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Was going to college worth it? Was it the best approach for Therapeutic Recreation / Recreational Therapy (TR / RT), Music Therapy (MT), Research Psychology, & Neuroscience?

by Hawke published Mar 21, 2018 10:05 AM, last modified Mar 21, 2018 10:19 AM
For me, it turns out it was probably a huge waste of time and money. For others? Well, that is going to depend on the person...

As I am nearing (finally) graduating, I have to ask myself, was it worth it?

I'm going to have to say that overall, being the person that I am, I probably would ahve learned and accomplished far more out in the TR industry and self-studying, than I did through university. I choose one of the best TR programs in the country, and years later they won awards re-affirming that.

There were a few key programs and a few key professors that were remarkable and definitely helpful, but I likely would have gotten far more experience, and run into far more exceptional people in the actual field. The politics of academia being what they are, the majority of professors I see in unversities across the country, are very disappointing.

I am fortunate that I come out of this degree without owing anything, that at least is good. In hindsight, if I had the choice to do it over, or start as a volunteer and work my way into the TR, MT, research psychology, and neuroscience fields, knowing what I do now, I would have to say that 90% of university was a waste of time and money. I made the best of it that I could, but this was in spite of the system, not because of it.  My grades are acceptable though not stellar (3.7+ GPA), most of my classes were 4.0, but injuries and illness lead to some rough quarters. As well as 3 particularly terrible, awful, notoriously bad professors, that the school system won't/can't remove.

Now, this is coming from someone who is VERY GOOD AT SELF DIRECTED LEARNING, and has a strong entrepreneureal approach to life and career.

Is university worth it for others? Maybe. At least EWU is more affordable than most, though the TR program has been taking some hits in recent years (even though the head of the program, Professor Messina has done all she can to improve it), university politics have been chiseling away at what made it excel so much unfortunately. But I can still definitely recommend, that if you are someone that needs a school-based approach to learning a career, then the TR program at EWU is probably one of your best options. You will come out with far more hands on experience than most programs, really ready to work in the field, though it will be very light on the research side alas.

I will just be glad to have this huge time (and money) suck of school behind me. I no longer have any interest in pursuing a Masters or Ph.D. Despite many of the professors repeatedly stating, "you keep doing Ph.D. level work, you don't need to work so hard, it's just a bachelor's", and several other professors in charge of TR programs around the country pleading with me to go get my doctorate, because of the extreme dearth of Ph.D. level TR professors in the country (and so many nearing retirement which unfortunately puts so many of the TR programs in jeopardy). Heck I've been asked to write chapters for various books, including a TR textbook for another university. But I just don't have the tolerance for 99% politics, 1% work, that appears to be the majority of academia and universities these days. I _love_ teaching, and love learning, but I abhor the way the academic community, and especially the school systems, function. The politics I have seen are so not worth it. I would rather actually get things done, helping improve the quality of life for people and increase the body of knowledge, including many controlled research studies (I have over 200 research questions in my queue). I will just hire people with a CTRS, and other "credentials", as the own of the companies currently in place, I don't need those credentials myself to accomplish the many goals I have in mind. I just need a successful business model that can support these ideas.

Now, whether or not I have that figured out, well, let's check back in 5-10 years and see how it looks then, shall we?

So, summarizing, for me at least, college really was a huge waste of time and money. By pushing hard outside of the normal university constraints, I managed to make the best of it, but that was in spite of the system, not because of it. I am now certain I would be much (MUCH) further along in my goals if I had just gone for it on my own, learned in the field as a volunteer and worked my way up, and through self-study, rather than slowed down, dragged down, and delayed by the university system. But I also know that I am not the norm, and that probably for many others, that are not as self-driven, and strong self-learners, the school approach is probably your best bet, and EWU's TR program is one of the better options in the country. I will just be glad to have this distantly in my rearview mirror, and finally be able to go full speed with actually getting things done, advancing science, and helping improve people's quality of life, taking the independent scholar, entrepreneureal, independent research company, "evil capitalist" approach, rather than horribly political and ineffective realm of academia in universities. You mileage may vary.

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