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Suicide Jack Chapter 1

Chapter one of a completed novel that my agent wasn’t so enthusiastic about. I think it has some appeal though, what about you?

1

There’s classical music playing. This is Richard Landry’s first thought as his senses come back to him. Everything is dark, but his ears key in on the sound, which at first seems far away but then drifts closer.

Piano, he thinks. Someone is playing piano, and they’re damn good. He sees it in his mind, a pair of hands dancing over the keys, producing the notes in perfect rhythm. Richard almost feels himself swaying to the tune.

Then his cognition reboots.

Where am I?

He was going home, wasn’t he? He had put his keys in the door and opened it, stepped inside then…

Blackness.

And now, classical music.

His head aches, and he feels the pain pulsating from the crown of his skull. He tries to move and finds he can’t; his arms, legs, and body strapped down. He’s tied to a chair, or something similar.

What the hell? he thinks. He’d been too incoherent to understand the gravity of the situation before, but now the possibilities race to him.

Richard opens his eyes.

The beauty of the room before him is the first thing to catch his attention, a regal sort of elegance infused into the foyer. The floors are shiny, perhaps marble, and are a decorative royal pattern. There are two large antique mirrors on either side of the far wall, followed by a series of paintings, classical portraits and baroque market scenes. A crimson red Berber carpet directs his eyes to the staircase to his right, where it ascends the stairs and guides visitors to the second floor.

The music stops playing.

Richard looks towards the grand piano, where a figure is seated, wearing a sleek charcoal gray suit. The man stands up and speaks in a voice that is silky smooth, but void of emotion.

“Your hands are dirty, Richard.”

Richard looks down. He’s strapped to a heavy chair by a series of belts. He gazes at his hands.

They aren’t there.

Richard stares down in disbelief. Each of his arms now ends in a stump, stitched closed where his hands are supposed to be.

“Oh my god!” Richard screams.

“That was Rachmaninoff’s Number 2 in C Minor, in case you were wondering,” the man says. “Pardon me taking liberties with my interpretation, I must admit I rarely play pieces exactly as they are written.”

“Holy shit!” Richard screams. “Where are my hands? You took my hands!” He thrashes in his restraints.

“Relax, Richard,” the man assures, his voice even.  He reaches inside either side of his coat and pulls out two objects as he approaches. The man tosses the two items into Richard’s lap, and after a short bounce they settle into place.

Richard lets out a cry and bucks his hips upward, launching the hands from his body. They tumble to the floor with a thud. “Help! Someone help me!” he sobs, throwing his body as hard as he can in each direction.

“No, no, no,” the man says as he places a butterfly knife to Richard’s throat. “If you cannot behave yourself, we’ll have to make this encounter short.”

Richard stifles his cry, his body going rigid. The man looms over him and for the first time Richard looks at his face.

His eyes, Richard thinks. They are blue, icy blue, but so faded in color it is as if they don’t exist at all. They are pale, faraway, detached, yet in the moment, so intently focused on him.

“Wh-what do you want?” Richard croaks. “Please, let me go. I won’t tell anyone about this.”

The man laughs. It has the vocal quality of a laugh but lacks the human element. “Detective Landry, this was about you and your dirty hands,” the man explains. “Taking bribes to misplace evidence? Selling drugs that had been confiscated to make your own side profit? Rather audacious of someone who is supposed to protect and serve the public.”

“I’ll stop!” Richard gasps. “That’s all it is? I’ll stop. I’ll give you the profits. I’ll give you any amount of money you want!”

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” the man says, shaking his head. The blade digs into Richard’s flesh just slightly. “This isn’t about money, Detective Landry, this is about principle! What gave you the right to act in such a manner, to be above the laws you enforce on others? Do you think your job gives you that sort of power?”

“What?” Richard asks. “No, I just…I just needed more money.”

“Needed?” the man asks, grinding the blade into Richard’s skin. A trickle of blood zig-zags its way down his neck.

“Wanted!” Richard gasps. “I wanted it. And now you can take it from me. All of it!”  

The man is shaking his head again. “You acted as if there would be no repercussions. As if you had an inherent right to do as you did. I’m not here to make you change your ways, detective, and I’m not here for a cut of your money.”

