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Sorry Kid, You Don't Have The Right To A College Education


Everything costs money. You better get used to it, because, out here in the real world, that gruesome reality will smack you in the face like a ton of bricks and then make you pay for the bricks.


People often accuse me of being anti-education simply because I hate the public school system and believe that college is often an utter waste of time. I expressed a few of those opinions on Twitter yesterday, and in keeping with tradition, somebody was offended:

Dear Matt, man to man I think you should stop writing. You aren't very good at it and all you do is bring negativity to the world. Of all the right wing bloggers on the internet you're easily the most bigoted and the biggest assh*le but the least talented or intelligent. You're writing is sophomoric and bigoted. I saw some of your anti-college Tweets today and I know that you've always been very anti-education (your lack of education shows in your writing.) You laugh at kids who believe college is a need and a human right but that's because you have a simplistic uneducated view. These are two facts: *You need college to be successful. *College is unaffordable for most people. Something has to change... Its not fair that I have to go into debt to go to college but I have to go to college to earn a living. This is my freshman year and I'm hoping that by the time I graduate the government will have addressed this problem... Sure we could all be bloggers but some of us want to have a real job and make real money with real careers not "blogging." I don't know what career I want but I know I have to go to college first if I want any. Yes I believe college should be free because it is a right. People have a right to an education without right wing f**ks like you standing in the way.

Have a nice afternoon,

a student

Dear Student,

I'll skip the cheap and easy part where I fix your grammar and syntax issues. In fairness, you just started college. I can't expect you to have this stuff mastered yet. I just hope that at some point they'll stick a few English lessons in between the lectures on white privilege and the evils of Western imperialism.

That aside, I do want to offer some important corrections to the substance of your message, even if mine are merely the opinions of a lowly blogger. Speaking of which, I actually identify as a "Professional Writer of Single Entry Cyber Compositions." For short, you can say I'm a PWSECC engineer. Haven't your professors taught you that you should never use any labels to describe anyone without first checking to see which label they prefer? I know this stuff and I didn't even go to college. Come on, get with the program, man.


Now, I'd like counter your "facts" with a few of my own. Let's go through them one-by-one:

College Can Never Be Free

Things cost money, Student. Everything costs money. You better get used to it, because, out here in the real world, that gruesome reality will smack you in the face like a ton of bricks and then make you pay for the bricks.

I pay for everything. Every second of the day I'm paying for things. Even when I'm not in the process of buying something, I'm still paying. I'm racking up fees for the heat and electricity and cable and water. I'm paying for car insurance. I'm paying a mortgage. I'm paying, paying, paying, paying, paying.

Everything costs money. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it's true.

Even Bernie Sanders knows that things cost money. Heck, it costs $250  just to go to one of his swanky Hollywood fundraisers. By the way, do you know why he's raising funds? Because he needs them to pay for his campaign, which, you guessed it, costs money.


College is certainly not exempt from this universal law of nature. It will never be free because the very concept of "free college" is an impossible fantasy, just as the very concept of free anything is an impossible fantasy. You see, "college" consist of buildings which cost money to build and maintain, and books which cost money to make and distribute, and cafeterias, and dormitories, and parking lots, and indoor waterfalls, and jumbotrons and spas and tanning rooms and volleyball courts, and hundreds of other things.

Then there are the people: Professors to indoctrinate the students, administrators to resign when the students throw hissy fits, janitors to clean up the vomit in the shower, etc. Unless you expect all of these people to work for free, and all of these items and buildings and resources to rain down like manna from the heavens, then you must understand that someone has to pay for all of it.

There are really two potential candidates for that role: 1) The people using it, like you. 2) Everyone else, like me.

My radical theory is that the person who buys something should be the one to pay for it. Like I said, Student, I'm paying for a lot of stuff already, and I'm taking care of two kids and a wife, all on my blogging income that I'm sure you'll exceed within seconds of graduation because you're just that awesome. But in the mean time, if you'll pardon me for saying it, I really think you ought to man up, pony up, and pay your own damned bills.

Yes, you could certainly make the case that college is more expensive than it ought to be. Those skyrocketing prices are partly because so many of you pampered students want to be showered with luxurious perks and amenities as if college is some kind of academic theme park, and partly because the government that you think will "address the problem" has actually been largely responsibly for creating it.

Be that as it may, the hyper-inflated price tag on your college degree is your burden to carry. If you need help, why don't you go to a parent or family member and ask? Hint: when you do, try to sound a little more humble and grateful. For goodness sake, you're asking the American taxpayer to hand you an $80,000 gift but you don't even have the decency to say please and thank you?

I feel like Don Corleone in the opening scene of "The Godfather."

You don't ask in respect or friendship. And you don't think to call me Godfather. Instead you come to my house on the day my daughter is to be married and you ask me to do murder, for money.

Well, that last part doesn't apply, but you get my point.

Try it this way: "American taxpayer, will you please pay for this thing I just bought? Thank you, Godfather."

The answer would still be no, but I'd appreciate your manners.

You Don't Have a Right to a College Education

Are we talking just undergrad? If you have a "right" to four years of additional formal education after 12 years of grade school education, why not six years? Why not eight? Why not 20 total years plus 18 months in the NASA candidate program? Why not a PhD and 10 years apprenticing under an acclaimed botanist in South America? Why sell yourself so short?

If you have a "right" to something just because you really, really want it and it would be super convenient if you had it, then of course there is no limit. Just close your eyes, dream, and whatever pops into your head is now a "right." Poof!

