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We are Not Identical Gingerbread Men; We Are Unique Individuals
Our current society has put a narrow focus on the benefits of getting a higher education. It uses arguments like; getting a college degree will help you get your dream job, make you well rounded and help you achieve a successful future. All of this is true, but not for everyone. Humans weren’t created to fit into cookie cutter molds. Everyone is different and we should revel in that. But yet young adults feel the pressured by our society to follow suit by graduating high school and going to college in order to get a good job. However, not everyone is fit for college life, whether it is financially, academically or mentally. So why are we continuing to pressure our young adults to conform into a mold in which they will never be able to thrive and grow?
In Alex Kern’s essay “Don’t Drop Out; Why There’s Still Value in College”, he makes the argument that college allows for people to learn their physical, emotional and mental limits. Kern is not wrong in this statement and while learning these limits will definitely help you in the real world situations, since when can’t you gain that knowledge in any other pursuit than college? The answer is that you can. Not everyone needs a textbook and a heavy class load to become successful; some people excel at learning trades and having a good work ethic.
Strohush and Wanner found that almost half of the students that start at a four-year college will never walk across the stage with a diploma in hand. It’s not because these people that go to college that don’t reach graduation because they are lazy, failures or are stupid. They may simply fit in to a different mold that’s not college centered. So why did they go to college if they didn’t fit that mold to begin with you might ask? This is because we are taught from the time we were born to the day we graduate high school that college is the answer to everything. But in teaching us this they don’t give us the real world statistics that only half of us will end with a degree in hand.
A degree isn’t a golden ticket into the work force; even college graduates are struggling now more than in past years finding a job. Yes, once you finally obtain a job you obviously will be making more than the fry cook at McDonald’s who only has a high school degree. However, you will likely have thousands of dollars to pay back in student loans. Experiences are a great thing to acquire but they can be acquired in other ways besides just on a college campus. You can gain valuable experiences through trade school, military or just working in a restaurant, which many of us fail to see as valuable. All experiences are valuable because they teach us skills and lessons.
Kern’s essay is great for people who fall into the college education mold. College is a great thing for people who can excel in that environment. But those people who don’t fit the college mold shouldn’t feel forced to conform or feel less accomplished than those who did go to college. We are all individuals and should take pride in our personal abilities and talents. While we may work to perfect different skills, regardless of the path through which they were achieved, the end result will be beneficial to us financially and to our community, whether we received a college education or not.

Arthur Chandler

College is something not everyone has the privilege to enjoy. For students lucky enough to have this opportunity, they often think about the other side of the tracks. They wonder if they could have success in the real world without a college experience. In truth , they very well could. But college is about finding out how high you can go, not just making it. Students have been selected because of their potential , they are the cream of the crop. Universities ponder over students tediously to find out who can offer something to make the school better. If a student gains acceptance they have shown an ability to exceed the work of their peers. Now if these students are so well off after high school why shouldn't they just start working and avoid the hole college debt creates? Its simply because they have an even greater opportunity to improve their skills. In high school these students were the best around, and by attending a university they have now entered into an area of people who are equally as successful as them. If they go to school with a new group of hand picked students, they will feel a new sense of competition. The students that excelled in high school now face greater challenges in college. They face a new obstacle , to outdo the work of their classmates, and they must show that they can still stand above their collegiate peers. Now what if a person started immediately working? They would have 4 years of working experience before the other person even graduates. Would that be a way to elevate yourself in the working world, for a much cheaper price? For the time being it would, but as that person has been working and more or less stagnant with their education, college graduates have learned the ropes of higher level jobs. They have become more suitable for greater position because they did not need to focus on the lower positions. The other gain of having this college experience is the networking. People always mention "Its not what you know, its who you know" referring to the idea relationships are more important than talent. In many cases jobs will go to a person who holds the best relation to an employer. By attending college students are finding a network of people who are striving for success, and their relationships can open doors to greater career paths. Not to say those who do not go to college do not have the ability to network, they just will not get the same quality of networking. If a person is surrounded by students accepted into college, they are around people who can get a step ahead in the working world. Networking in college is meeting with future employers, and networking outside college is meeting future employees. The article discusses that college is a form of a safety net. I think a more appropriate way of looking at college is that it is a stepping stool. College helps individuals stand out when looking for a career. Often employers look for the best they can find, or someone they have good relations with, and a college degree helps puts them on a fast track to success.