“Wh-what are you here for?” Richard asks.

The man smiles and it’s the most horrifying thing Richard has ever seen. “Call me an agent of truth,” the man explains. “I’m here to show you that there’s really only one type of power in the world.”

“What do you…” Richard began before letting out a wet choke.

The man drags the blade across Richard’s throat, slitting it. Richard’s head falls forward and the world begins turning dark again. He spits up blood and shakes violently, and just before the world fades away, he processes one last thing.

The man has started playing the piano again.

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Murderers Anonymous Chapter 4

Chapter 4 of my novel, previously submitted to Big 5 publishers by my agent. Refer to previous posts for earlier chapters. Strong graphic content advisory.

                                                                    4

“Hey, hey, you there?” Dave asks, waving his hand in front of my face.

“Still waking up,” I respond, snapping back to reality.

It is believed that 70% of all Americans have had at least one homicidal fantasy. Homicidal Ideation, or habitual contemplation of homicide, is estimated to be incredibly prevalent amongst the general population, with only a small percent of those who experience it actually committing the acts.  

You’re not alone.  

“You better wake up, because we have a long productive day ahead of us. Charlene said she’s giving a special bonus to whoever sets the most appointments.” Dave rubs his hands together.  

Charlene is the office manager. She’s in her late forties, and her too skinny frame combined with her long, wild blonde hair gives her the appearance of a human mop.

Dave wants to fuck her.

There’s no way around it; Dave Ulster wants to get four inches deep into that woman. Maybe it’s so he can continue to win her favor in the office, securing more perks, bonuses, and accolades, but part of me always felt that Desperate Dave would fuck a garbage bag of mashed potatoes if someone poked a hole in it.

Charlene is a chain smoker with three delinquent teenage boys, fathered by two different men. She has reminded the entire office on numerous occasions that her third child, Andy, was so big that when he came out he “tore her from slit to asshole.”

Sexy, Adjective 

 

  • Sexually attractive or exciting.

 

Antonyms: Distasteful, Unattractive, Disgusting, Unsexy

 

Dave goes on talking about something, and as usual I cruise right by him, walking into the break room. My goal is the refrigerator; I need a Diet Coke, but standing between me and my elixir is someone I don’t wish to see.

I knew a kid in middle school; let’s call him Gary, who was terrified of attractive women. I don’t mean he got red in the face and started shaking, no, that would be a breeze for him.

He pissed himself around girls.

If a girl Gary found even remotely attractive walked by he’d start biting his lip, twitching, and then the release came. He knew the cause was lost and he was horrified at what was happening, but then there was a change. His face would soften as the urine flowed down his leg. It was over. Despite the fact he dreaded it, now it was done. He could move on with his life.

I remember Gary because of my own issues with pissing the bed. I remember the attention that came his way whenever the dark stain on his crotch became too big to notice.

I remember envying him.  

Through extensive counseling Gary began to master his bladder. By high school the accidents were few and far between, and it looked like Gary was finally taking control of his life.

Then he got hit by a bus.  

It was ironic; as soon as he learned how to control his urination he lost the need to. The last I heard Gary was paralyzed from the waist down with a nice little catheter and piss bag combo to manually handle all of his pissing needs.  

I think of Gary and the odor of his piss-laden jeans as I stare at Christa.

There are vast differences between fucking, having sex, and making love. I’ll leave it up to you and your life experiences to determine which you prefer most.

Me, well I like to fuck.

Christa stares at me with a pathetic desperation, like a disregarded puppy eager for attention.

Or looking to get fucked raw.

Christa is boring, fat, and unattractive. I had never paid any mind to her and for whatever reason this made her infatuated with me. Maybe I was the mysterious guy around the office, the edgy rebel who did his own thing.

Or maybe she’s fucked in the head.

In any case, she asked me out for a cup of coffee once in the break room. She looked to me hopefully, as if I’d sweep her off her feet with a debonair response and a romantic kiss on the lips.

I told her if she plopped her fat ass up on the table I’d finger-fuck her right then and there.

