Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

The kids are back in school

Today marks the first day of Fall semester for the K through 12 kids, so naturally the bus I take to go to work were full of the young ones, and for some, their parents also. What was for the past few months a sparsely ridden bus route returned to being a jam-packed slog, with each subsequent stop filled with hopefuls looking to squeeze in just beyond the closing doors. Today’s commute was easily 10 minutes longer than usual, though I didn’t mind it because I simply listen to podcasts until it’s my stop to alight.

The return of the pre-college kids on public transport is my specific signal that Summer is indeed over, and it’s back to the normal grind of the regular school schedule. Of course, I am sensitive to this because I work at a university, and we go back to our particular scheduled programming in a week’s time. As someone who prefers peace and quiet, I’m oddly looking forward to campus starting back up; the atmosphere of learning can be very contagious indeed.

The crowded bus today made me reminisce of the trip to Japan back in July, and how glorious public transport in that country is. Despite the enormous population density, the system there is super efficient, and has the adequate capacity to deal with the sheer number of people. Most importantly, everything is always on time, so schedules are completely dependable. I fondly remember taking the local train during rush hour, and despite the sea of humanity, there was a train every two minutes on the dot, so getting on wasn’t an issue at all.

Contrast that with my experience today, where my usual bus passed by our station with a ‘not in service’ sign, leaving the following bus even more packed that it had to be. The morning commute on the first day of school maybe isn’t the best time for that, SF Muni.

The dark side is the best side.

The dark side is the best side.

Fall semester 2018 begins

Fall semester starts up at work today, and for the first time in three months the campus will be teeming with people, largely wild-eyed freshmen not knowing which building is which. Summer is officially over as far as I'm concerned (suck it, Labor Day) and pretty soon it'll be pitch dark before 6pm. Once the calendar turns over to September, the rest of the year goes by super swiftly.

My own brother is also about to start his final year of undergrad. He is majoring in sociology, which on one hand more knowledge is always great, but on the other what the heck is he going to do for money armed with such a degree? What other paths are there for a sociologist other than remain in academia? Hindsight being what it is, I think my brother chose the wrong major; even he knows it's large useless. 

Children of rich households can afford to study a silly subject for a diploma, but sons and daughters of the poor and lower middle-class haven't got the luxury of a parental safety chute. The purpose of college for people like us is to enhance our ability to attain a well paying job. A big reason why I chose to major in business was because I figure business skills are paramount and applicable to all industries. I would've loved to major in philosophy and have heated discussions about the differences of Platonic and Socratic thought, but like sociology that won't pay any of the bills unless I continued on further and  become a researcher. 

I wonder how many incoming freshmen are cognizant of the monetary utility of the major they selected. Most probably don't care because it's infinitely more fun to think about all the alcohol-fueled sex college is fertile ground for. But student loan debt is at record highs; don't high school counselors have a duty to direct kids to the proper channels so that the debt incurred would be worth the future income?

Some of these kids would be a better served not by a standard four-year institution, but rather an accredited trade school. Despite being maligned and stigmatized by society as low-rung, blue-collar jobs can pay equally well as the office desk. The growth potential can be the same, too: the auto mechanic, can after years of service, open his own shop and reap all the profits. One does not need to wear a white-collar to make six-figures.

I think it'll benefit the university system and society as a whole if some forethought and advice is given to kids beforehand, that college is not the only option to a good career. Because one can always become a Youtuber or Instagram influencer. 

This is the sound of settling...

This is the sound of settling...