Kayla Adkins

Question #4

Yes I agree with Kern's claim because I have already endeavored an experience that tested my limits, creativity, and also my learning opportunities. I am currently enrolled in an acting class. I have never been the one to be in theater or who has wanted to become an actor but I thought this class would be fun. I am also shy so I thought it would bring me out of my shell a little bit. By taking this class it has shown me that I can stretch not only my body but also my mind to things I thought I never would have. This experience is also good for me because I am a nursing major, so by taking this class it should help me cope with some of the over dramatic patients. This relates to Kern's statement because if he never stayed in school he would not have been able to experience different types of classes even though they do not go with his major. These classes are going to help you become a better well rounded person because you will know more than just your major.

Ann Landreville

Prior to reading this essay and just looking at the title: "Don't Drop Out", I was reluctant to read it. I was expecting it to be the same as what we have always heard from our mothers , fathers, and teachers. I was expecting just another lesson on why we should stay in college and how it will make us more likely to get the careers of our dreams, it will give us a safety net for out future, blah blah blah. However, this article has completely caught me by surprise. Although Alex's situation in college is different than many others and most students will never have the same experience as him, I do believe in his views and I completely agree with his opinions on school. I think his stance on "bad classes" is absolutely true and every student should strive to choose classes with teachers and professors that push them out of their comfort zone yet keep them engaged in the class. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't take classes that do not interest you as of now and may not be valuable to what your future plans are. You should! It will help you become a well-rounded person and expand your world of learning. Another point that Alex makes is that many of colleges most important lessons do not come from a textbook. No, school is a huge shove that will test your emotional, physical, and mental limits. It's not just the classes and the books and the tests. It's the people around you, the memories you will make, the experiences that you will never forget. Alex states that the most important thing he has done in his entire college experience is surround himself with a community of friends that challenges him in every way. He sums it up perfectly: "There will never be another time — not even at a startup — when you will be surrounded by such a concentration of peers encouraging and enabling you to learn more." Also, his simple, yet strong statement "Live your life" is something that I firmly believe in. What he is saying is that you will never be the next Bill Gates or the new Steve Jobs, you will only be you. So be the best you that you can be and strive for your own successes. And contrary to many peoples belief that every student must have a five-year plan and their future goals must be laid out before them, Alex believes that college is a place where you discover you and there is no plan for that. We must take advantage of this time that is given to us in our lives and push ourselves to meet new people, find new things, do something that we might otherwise think is crazy, and yes most importantly find ourselves. Another idea of society that Alex rejects is the idea that we must either hurry up and finish college and get out into the world or we must drop out and hit the ground running and focus on succeeding as soon as possible. There are a countless number of things that you can do while still in college that will set you on your road to success. And because you are in college, you can use the resources around you to your advantage. Teachers, advisors, other students, friends- all of these things will help you accomplish things that would otherwise be very difficult doing alone while trying to start your own business. And Alex isn't saying that we HAVE to stay in college to succeed. Sometimes we are on the road to success and classes get in the way of doing what we want to do and that is a completely acceptable reason for dropping out. Again, Alex nails it in his statement: "All that matters is that you do something that you care about." All the things that Alex covers in this essay are things that every student should learn before applying for colleges and even to students that are in college now. The things in this essay cannot be taught to us by an instructor or be said to us by our principal. This is the here and now of college, and its what we should be learning instead of the "motherly" reasons they give us at school. This is REAL.

Kayla Adkins

Even though Kelsey and I are not on the same page with our feelings on the topic, she does have a very valid point that college is not for everyone. Kelsey states that,"Not everyone is fit for college life, whether it is financially, academically or mentally." This is very true because statistics show that half of the students that enroll in a four year college will not walk across the stage to receive their diploma. In making this comment, Kelsey responds this by stating, "Not everyone needs a textbook and a heavy class load to become successful; some people excel at learning trades and having a good work ethic."