Thus I found myself knuckle deep in a moaning cow. I slammed my three fingers into her, practically punching her cunt as I rammed her over and over again. I wanted to hurt her but the harder I tried the more she cried out in pleasure. Her loins gushed as I fucked her, the ooze trailing down my forearm and coagulating on the table below, leaving a thick glob of fluid behind which Barry, the unfortunate new guy, later ended up mistaking for creamy Alfredo sauce.

I said nothing after I pulled my hand out of her, wiping the gunk on my pants. We both regained our composure and got back to work, no one any the wiser to what had happened. Since then we had a few trysts in the bathroom, where I literally would try to make her vomit by thrusting my dick into the back of her throat as hard as I could. Whenever I finished I tried to spray her in the eyes.

She took every bit of abuse, and kept coming back for more. Freud would say she had daddy issues.

Or maybe not. I don’t fucking know. Google him.

We still had never had a conversation and I intended to keep it that way. I don’t acknowledge her existence and step around her to get to the refrigerator.

I open the door and retrieve my Coke. As soon as I close the door she presses against me from behind, wrapping both arms around me as she reaches down to grab at my crotch.

“Do you want to fuck me?” she asks huskily. “You can put it in my ass. It belongs to you.” She stresses the last words, as if ownership of her rancid black cherry was in the least bit appealing.

I push her away with a nudge of my elbow. I say nothing, avoiding eye contact as I stroll past her into the main room. Any woman who finds me attractive is the furthest thing from a keeper and needs serious psychological evaluation.

Don’t we all?

“Bet ya I’ll get at least five more than you today!” Dave says as he rushes to his station. I sigh and reach around to my back pocket, feeling for my Beretta.

Disappointment washes over me as I remember I never had one.

 

5

I’m going to fuck your grandmother. I’m going to fuck her until she breaks in half.”

“My grandmother is dead, sir.”

“I’ll dig her up, shit in her skull, and fuck the eyehole then. You call me again faggot and you’ll see.”

Click, he hangs up.

Ring, ring, the other call begins to go through.

“Hello?” an unfamiliar voice says.

“Jonathan Marcus, please,” I say.

“Just a moment please,” the female voice says.

“Jonathan speaking.”

“Hello Mr. Marcus,” I begin. “I’m with Royal Payments. I’m calling in regard to the merchant account.”

“Merchant account?”

“Yes, the merchant account. You accept credit and debit cards as a form of payment at your business, correct?”

“Yeah, are you with my bank?”

“No sir,” I say quickly. “I’m calling to inform you that as of April there are new federal policies in place qualifying your business for industry low processing fees. The unfortunate thing is your current processor is not required by law to inform you of what you qualify for.”

“I’m not interested,” Jonathan says.

“Of course you’re not, I haven’t told you anything to be interested in!” I say this approximately two hundred times a day. “We have representatives in your area ready to drop in and show you the benefits of switching to Royal Payments and break down just how much money you will save. And if you still aren’t interested, we’ll give you a five hundred dollar Visa gift card just for your time. Fair enough?”

“I said I’m not interested. Have a good day.”

“Sir, if you would just…”

“Take a fucking hint you cocksucker. Never call again.” He slams the phone down.

Ring, ring, the next call begins to go through.

Rinse and repeat.

An “appointment setter” at Royal Payments will handle anywhere from seven to nine hundred calls in their eight hour day. This depends on a multitude of factors, including but not limited to, how many people hang up the phone without saying a word, how quickly the automated system deals out numbers, and the success rate of the appointment setter. A strong day would see five of eight hundred calls ending in success, where a normal day can range from zero to three.

Appointment setters are paid a rate of eleven dollars per hour with various commission-based incentives thrown on top of their salary. While these commissions are generous, for the most part they are unobtainable due to the fact that people do not wish to speak to telemarketers.

If an appointment setter is successful, they ring a bell at their station, raise their hand, and wait for a “closer” to come and finalize the appointment. Then they revel in the joy of victory, putting a mark up on the board, before getting back to the grind. Every day begins with a cheer and chant to revitalize spirits, and every day ends with competitive jiving and promises to perform better the next day.

They call one man Paulie Payments because of his uncanny ability to set appointments. With commissions he nearly makes forty thousand dollars a year, making him a hero in the office.  He uses his vast array of wealth to seduce recent high school dropouts; he’s gotten two pregnant. He’s marrying the latest one. He’s forty-three, she’s nineteen.

