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The Original "Getting Real"

The Original "Getting Real"
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Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Price of A Few Letters After Your Name

It's interesting how scornful or amused we are by the people who buy titles on-line. Apparently, for various amounts of money, one can buy an aristocratic title of count, countess, baron or anything else, and the title comes with a certificate to authenticate it. Anyone can choose the title or the area (rather like choosing number plates on cars) and the certificate - nothing more than a glossy piece of paper - acts as proof of purchase. Of course, the higher class version of this is being granted the title by whatever government happens to be 'in power' (whatever that means) in return for filling the party coffers. It's an age-old means of buying self-esteem and the idea that a title impresses other and gives one access to the echelons of power (whatever that means, too!).

It looks ridiculous but is it any more ridiculous than the millions of people all over the world who dedicate 3, 4 or 5 years of their lives to purchase some letters after their name? During those years, it used to be possible to have a lot of fun. Students were notorious for being rowdy, lazy, drinking too much, finding some kind of pleasure in the necessity of bringing traffic cones home, and having deep and meaningless conversations about anything and working out their delayed adolescent angst. Having been there, I must say it was fun in its way. Nowadays student life is quite different
and many, having worked their way through university in order to pay the fees, leave with enormous debts...and, of course, the letters after their names.

Politicians are constantly spouting about the need to make university places more accessible to more people; and people are constantly responding by feeling the need to have a degree...but what does it really mean? It means that you conform your essays to what the powers-that-be want you to say; it means you fit the system and think you are rebelling, but you're not. It means, basically, you pay out loads of money and come out with a piece of paper saying someone else decided you were this clever, that clever, or just mediocre (or a failure) and you can write some letters after your name. Basically, a degree or any other qualification is simply gaining authenticity from someone else's idea of what you should be. Surely, the brightest brains know that there is no need for such ulterior authentication. It's interesting that some of the wealthiest and most successful people have no such stamp of approval by the authorities. Richard Branson, Alan Sugar (I think) Shakespeare, Emily Bronte, Jesus etc. etc. were not university qualified, but professors argue for hours about their merit, while the great minds and great spirits go on making an impact on peoples of all time when the university officials are long forgotten.

If you want to go to university to study, by all means do so! If you want to study a subject among people who have taken if further than you have, then study it in colleges and universities. But if you want some letters after your name or a piece of paper and some outside stamp of authenticity for your self-esteem, it won't work. That can only come from yourself and you would do far better following your own heart, studying what you love and who cares whether someone else decides your efforts are worthy?

If you want letters after your name, write your own. How about:

F.S. - Free Spirit (it's more fitting than my B.A. - Bachelor of Arts, since I am not a bachelor and never could be!!)

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