Emily Duff

Kern states that “school is a catalyst for experiences that teach you your physical, emotional, and mental limits. When combined with academics, an undergraduate program offers you the greatest variety of opportunities to acquire new skills….” Based on your own experience, do you agree with Kern’s claim? Even if you are just beginning your college journey, you have probably already had an experience or two that tested your limits and offered a learning opportunity. Describe such an experience. Using Kern as your They Say and your description as evidence, argue a position that supports or rebuts Kerr’s assertion

-I agree with kerns claim, even though this is only the forth week of college I have experienced situations that has lead me to push my limits and offered a learning opportunity that has allowed me to realize hoe I can adapt new skills and improve the ones I have. During this semester I am in marching band which does require extra time even though it is considered a class. I also working two jobs on the weekends, most people would be surprised that I am doing this but what they also don't understand is that marching band is not just a mon-friday class, it is also on the weekends. being in marching band and working has really helped me buckle down on my time management skills and improve on them as there is no time to waste as a nursing major. even though there is a limited number of hours of free time while your in this major and working I agree when Kern states "There are a lot of activities you can only experience while at school". Marching band is my activity and I am glad I can experience it while at college. Marching band is like having a second family, you get really close with them as you are always together and you get to understand others in a deeper level and you act like family. if there is a problem you know you can always turn to them for help.

Josh Coterell

While Kern states that “school is a catalyst for experiences that teach you your physical, emotional, and mental limits. When combined with academics, an undergraduate program offers you the greatest variety of opportunities to acquire new skills….” I say that I agree with his claim. I have had my share of experiences that make up his catalyst. I experienced my first time being actually homesick and I had to improve my mental capabilities so that I could carry on with my school work and reach out to others so that I wasn't in a shell. I also joined in a few clubs which helped me transition into the community. The experiences and opportunities that I have in college will transfer with me wherever I go in the world. If I had dropped out then I wouldn't know how to handle being homesick or get a chance to try things new with people of my age. If and when Kern had decided to drop out than he would have never gained these opportunities to try something new and interesting, that at this age our young minds desperately crave.

Demarco Garcia

According to Kern "school is a catalyst for experiences that teach you your physical, emotional, and mental limits. When combined with academics, an undergraduate program offers you the greatest variety of opportunities to acquire new skills…." So far from my experiences, I personally do agree with Kern. I actually have had an experience that has tested my limits although I just began my first freshmen semester.I believe school teaches you your physical, emotional, and mental limits to an extent.An experience I am willing to share is when I had a 4 page paper due the next morning that I completely forgot about. It tested my physical limits because I had practice and was exhausted to the max. It tested my emotional limit because I was angry and frustrated with the assignment with having to do it last minute.It tested me mentally by achieving the assignment with so many obstacles to get over to attain doing so. That night definitely showed me my limits for sure. Things like that acquire new skills. The skill I believe I attained that night was adversity.

Emily Duff

I agree with Kayla, "These classes are going to help you become a better well rounded person because you will know more than just your major" this is very important in being a well rounded person. you want to be able to relate to others at their level and connect with them. As a nursing major we will encounter many different types of people as well as others from different cultures and we want to be able to understand and respect their wishes.

Kayla Adkins

In Ann Landreville's comment I agree with mostly everything she is stating including, "School is a huge shove that will test your emotional, physical, and mental limits. It's not just the classes and the books and the tests." College is not just about getting good grades but making sure that you develop as a person. Thus meaning getting involved in activities in or around the community because employers look at your involvement and not just your grade. Kern made a very important statement that Landreville agreed with and that is, "So be the best you that you can be and strive for your own successes." That is the most important thing in life is making sure you are happy with your decisions and succeed for yourself.

Emily Duff

I agree with ana," Live your life" is something that everyone should believe in and strive for. if you don't live your life in college then what will you do when you get out? you wont know where to start. Taking classes that help you find out who you are as a person and challenge you will allow you to realize what you like and don't like in the world.

Sara Kurzmiller

Question #1:
As Alex Kern presents a number of criticisms, after reading the following points he comments about, I feel he presents them fairly because they are in fact his opinions on certain studies. One example study was, "A college education makes you more likely to get the job of your dreams." In this case he responded that it is true for most professions, but not enough to keep him motivated. Another was, "Many success people have college degrees." While he may not agree he points out it does not make him happy. In my own opinion many people are successful without a college degrees. For instance, Steve Jobs, founder of apple. Lastly, "A degree gives you a safety net to fall back on." He feels he wants to do something he loves now, not waiting for in this case a degree to fall on. Concluding, while giving his own incite on the studies presented, clearly shows a better understanding of where he stands with college.