God Bless America.

I do not buy into the revelry. I speak like an automated machine. I recite the same lines time and time again. I navigate through the most wretched filth of human emotions, taking on the brunt of people’s strife and hatred for hours on end.

Rinse and repeat.

I do not think. I work.

Is there a difference?

We purchase the numbers from companies that compile lists. Sometimes the data is bad. On one occasion I called asking for a Mr. Frank Orden, only to hear from his distressed widow that he had passed seven years earlier. She began sobbing on the phone, attempting to give me his life story.  Another time I called the number for a doctor’s office; I was connected to a sex shop.

Both times I read the script as usual.

During our lunch break, I hear a group of the guys talking politics, expressing their dismay with the president and asserting they know the direction the nation needs to take. They do this despite the fact that two barely graduated high school and the third was a community college dropout.

The Dunning- Kruger effect is a common phenomenon in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, causing them to mistakenly rate their ability/intelligence much higher than is accurate. This is attributed to the inability of these people to recognize their ineptitude. As a result of this, actual competence, as exhibited by professionals with a wealth of knowledge or experience, is often perceived as threatening and is met with hostility.

I walk into the break room to grab another diet Coke when I see her. She turns around from the refrigerator and my heart nearly stops.

It’s the new girl.

It’s Kelly.

I can’t breathe. I want to run but my legs become a mix of cement and Jello; too heavy to move yet too weak to support me. My hands start shaking and my vision blurs.

She raises her eyebrow, giving me a curious look as she observes the sweat pouring down my face. My breathing is heavy and my motions spastic, but I am able to force my legs to move, stumbling as I turn and hurry out of the room.

I let loose a choking cough as I head towards the bathroom. I push my way past Michael and into the nearest stall, falling to my knees and spraying the contents of my stomach into the porcelain below. There’s barely any food in there but more vomit comes, a hot mix of digested meat and bile coating the seat of the toilet.  

She wasn’t Kelly, but she was damn close enough. The silky chestnut colored hair, the deep, shimmering brown eyes, the soft skin and supple lips.

She could be her sister.

I have to strangle her.  

I ignore the vomit, placing my hands on the toilet seat and pushing up to rise, my legs threatening to buckle the entire time. I finally get to my feet and wipe the drool from my lips, letting it seep into the sleeve of my shirt.

I walk out of the bathroom and head directly to the exit. Charlene stands between it and me. Her mascara is running, and the wrinkles of her face are more prominent than usual as she scowls my way.

“Where are you going?” she demands.  

“I’m ill. I’m going home,” I say in a faraway voice.

“What’s the matter?” She changes her tone to appear concerned.

“Stomach…threw up…” I mumble some more words. Normally Charlene was a hard-ass in regards to letting people leave early, but my appearance seems to convince her and she steps out of the way.

“Shit, you’re a mess. Get home and rest up then.”

I say thanks and keep going, making sure not to look back.

If I saw that girl again I just might lose it.

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Terminal Chapter 1

Work in progress currently being reviewed by my agent. Refer to the prologue posted previously. Dark work of fiction with strong adult content. Let me know what you think!

                                                                                   1

Have you ever smelled death?

I’m not being dramatic when I ask this. And no, it doesn’t reek like rotting flesh or festering excrement. There’s a sterile quality to the smell. A stale, sort of expired scent permeating throughout the air.

Don’t believe me? There are dozens of documented stories of dogs, cats, and even pigs become worked up in the days leading up to their owner’s sudden passing. There are the tales of hospice cats snuggling up to patients in their final hours, comforting them as they drift off to the big sleep. Some people think the animals have a sixth sense, but I think it’s simply the smell.

Working in a hospital makes you privy to it.

I think about this as I stare down at 406, his body gaunt and emaciated below a tangle of thick sheets. His chest rises and falls in shallow breaths as he awaits yet another day of bedridden treatment.

A day that shall never come.

The first time 406 met me, he squinted, eyes beady and distrusting as he said, “what are you, some type of spic?”

I informed him my dark features came from my mother, who is predominately Italian in heritage.

“So you’re a dago,” he barked. “A fucking w.o.p.”

