What I Owe My Education

This link got me thinking about what I got out of my public school education. My school days weren’t roses and lilacs. Socially speaking I try to think about them as little as possible. But on the other hand:

1. Damage me now, damage me later, what’s the difference?

Some parents have told me they keep their kids out of public school because of gangs and bullying. I had plenty of times when I was threatened physically or made a social outcast in school. Unfortunately that doesn’t stop when school ends. There are bullies at work and criminals on the streets at night. I had my taste of it early and now I know how to have a thick skin, and how to throw someone in a locker if the situation calls for it.

2. Deadlines and life isn’t fair
I took art class for four years straight. My teacher thought the best way to teach the class was to give us a series of assignments that sent our work to competitions under very strict deadlines. I won a few, I lost a few, and I even lost out once to the judge’s daughter. Now I’m in the art field; the judge’s daughter still frequently gets the account. At least I can meet a deadline like nobody’s business.

3. Tests are really a coupon

I took the Texas standardized tests, four AP tests, the ACT and the SAT. The Texas standardized tests were a cake walk next to our regular classwork so they didn’t count for squat. But the AP tests got me out of taking three classes in college, the ACT got me out of another and the SAT won me a small scholarship. It was a nice discount that, since I transferred schools, also kept me from having to go an extra year. I’m paying for my husband’s student loans, so I know that coming out of school owing as little as possible is a life advantage.

4. All of it matters
I’m sure there were a million times when I thought, I’m an artist, I don’t need all that math. Except the art field changed, and now it’s hard to get a web design job without knowing some programming and it’s hard to program without being a little comfortable with math. And if you try to work for yourself someday, without some familiarity with accounting, taxes will eat you for breakfast. More artists should sit up and pay attention during Economics.

It’s nice to think you’re going to come out of school and work in something where you’re master of your own destiny. Except I wouldn’t recommend working for yourself to anyone unless you are prepared to lose your assets or maybe never have any. That has to be more appealing than your soul-crushing corporate job before you’re ready for that, and after that? Most of us are really at the mercy of our clients, who have the money, which we want. Ah, if only we didn’t have to eat!

Author of Strawberry Shortcake: Return of the Purple Pie Man, Disney’s Frozen Comic Collection, Transformers: Robots in Disguise Animated and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business. She’s written for IDW Publishing, Hasbro, Lion Forge, American Greetings and Scholastic, and her work has been discussed in Comics Beat and The Washington Post. Subscribe to the newsletter

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2 thoughts on “What I Owe My Education

  1. 3. University of Michigan in 1981 did not give credit for those tests. You had to take the university test at orientation for such things. Glad I didn’t bother with any of that AP stuff.

    4. I took economics in college. It was not about filing tax returns or doing accounting. Artists should sit up and pay attention during accounting class. I’ve read some accounting text books though, and I’m not sure that’s possible.

    1. If you know what school you’re going to you should research what they accept. I think a lot more schools take it now than they did in 81. You are old school sir! I don’t advocate college for every artist and high school economics may be as much as they get, but our class did go over some of the basics of entrepreneurship. I also took a college course in accounting and it just hurts.

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