Kimlie Fleurima

I agree when Alex Kern writes, "There are a lot of activities you can only experience while at school." Kern was considering drooping out of college, he didn't agree with the way the education system. He believes that, "Every discipline, by its very nature, has a different way of learning." I believe he did present his criticisms fairly. Even though he disagreed with some things, he still decided to stay in college, because the out come of getting a degree is more beneficial than not to have one. Explain " A college education makes you more likely to get the job of your dreams" ect. Although college isn't for everyone there is a college for everyone.

Demarco Garcia

I agree with josh when we wrote "The experiences and opportunities that I have in college will transfer with me wherever I go in the world." he is definitely right when he feels as if this will correlate to reality outside of college. As we'll as Ana. I agree with her when she says it will help you find out who you are as a person.

Jack O'Connell

Alex Kern points out several complaints about staying in college in his article "Don't Drop Out: Why there's still value in college." Kern himself writes, "the reward was to nebulous... having a degree is a dubious casual claim... I want to do something I love - Now!" Kern is also corroborating the age-old adage that, "a degree in (English, Sociology, Psychology, etc.) doesn't translate to skills in the workplace." In other words, students believe, "a technical degree is more valuable than a non-technical degree." Kern's criticisms are fair, most of the skills learned in your prerequisite classes might not be used in your work. However, Kern's point is that, "the most valuable courses don’t prescribe what to learn, but how to learn."
I agree with Ann in that college gives us a sense of realism. Unlike high school where if you mess-up you can just try again tomorrow, college is a harder place to practice your skills. If you mess-up in college you can try again next semester but it'll cost you more money. Whereas in life if you mess-up, its highly unlikely you'll get a second chance.

Sara Kurzmiller

I agree with what Demarco is saying that school experience shapes who you are. Also, I like the way he expresses the examples on Kerns claim on education.

Melanie A

I agree with Kern's claim about how school is a catalyst for experiences that teach you your physical, emotional, and mental limits. As a freshman, I've attended some events that would help to keep me busy instead of staying in my room. I've met a lot of new people with different personalities. In meeting those people, It has taught me to adapt as person in different situations. I could be having great time with someone who is outgoing and spontaneous, but I'd have to be serious with someone who is intellectual and professional. I've encountered so many people already and I've learned that although everyone has their own unique personality, there are some cases where you just have to act a certain way in order adapt to those around you. When Kern states that "school forces you outside your comfort zone." This is statement is true, my experience has forced me to approach other people who seem intimidating and adapt to their nature. School is sort of a battlefield for yourself, but it teaches great values in the long run.

Sara Kurzmiller

I agree with what Kelsey is saying when she addresses that a college degree is not, "the golden ticket," she says. This ultimately meaning that to be successful you can be successful without a degree. For instances, an example I also used in my response to Kerns article, Steve Jobs did not have any form of schooling to ready start his career in Apple Inc.

Melanie A

I agree with Sara's response on how Kern states that "A college education makes you more likely to get the job of your dreams." I believe that I share the same opinion as Sara does. There are a lot of people who become millionaires or are even successful without a degree. I believe that it takes dedication and hard work to achieve that greatness as well. Another a person that I would like to use as an example is Tyler Perry. As a matter of fact, Tyler Perry did not even complete High school.

Melanie A

I agree with Kayla's response on Kern's statement. There are activities a person can only enjoy in college and those experiences can enhance potential characteristics that can develop throughout the years. There is also the thought of making life long friends and making memories that could last forever. If a person were to drop out of college then they would miss out on those unique opportunities in being a part of something,

