May 10th, 2005

Illustmaker me

Odd thoughts on my education

I was looking at census.gov earlier, and I realized why going to college felt like entering some weird alien environment. In my town, less than 20% of people had a college education. In my county, it was less than 15% (11.3%, to be depressingly accurate). I remember thinking it was slightly odd when my English teacher told the advanced class, "Some of you might be thinking about college... or maybe GCC." This was the advanced class. So it was a real culture shock to meet people whose high schools had been competitive and who had worried not just about college, but about name colleges. (Granted, I personally only looked at schools ranked "VERY SELECTIVE" or above by Peterson's, and it was specifically to get into that situation, but I figured I'd be competing with other applicants to the schools; it never occurred to me that it would have been competitive at high school, where the college-bound more or less clung together for support.) People had done stuff, traveled places, taken courses that were just beyond my comprehension, because it had never crossed my mind that high school wasn't more or less high school--aka, a place you wandered through while daydreaming about other things and getting as much knowledge as you could wring out of the library, if you happened to feel like it.

Hmm. It was a middling education rather than a poor one, for a'that and a'that, and Lord knows I've seen worse since, in places that didn't have New York State looking over their shoulders to make sure they hit a minimum. But until I looked at those numbers, it never really hit home just how much difference geography made.

[Nonsequitor]And while I was thinking of odd things my teachers have said over the years, I remembered my ninth grade science teacher explaining Mendelian genetics like this: "I have little beady blue eyes. My wife has little beady blue eyes. If one of my kids had had big brown eyes, I'd be taking a hard look at the mailman."[/Nonsequitor]