At least he had his acronyms down.

406’s food was never warm or good enough, the bed was never in proper position, and his pillows were never quite fluffed to his liking.

“What took you so long?” he once demanded after repeatedly pressing the call bell. “Lazy bastards like you are what’s wrong with this country. We should send all of you Mexicans back to where you came from.”

“My heritage is Italian, well, only a part of it,” I corrected him.

“Shut up, greasebag,” 406 rasped. “And get me more pillows. These are as hard as rocks.”

406, like so many, wanted something to complain about. Some proclamation to be heard and respected. Some demand to make and someone to assert himself over.

A fleeting moment of control in a life spiraling out of it.

406 isn’t an isolated case. He’s a frequent flyer. These are the types who visit the hospital so much they should have their own reserved rooms. Honestly, some of the people are unfortunate, cursed with bad luck and genetic predisposition. A vast majority of the regulars, however, end up coming back as a consequence of their own choice.

Refusing diet and exercise despite a heart condition. Refusing to take medication appropriately even as symptoms worsen. Refusing to abandon carbs and sugars even as diabetes continues to wreak havoc on their body.

You know, unavoidable stuff.

406 has a given name, but in a hospital a person becomes a number, a set of duties and responsibilities. A temporary occupant in a bed until they’re shipped out.

Shipped out can mean one of two things.

406 lets out a ragged cough in his sleep, a wheeze so deep I hear it settling into his lungs. He’s deteriorating, and the affliction isn’t only physical. Sure, his feet have been amputated due to the complications from his diabetes, and yes, his hands are next, but there’s also something much worse wearing away at him.

A cancer of the soul if you were being poetic.

A shitty life if you weren’t.   

406’s family had been helping themselves to his social security checks while he wasted away in the hospital. They rarely bother visiting him, and when they do, it’s always about money.

See? It makes sense.

Pricks like him aren’t formed in a void.

Miserable outside and in, he wallows in bitterness, liver and kidney failing. At this point he’s near the end of his journey. His doctor says he may not make it out of the hospital again.

He’s right.

I take a deep breath. I’m holding a pillow and standing over him. The privacy curtain is closed around his bed. At 2:03 a.m. there is no one to bother us; the only other aide is on the other side of the floor and his nurse has no business with him at this hour.

I smile and wonder if the pillow is fluffed enough for him as I lean over and cover his face with it.

Trust me, he needs this.

This isn’t about revenge.

Well, not entirely.

406 is peacefully asleep for the first few seconds, then he springs to life. He thrashes in a desperate struggle to avoid the inevitable.

Call this expedition.

Call it deliverance.

“Shhh, I’m helping you,” I whisper.

406 doesn’t see it this way. He scratches at me, nails grinding down my shirt sleeve. I press my knee to his midsection to take the air out of him and keep him in place.

“This can be so beautiful if you’d let it be.”

Research indicates that many who experience severe medical trauma go through a “near death experience” which entails feelings of euphoria and peace, usually accompanied by a vision, either the classic brightly lit corridor or a pleasant memory. A sort of natural high occurs in the brain when this happens, and we’re transported to a state where there is only calm acceptance.

Your body’s coping mechanism.

About twenty percent of cardiac arrest survivors report this or a pleasing out of body experience. It can be such a magnificent thing, waltzing towards death, your body letting go of all ills.

406 doesn’t seem to get it.

“Mmmmrrrfffph!” he cries.

His screams are muffled by the pillow. His struggles are mighty at first but already start to fade. I press down on him with more force.

As 406’s chest heaves up and down his cells are going through a process called respiratory acidosis. This is when his cells are unable to remove their carbon dioxide and thus poison themselves with their own waste. With the delicate cellular pH levels thrown off, system after system begins to fail as cells melt away and die.

Crazy, isn’t it?

We self destruct on even the most basic levels.

One of 406’s legs nearly connects with me but the blankets hold him down, trapping him in a death cocoon. As he fights, I think about the state of his soul. I wonder if 406 thinks he’s going to Heaven or Hell, assuming he is a believer.

Purgatory is a state in between salvation and damnation, where those with hearts dedicated to God, but who may have sinned, receive spiritual purification before ascending to Heaven.

