They won’t let you cut out a guy’s kidney unless you have a college degree. I asked. And it has to be a medical degree. Medieval Russian Literature won’t convince them to let you scrub and order a nurse to hand you any of those obscure, scary surgical instruments. So, if you want to do something like this, I recommend snagging a college degree or two. Even if cutting out kidneys holds no appeal for you, a degree looks really snappy on a resume. It gives you something to list below your first job at Hobby Lobby and above your personal interests in Angry Birds and pornographic origami.

Keep in mind that if you don’t want to do something specialized like medicine, the exact type of degree may not matter much. I personally went for one of those degrees that makes some people say, “What do you expect to do with a degree in THAT?” Now, I would like you to please do me a personal favor. The next time you hear someone say that to a kid, look around for the heaviest thing you can lift and hit that person on the knee with it as hard as you can, because he is a damned moron who deserves to limp for the rest of his life.

I’m not the brightest guy on my block, but my degree never kept me from getting a job. Think of an employer’s problem this way. Employers only hire when they’re in pain. If everything was fine and they weren’t in pain, they’d just keep the money and not hire anybody. Now, if you were in pain, say from your hand being crushed in a car door, would you care whether the guy running towards you was a certified mechanic?

If you’re considering college, I’d like to share a little of my perspective. During my years in college there were facts being tossed around by the bushel basket. But in the end I learned only three significant things.

First, I learned what makes soap work. I mean how soap works from the chemical standpoint. I won’t go into the details, but this is the coolest piece of knowledge ever, and learning it justified every dollar and every hour I put into college.

The second thing I learned was almost as great. One day I was walking through the Student Union. That’s the place on campus where guys go to pretend to study while they look at pretty girls out of the corner of their eye. A crowd blocked the hallway, and I saw that the dean of my university was giving a speech. I had never before heard him speak nor even seen him in his actual flesh. Then I heard the golden, magical portion of his speech. He explained that he, the administrators, the professors, and the staff were the university. The students would come and go—we were transitory, and when we moved on the people who ran the place would still be there. We, the students, did not count—and we’d damned well better not forget it.

That did make me cock my head in a Scooby-Doo moment. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to kiss the man right on the mouth. Oh, certainly he was a nasty sack of moose piss, but amidst his mean-spirited locust swarm of a diatribe soared a single white dove. That dove landed on my shoulder and said to me, “Grow the hell up.”

The third thing I learned was, oddly, about learning. Sometimes people call universities “institutions of higher learning.” People do not call universities “institutions of higher teaching,” and there’s a reason for that. University professors will point you in generally the correct direction, but they have better things to do than spend a bunch of time teaching you stuff. It’s your responsibility to teach your own damn self. During my college career, the occasional dedicated teacher manifested, but as a rule my professors treated students the way alligators treat their young: “There’s the bayou, kid. Either teach yourself to hunt or get eaten by a muskrat, I don’t give a shit which.”

To summarize, my advanced university education consisted of the lovely mystery of soap, the revelation “Grow the hell up,” and the directive “Teach yourself if you don’t want to remain as ignorant as a sack of rusty screws.” Everything else was secondary, although I admit that lots of it was interesting.

I consider it all to be time and money wisely invested.

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