Kaylin Graham

According to the students in "Don't Drop Out", attending a liberal arts school is a waste of time and it is better to learn or study something that is more practical.Along with the complaints of other students, Alex Kern himself writes, “ Bad classes with bad curriculum taught by bad teachers are a waste of your time.” In addition, Alex Kerns points out his I feel that he presents his criticisms fairly because he backs up his criticisms by expressing that each and every field of study has “technical worth” and should not be overlooked just because it is not a path that is somewhat “realistic”. For instance, a degree in fashion design or any other career that requires some sort of innovation. These types of career paths would be know as impractical based on the fact that it is difficult to be successful in any of them. Usually when students attend university, they pick stable majors such as education, criminal law, or even accounting. However, individuals can go on to learn technical things in any field. Alex Kern goes on to say that “Every discipline, by its very nature, has a different way of learning” and it is a new way of learning. I agree with Sara when she says that earning a college degree is the only way to be successful. It is important for young people to realize that college is not for everyone and that it ultimately comes down to what you want to do with your life. I also agree with Melanie pointing out that going through the college experience can take you out of your comfort zone. It requires you to become more independent and teaches tests you to become more proactive in you learning.

Joanna B

"Don't Drop Out" by Alex Kern, holds many truths to the minds of young people who may be overwhelmed with college, or just school in general. At first glance, people may be reluctant to read this article because, they automatically assume that it's going to be a lecture that every parent and teacher has given a student that is struggling in school. The thing that makes this article different however, is that it is told from a person who had this issue first hand. Personally, I think that it makes his argument more justifiable because he tells about his experience. He does support the fact that school in general, especially college, teaches students certain life skills that they wouldn't necessarily learn in the real world. There are a lot of people that have been very successful who never went to college but, that does not apply to everyone. I agree that Kern makes a lot of valid arguments as to why college is important in not only education but also in the shaping of character, a point that needs emphasizing since so many people believe that a college education is useless. College is a time for growth and to try new experiences and the problem is, people only focus on the educational aspect but, there is so much more to it that people have yet to realize.


After reading Alex Kern’s article “Don’t Drop Out” I realized that although it might seem like a decision that is easy to make Alex Kern still had trouble deciding whether or not he should stay in college and finish his education, or drop out and enter a business program. I know many people who were faced with a similar problem before. When Alex Kern was trying to come to a decision, he consulted many websites to get information, and he agreed with people that a college education is more likely to get you the profession of your dreams but at the same time he believed that this wasn’t true for him. It didn’t matter if he got an education or not, he would still be able to enter this program and be well off without an education. When people told him that many successful people have college degrees, he didn’t agree at all. He kind of laughed it off. There were many people out there without a college education and yet they were very successful in their life. He did agree though, that every single field of study had intellectual growth. No matter what you studied it would still help you in the future. After consulting many people, Kern decided that no matter what people say to you, getting a college education is more important.

samuel ballantyne

Experience is key, especially what you learn in and out of class. Alex Kern states that “school is a catalyst for experiences that teach you your physical, emotional, and mental limits." I agree with this statement, college is a very unique place, and Kern truly opens up and expresses some really positive and negative aspects that many of us have, or one day may encounter. There are many students that have the honor and privilege to receive their diploma for their hard work. Yet some have forgotten or even become ungrateful because of the cost. However there are people that don't have the opportunity to even attend college. For those that have the privilege to attend, come to learn that college is honestly scary. Kern states that "school forces you outside your comfort zone." And this is true, we are placed in situations where we have to pop out of our shell. But its also our strength because it opens many of us to seeing we have options. I concur with Kimlie Fleurima and Joanna B that though college is an choice. It allows for everyone that attends, to have the ability to develop more fundamentals and create their own success. We are given the chance to strive for our advance as well as our careers. We are put in new places of the world, usually away from our parents, where we learn to develop individuality and mature even further into our adulthood. From someone who attended college, Kern validates his points in his article as someone with experience. He makes it clear that we all can't just be striving to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. It's better to be yourself and aim to be more than just an idol. Being successful is part of the american dream, and though there are some that have made it without attending college. Not everyone is the same, and we all have different paths to take. Though college is expensive, the memories, fun, and failure you will experience will strengthen you, and allow for you to endeavor and follow your dreams.
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Justin Gorton

They say that going to college will help you get a higher paid job and more benefits. I agree however, college comes with its negatives. For one, as Mr. Kern states that the college courses only teach you the tangible material in order to get through the class. Most of the time it is very clear cut with no room for creativenes. However, one must have experience in the class room and real world in order to succeed in life. He later claims that we cant just go to college striving to be the next Mark Zuckerberg as Mr. Ballantyne states. We no longer live in the American Dream which is why college is almost a necessity to teenagers today if they want to have a long and successful career.

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