Think of it as detox for the soul.

Twelve step spiritual counseling.

A complete luxury spa treatment wiping away the grime and filth of your life.

As long as the person’s heart is dedicated to Jesus Christ, there’s a chance they’ll transition into Heaven. It’s not guaranteed, however, and there are many factors to consider. There are venial sins, mortal sins, sins against the Holy Spirit, ways of being accessory to sin…

Purgatory must look and feel like the DMV on a busy day.

406 thrusts up, his final major attempt at escape, but I have him corralled. The effort robs him of what little air he has left, and I hear him sucking on the fabric of the pillow.

Just imagine all of those cells dying.

You don’t actually have to.

There are a few weak coughs, his final proclamations to the world, but 406 goes still. I wait a minute before checking his pulse, putting two fingers to the damp skin of his wrist. The deed is done. I remove the pillow from his face, avoiding staring into his now glassy, doll-like eyes, and slide it below his head, fluffing and adjusting it for him one final time.

He finally looks relaxed.

I pull back the privacy curtain and exit the room. I’ll soon have to deal with the aftermath of a patient “coding” but I’ll take that when it comes. A patient of his age, in his condition, it won’t stir much of a fuss. Cause of death? Complications; we don’t have time to do an autopsy on a guy who was knocking on death’s door. Ship him out and drop another body in the bed.

This is just how things are.

I walk into the hallway, narrowing as my eyes adjust to the light, and think about why I did what I did, and why any of us do what we do. I come to a quick conclusion.

Everything we do is a symptom of the same illness. Our shared diagnosis: Life. The truth we all try to hide from is the outcome. Our shared prognosis: Terminal.

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The Process

A hefty part of my year has been devoted to writing and editing my novel, Sinners’ Saint, in my opinion the greatest thing I’ve ever written (or even accomplished). I’m happy to say that an agent has requested I revise and resubmit it to her, because she loves the story but doesn’t like its wordiness and pace. Time for the 4th full edit! It’s always an adventure going back and tearing up a manuscript. Part of me doesn’t want to touch it (it’s like my child) but I realize that I’m making it better.

It shouldn’t be out there until it reaches its full potential…and we are certainly on our way there. 3,000 words have been nixed from the first 50 pages and I’m sure there will be plenty more to go. This 126,000 word behemoth will have to come down to about 110,000 if it’s going to have any sort of good pacing.

Want to help me out? I love beta reader opinions. Let me know if your’e interested. I will love you long time if you help me. Seriously…you’d be so awesome.

In other news…my debut novel Harbinger is slated to be out within the next few months. Get excited people!

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Is a College Education Worth It?

     Just posting an op-ed article I recently had published in a local newspaper. Let me know your reactions. Some interesting food for thought…

  It’s the standard now-a-days isn’t it? From their earliest days in school children are encouraged to work and study hard so they have an opportunity to go to college, get a degree, and land their dream job. This was certainly the scenario pitched to me throughout my schooling years. My eager young mind ate it up and soon my imagination was filled with fanciful images of what the future would hold for me. I was excited about college and the world of opportunities it presented.

    I was naïve and misguided.

    Don’t get me wrong – college is a wonderful thing. Those four years were some of the most interesting, fruitful, and enjoyable of my life. But a question must be raised, with the current structure of higher education and the daunting price tag that comes with it, is getting a four year degree really worth it?

    It’s not uncommon to find universities that are charging over thirty five thousand dollars a year in tuition. Even the cheapest schools come with a hefty cost that nearly all students cannot afford without parental and/or governmental assistance. Oh, and that government help? Most students receive it in the form of student loans, and as of July 1st the interest rates on Stafford Loans are set to double to 6.8%.

    So here’s the scenario. You graduate high school, you invest thousands into college (both tuition and room and board) you work your butt off, you get a degree, and then what? Is it time to land the job of your dreams?

    Sadly for a growing number of graduates it’s not. Sadly many are finding out that they are coming out of college in a worse financial situation than they left it while still having about the same job prospects. Sadly for many a bachelor’s degree is no longer worth the time, effort, and money required to obtain it.

