The College Rock And A Hard Place

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
Jim Belushi wearing a college sweatshirt, making a confused face

Photo credit: Animal House/Universal Pictures. (I’ve never seen the movie, but this came to me in a google search result :-P)

I’ve talked a lot (maybe not on the blog, but in real life)¬†over the past couple of years about going back to college.

I’ve always had these two different sides of me – the side who wants to be educated in everything and hold at least two (or three) advanced degrees, and the side who says, “buck the system! I don’t need no stinking college!”

I’m gonna leave the subject of whether college is a good idea until tomorrow. But today, I want to talk about how colleges don’t seem to give me a lot of options – or perhaps I just didn’t give myself many. Nonetheless, I have boxed myself in a little corner when it comes to college.

As has been mentioned probably a million times on the blog, in high school I took practically all performing arts classes. I literally do not have the minimum high school requirements to get into most colleges (foreign language, advanced math, etc.).

I will say that I can’t regret high school, because it was truly amazing. I loved (mostly) every second of it. I could’ve probably taken some online classes in the summer to fill out a transcript. But, I don’t wish that I had taken anything else at the school. And I certainly don’t wish I’d taken any fewer performing arts classes.

But I am really far behind on requirements to get into school as a freshman.

Now, technically, I actually could take some online high school classes (which is not an awful idea). Or, I could apply as a transfer.

But, here’s where I’m really screwed. I have a whole bunch of credits from Berklee – more than two years worth, due to taking more than the “maximum” credits during certain semesters. (I put maximum in quotes, because you take more than that). Add to that a bunch of test-outs (plus 4 community college classes I took online while working in California to round out all those gen-ed classes). It’s practically raining credits for me after all that.

So, I almost have to apply as a transfer to most places.

However, I’ve reached the threshold where tons of places won’t even let me apply anymore. Once you have more than two years worth of credits, many places won’t let you apply – even if you’re willing to do three, four, or however many years at their school. Even if you’re willing to forego a lot of your credits because you know a lot of them won’t transfer, they don’t care.

Anything over two years? That’s just too much, says college.

I think the feeling is that you should finish at your current institution. Look, I love music. I desperately want to write a musical that ends up on Broadway. I work toward that. I apply to programs and festivals and such.

But just because I love music doesn’t mean I necessarily still want a Bachelor of Music. When you go to a “normal” school, if you decide you’d rather study political science than biology, or women’s studies instead of mathematics, you can do that.

At Berklee if you don’t want to study music… uh, what are you doing there? You can go to a different concentration of music. But it’s all music based… As it should be! When I graduated high school, I thought, “forget every other subject out there, baby! I want a college experience just like my high school one.”

And I was so happy a place like Berklee existed. (I would not have done well at a liberal arts school.)

But now that time has passed, I’m thinking I might, maybe, want to actually learn about some other things in the world. The best writers I know are actually extremely well-educated.

Homer Simpson on a big swinging ball between a rock and a hard place

credit: Matt Groening/Fox (The Simpsons)

I’m not saying you can’t be well-educated at Berklee, I’m just saying it’s not the college experience that I’m currently seeking.

Getting back to all those schools who don’t take people after they’ve done anything over two years, a Bachelor of Music is different from a Bachelor of Science. People view it differently. It opens different doors. And most importantly, it’s a totally different experience.

So, even if you have over two years worth of credits, I believe you should be able to change your mind and go after a different degree (which means going to a different place).

Berklee knows this because they even allow people to get a second bachelor’s if they already have a BA or BS!

I will say, I am getting close to crossing the threshold of being able to be in programs for people who’ve been out of school a certain amount of time, or are a certain age. There aren’t as many programs, but they exist. And those are probably pretty much my only options if I want to go to college-college.

I don’t think colleges were made for me… or I didn’t make myself for college.

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?