) into jobs that are essentially unskilled labor, jobs they could have gotten without going to college. What’s worse, they can’t save anything, because any extra money they make is going to pay off their student loans. They are stuck, they can’t leave their bad jobs because they are in unimaginable debt. Better off? Really?

2. “You need to go to college to learn how to be a person, to socialize and meet people.”

Okay. Quick thought exercise. Think of ten ways to meet people, ten places to go to socialize, ten websites you could use to connect with people who might share your interests. Did anything that you thought of cost a hundred and fifty thousand dollars? You need college to make friends and socialize? Really?

Those ways of thinking don’t really work anymore. Your parents are likely unable to recognize just how vastly the price vs. reward differential has shifted since they want to college. College is 12x more expensive than it was when they were young. The idea that a person can “work their way” through school is also completely ludicrous now.

So instead of waiting tables and taking out a small loan to pay tuition, like your parents might have, you will instead take out unimaginable sums in student loan money. You will then attend school for awhile. You may then end up waiting tables… and sending your tips straight to Sallie Mae in the form of monthly student loan payments. Better off?

On the subject of people who don’t understand you or care about your future, your high school guidance counselors. They are demon spawn. They don’t care about you, and they are not interested in taking time to actually understand your strengths and weaknesses or to diagnose the ways in which you may be able to provide value to society and yourself.

Okay, so that’s other people, but what about YOU?

Have you had these thoughts?

1.“All my friends are going to college. If I don’t go immediately, I will look like a burnout and a loser.”

Whether you go to college or not, most of your high school friends will slip away into a place of relative irrelevancy to your daily life. Your strongest relationships will be with people who will respect your choices. The social structure of high school that you have spent four years mastering will quickly fade into dust, and most of the skills it taught you will be useless. This will be true whether you head to college or not.

2. “If I don’t go to college, I won’t know other young people, and no one will have sex with me. I want to know young people, and I want them to have sex with me. I should go to college!”

This is also a stupid reason to go to college. There are many ways to meet people who will have sex with you that don’t involve spending a hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

If you are a Dubai billionaire, you have probably experienced many different ways to meet people and have sex with them that DO cost a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. But in that case your life situation is not relatable for me, and I have nothing to say to you. You are a wondrous being.

For everyone else, there are a lot of ways to meet people who will want to be with you and touch you and stuff. A quick look through my Tumblr timeline suggests to me that many people are using this blogging platform for that very purpose. Even if you do not consider yourself conventionally attractive, there are many ways in which you can meet people and make connections online that are (in my opinion) no more dangerous than the drug fueled anarchy that dominates campus life.

3.I should go to college and experience drug fueled anarchy. That’s what young people do. Smokz whead erryday, son.”

If your goal is to experience drug fueled anarchy, there are definitely cheaper ways to do that. But you might want to think about that goal for a minute. If you don’t participate in drug fueled anarchy you might find yourself having the following experience:

You will have close friends who will hang out with you less and less. They will develop a new group of friends that will talk really loud and fast, and always be going somewhere to do something you will not understand. They will post a lot of pictures of themselves and others looking red in the face while they do things you do not understand. It will seem for awhile that these people may in fact be cooler than you, and that the key to being cool is to do things you do not understand with people who talk loud and fast and hold red cups in pictures.

At some point, your friend will fall off the face of the earth for a while. The pictures will stop. They will stop hanging out with their other loud friends, who will also stop posting pictures. All is quiet on the western front.

And suddenly, that friend will be calling you again. They will say that they miss you, miss having real friends, who actually talked about things and cared about stuff. They will say you should hang out again.

And something weird will happen… you won’t want to.

It took them four years and a hundred and fifty grand to become the person they were when this whole thing started. So maybe drug fueled anarchy is also a bad reason to go to college.

Okay, if I don’t go to college… what should I do?

Most people put the same amount of thought into their college major that they put into their answer to the 1st grade question “who do you want to be when you grow up?” College students may not be as likely to say they want to be a mermaid or an astronaut, but they are just as likely to say something that won’t pan out or fulfill them.

I’m not saying you should never go to college, but you certainly shouldn’t go to college YET if you are just going to change your major three times and end up with a degree in something you don’t even care about.

People like to talk about “following your dreams.” I have mixed feelings about this phrase. The problem with dreams is that only we can see them. They are powerful, but ephemeral. A dream is private, and within you, so it is a hard thing to “follow.” A phrase that means more to me is this one, “find where you provide value.” 

What is within you that is valuable, to yourself and others? You need to find something you can do that will be satisfying for you, and that others will be so pleased with that they will want to compensate you. There are things we enjoy doing that no one else will ever reward us for, likewise there are things we are capable of doing well that we will eventually learn to despise and lose focus on. The sweet spot lies somewhere in-between those extremes.

Audition Your Dreams

If you think you have found a career path you really want, here’s what I think is a good method for making sure you’re right. Talk to five people who do that thing. Don’t ask them for the sales pitch, don’t ask them why they love what they do. Ask them what they hate about it, ask them what keeps them up at night, ask them what it is about their life that drives them to despair.

Better to know now than later. This is definitely a step to embark on BEFORE you take out loans and head to college.

Don’t Listen To Me

I may not know what I am talking about, I acknowledge this, so consider that before you pen an angry and defensive response. Consider how odd it is that people feel compelled to attack any criticism of the necessity of college with the same intensity that they would respond to an attack on their religion. I am merely illustrating an alternative viewpoint.

I may not know what I’m talking about, but I do know that most parents and guidance counselors also do not know what they are talking about. So don’t listen to me, but maybe don’t listen to them either.

College will always be there, waiting for you if you decide it is time. But this moment of innocence, before the loans and pressures of college box you in, this moment only comes once. Almost no one around you is recognizing just how momentous this moment is. Recognize it. Make your own choice.