    Unfortunately this country has transitioned to a business model of education. There are millions of college high school graduates whose families are able to pay for them to receive a college education. When there is demand, as is the American way, there shall arise a supplier to meet these prospective buyers’ needs. There are now colleges with admissions standards across the entire spectrum, from the many which accept students with well below average high school grades and SAT scores, to prestigious Ivy League schools like Harvard. Higher education has adapted to fit the ideology that everyone deserves a college degree.

    This ideology is a warped one. It has bred a frightening scenario within college classrooms. I’ve personally seen students scrap by with minimal effort, truly not grasping the content taught in the course but still receiving a passing grade. In fact, I have spoke to professors who have expressed dismay over the fact they aren’t allowed to fail a certain amount of students without facing repercussion from the university. A university cannot function if it isn’t receiving tuition, right? In order to keep operating a business needs a steady flow of customers.

    So rather than crafting students through education we are crafting education through the demands of students. What we have are institutions that remain functioning but give out degrees to those who have not earned them. To keep students and their parents content attendance to class is oftentimes the only thing needed to secure a student passes a class. I’ve seen this type of situation personally; we’re at the point where we are buying degrees.

    This is harmful to the rest of us who have struggled to master our studies and achieve our degrees. It’s simple supply and demand economics. The more bachelor’s degrees that are given out the less valuable they are to those who receive them. With lower level schools offering less difficult programs that give the same degrees, suddenly the job applicant pool is flooded with “qualified” candidates. I’ve seen it within my lifetime: jobs that formerly required no degree now often want a bachelor’s degree and many jobs that typically required bachelor’s degrees are now asking for a master’s degree. The worst part? These higher requirements aren’t coming with a corresponding rise in salary.

So the cost of education, the amount of people with college degrees, the cost of living, and the standards required to obtain jobs are all rapidly rising. The two things that are flat lining are the amount of available jobs and the salaries these jobs pay. This is some bad math. This system isn’t sustainable.

I know plenty of people with college degrees (some actually having multiple) who are currently working in restaurants, scrapping by at minimum wage just to survive and keep up with their educational loan payments. I have a handful of friends who earned master’s degrees and can’t find jobs in their field. The hope they once had for making a difference in the world and achieving their dreams is quickly fading.

I’m not saying that everyone should abandon the idea of college. For plenty of people it is the right decision and gets them on the path they need to succeed. There are fields right now that are growing and offering well paying jobs to many recent college graduates. The key is realizing what degrees are doing well. Engineering degrees, for example, are currently providing recent graduates with an abundance of well paying job opportunities.

And that’s my point. College is worth it for some people. A bachelor’s degree is worth it in certain fields, but current high school students and their families have to keep this in mind when making decisions about college. As much as we may love a certain subject or topic, with the exorbitant cost of education and the amount of degrees already out there it’s likely that what we want to do isn’t the best decision for our future and that is a sad reality. For all of you considering being art, English, history, philosophy, political science, education, communications, and theatre majors, I advise you all to think long and hard about your decision. A degree isn’t worth as much as it used to be and with the stiff competition and impending debt to come it’s wise to look into alternate career paths.

This is coming from a guy who decided to double major in history and philosophy, with a minor political science. I was planning to go to law school and got accepted, but when the time came I saw the price tag for a law degree was a little too high, and I chose to instead enroll in a master’s program. Always be ready to adapt.  

This reminds me of a conversation I had with someone as of late. We were sitting down over lunch discussing many things. My friend, who hails from the Czech Republic, is only here for the summer to work at a camp. We were talking the state of education and job opportunities in our respective nations. In the Czech Republic most colleges are free and state run, funded entirely by tax payer money. However because of this the standards to get accepted into these colleges and earn a degree are extraordinarily high.

“If I lived in this country, I just wouldn’t get a degree. It costs too much. It isn’t worth it,” he told me.

I nodded along, understanding his sentiments.

“So in America,” he asked, “the public universities are considered less prestigious and the private ones are considered better, correct?”

“That’s not always true, but generally, yes,” I responded.

He chuckled. “In the Czech Republic it is opposite. Public universities are free because you have to earn your right to be there, and they’ll kick you out if you don’t do well. The private universities are considered less reputable because they charge money and that means they’ll just keep students there as long as they pay. “

I couldn’t help but laugh.

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