But that's not how it works. A human right is something which is inherent to you by your very nature. A human right is something you can, in some sense, claim ownership of or dominion over. A human right is something that is essential to your dignity as a man.

You have a right to be secure in your home, as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment, because your home is your dominion.

You have a right to express your beliefs and observe your faith (First Amendment) because that is inherent to your humanity.

You have a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment (Eighth) because such injustices would violate your human dignity.

However, spending 48 months partying and occasionally studying at Boozy University is not a privilege inherent to your humanity, nor is it something you own, nor can you rationally claim that your dignity has been defiled if you're forced to get a job at Home Depot and live in a studio apartment for a few years right out of high school, like the rest of us had to do. It might not be glamorous, but it's far more dignified than half of what happens on college campuses these days.

You Don't Need a College Education

You won't die without college. A lack of a college degree has never been listed under "cause of death" on an autopsy report. Literally billions of people have led happy and fulfilled lives without ever stepping foot inside an institution of higher learning. Billions. Seriously.

And I'm not just talking about our ancient ancestors. As you know, I didn't go. But fine, don't look at me, look at the thousands of entrepreneurs, soldiers, artists, mechanics, electricians, and so many others who flourish splendidly without degrees.

In fact, 60 percent of adults in this country did not graduate from a university. If a college degree is such an integral and essential and indispensable thing, how does this country still exist? The vast majority of people who live in it, or who've ever lived in it, do not or did not have one.

Photo: Shutterstock Photo: Shutterstock 

If I can fill thousands of football stadiums with people who are living quite well without something, I have proven that the thing is not a human need. Yes, it might be a requirement for certain careers, but careers aren't people. There are many prerequisites for being a fighter pilot, but if you lack some of those prerequisites it doesn't mean you're deprived of something you need. It means you're deprived of something you need to be a fighter pilot. This distinction is important, Student.

Besides, there are careers where college is actually needed (surgeons, lawyers, a few others ), and careers where college is artificially needed. A great preponderance of jobs only "require" a college degree because their Human Resource departments are lazy and unimaginative. This is a real obstacle for the degree-less, no doubt, but it's an obstacle created by dumb hiring managers who think it's more important for a data entry clerk to spend four years learning about feminism and gender theory than gaining actual work experience.

The only solution to the artificial need for a college degree is also the only solution for the artificially high cost of that degree: fewer college students. Right now, colleges can charge what they want and employers can invent all of the absurd academic requirements they want because most of us just play along. We'll pay whatever they ask and accrue whatever degrees and diplomas they require, so why should any of it change?

It won't until we force the issue. That happens when we stop following the prescribed and assumed path and start forging our own. It only requires a little critical thought, a little courage, a little creativity, and a little ambition, and if you have all of those qualities, you're guaranteed to find success in the world.

College Debt is Very Fair

I agree that college is absurdly expensive, but that doesn't make your debt unfair. Do you know why you owe all that money? Because you borrowed it. The end. Next question.

Your Attitude is Terrible and It Will Ruin Your Life

Sometimes I wish I could grab my whole generation by the collar, collectively slap it upside the head and scream "YOU AREN'T HELPLESS AND YOU AREN'T ENTITLED. STOP IT. JUST STOP IT."

But seeing as how I can't get them all to sit still and cooperate, I'll just have to scream at you.

Here's the deal: you're a very young guy. Assuming you don't have any serious mental or physical handicaps, and assuming you aren't already married with kids, you are in a position where you can pretty much go anywhere and do anything. College is (or was) one option among millions.

It sounds like you enrolled in college simply because that's just what people do at your age, which is not only a weak rationale, but an inaccurate one. You have no plan outside of that, and you don't even have a plan for how you're going to pay for it all, other than hoping some frazzled 74-year-old Socialist from Vermont will somehow become president and make all your problems go away.

You're acting entitled and you're acting helpless, but you're neither of those things. So stop it. This is the problem, Student. Young men and women go into college with no purpose and no direction, and for no other reason than their feeling of entitlement and their need to conform to what everyone else is doing, and look where it's gotten us. Those are absolutely awful and disastrous reasons to go to college, or to do anything.

If I were a high school guidance counselor, I'd tell the kids who know exactly what they want out of life -- the ones who already know they want to be a doctor or an engineer or whatever -- that they should, by all means, proceed along to university if they can afford it. But everyone else? College is probably the worst place to start. College is a place for people who have a purpose. It is not a place for people to find a purpose.

You're better off joining the work force. Or a trade school. Or the military. Or a mission in Uganda. Or an oil refinery in Alaska, like the guys in that movie "The Grey" before they all got eaten by wolves. Really anything is financially, spiritually, and emotionally preferable to wandering into a four-year university with an attitude of entitlement and aimlessness.

I realize you're already in the midst of it, but my advice is still valuable. It sounds like college was not the best choice for you, right now, at this point in your maturation process, but you're there and you're in debt and that's just the reality. And that's OK, you can make do.

Bernie Sanders isn't going to be president, and nobody is going to pay your college for you, and no employer is going to just hand you a career because you graduated. Those are the facts, I'm afraid. But the good news is that, if you understand and absorb them now, if you start taking charge of your life and accepting your responsibilities, if you start thinking about what you can offer to the world and not what the world is supposed to give you, I believe you'll wind up a very happy and successful man. If not, you'll be a miserable failure.

That's your choice to make, brother.

I believe in you.

But I still won't pay your bills. Sorry.

Good luck.



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