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Help me choose a college (or not!)

Gray Simpson


Joined: Jan 12, 2012
Posts: 67
Location: McDonough, GA
I almost posted this in the Southern USA forum, but I could use advice from all over. Anyway, here we go:

I am 16 years old, white, male, introverted.
I live in suburban McDonough, GA.

I am passionate about the environmental movement, particularly permaculture. I've liked plants since I was young. I love the thought of growing plants (and animals) for a living. I am healthy but not athletic. I have only experienced rural life through books, blogs, and videos. I have done digging, composting, mulching, sowing, and a little havesting, but our suburban backyard is not exactly prime farmland.

Farm work is not just mindless labor. A permaculture farm contains thousands of species interacting in millions of ways. It takes an experienced farmer to know when and how to tweak these interactions for his own benefit. The job involves a great deal of researching, record keeping, planning, observation, and experimenting. These are the kinds of skills I already posess and enjoy using.

Next year I will be in 12th grade, so I am beginning to think about college. I have visited UGA, North Georgia, and Clayton State. I might consider an out-of-state college, but right now I'm overwhelmed by the number and diversity of colleges in Georgia alone.

I am open to considering something else [in place of / in addition to / before] the traditional 4-year college experience. (e.g. Summer program at Chosen College right after senior year. Gap year. Internship on a farm -- Koinonia Farms, WWOOF)

At the same time I investigate colleges, I will need to investigate the differences between similar-sounding degree programs (e.g. agricultural ecological biological horticultural environmental studies/sciences/etc.)

What colleges offer good agricultural experience outside of the classroom?
Which majors offer solid job prospects? (if I decide to pursue a "normal" career rather than join a farming community)
Scholarships -- will HOPE/Zell Miller be enough?
I have a 4.0 GPA and 210 on the PSAT

Longest-term goal: be part of a thriving, civil, collaborative community (see A World Waiting to be Born by M. Scott Peck.)
Longer-term goal: try my hand at permaculture
Short-term goal: know which college (or other kind of education) in Georgia (or perhaps another state) will help me achieve my longer-term goal
darius Van d'Rhys


Joined: Jul 07, 2011
Posts: 56
Location: SW Virginia Mountains, USA
There are some good programs at Appalachian State Univ. in Boone, NC (check the Sustainable Dept), and many hands-on farming at Warren-Wilson College just outsode Asheville, NC.

Green Mountain College in Vermont has some great-sounding new studies but hard to get home for the weekends!

Best of Luck to you... we need more youngsters following this path.


http://www.2footalligator.blogspot.com
George Lee


Joined: Mar 15, 2011
Posts: 528
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
I've lived in GA a majority of my life. UGA's school of ecology is very very good. Friend is there now. I have a great contact who completed 2 degrees at UGA. I live in/around Sunset,SC now. Clemson is 15 minutes from me. GREAT horticulture school. They perform many organic trials and open-pollinate heirloom varieties. NC State Univ is one of the only schools in the nation who has Permaculture as a series of courses. Best a luck out there -


Seed Swap via Letter | Livingwind.tumblr.com | sustainable seed co
Deb Suran


Joined: Jan 13, 2012
Posts: 4
Location: Coast of Maine
Gray, you might want to view this permaculture course, videotaped and left online for anyone who wants to watch it. That might help you decide if the classroom is where you need to be. Go here:
http://mediasite.online.ncsu.edu/online/Catalog/pages/catalog.aspx?catalogId=f5a893e7-4b7c-4b79-80fd-52dcd1ced715

You might also want to look into the College of the Atlantic: http://coa.edu/
Leonard Barrett


Joined: Jan 15, 2012
Posts: 23
Location: Portland, OR
Hi Gray,

I left home at 16 yrs, and discovered Permaculture right around the same time. I went to Bard College at Simon's Rock, which also happens to be where Dave Jacke, and a few other notable Permaculture folks went. I dropped out pretty quickly, and that has worked out well for me...as I found I learned better through direct experience...but individual results may vary.

One piece of advice I often share with young folks who are excited about Permaculture is to try finding one specific area of focus, to which Permaculture can be applied (pretty much anything), and master that as you also learn more about Permaculture. The permaculture movement hasn't been very good at providing good examples and opportunities outside of farming and gardening. But there is much work to be done in the realms of appropriate technology, economics, community organizing, etc. etc. etc. So if farming is the thing that gets you really excited, great, but don't forget that there is a whole world of much-needed activities to which permaculture can be applied.

Best of luck, and feel free to get in touch directly through any of the links below.

LB


Designs and Consulting @ http://www.barrettecological.com // Blogging @ http://www.permacultureforrenters.com //
Portland area events @ http://www.pdxpermaculture.com
Gray Simpson


Joined: Jan 12, 2012
Posts: 67
Location: McDonough, GA
But there is much work to be done in the realms of appropriate technology, economics, community organizing, etc. etc. etc. So if farming is the thing that gets you really excited, great, but don't forget that there is a whole world of much-needed activities to which permaculture can be applied.


Absolutely. I am excited about farming, but I'm also going to explore related activities. The question is where to explore?
Neal McSpadden


Joined: May 04, 2009
Posts: 269
Your scores are good enough to get into UGA (and every other Georgia school with the potential exception of Tech). With the new rules, you should be good enough to get the full HOPE as well.

Check to verify, but AFAIK UGA is heavily into GMOs, factory farming, and pesticides galore. In fact, I don't know of any Georgia schools that support alternative ag in a big way.


Check out my Primal Prepper blog where I talk about permaculture, prepping, and the primal lifestyle... all the time!
Ernie Wisner
volunteer

Joined: Oct 16, 2009
Posts: 788
Location: Tonasket washington
    
  23
EVERGREEN


Need more info?
Ernie and Erica
Wood burning stoves, Rocket Mass Heaters, DIY,
Stove plans, Boat plans, General permiculture information, Arts and crafts, Fire science, Find it at www.ernieanderica.info


George Lee


Joined: Mar 15, 2011
Posts: 528
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
Neal McSpadden wrote:Your scores are good enough to get into UGA (and every other Georgia school with the potential exception of Tech). With the new rules, you should be good enough to get the full HOPE as well.

Check to verify, but AFAIK UGA is heavily into GMOs, factory farming, and pesticides galore. In fact, I don't know of any Georgia schools that support alternative ag in a big way.


Neal - They definitely teach sustainable agriculture. Ref here: http://www.sustainagga.org/
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela


Joined: May 01, 2010
Posts: 143
    
    1
Michigan State University has great programs, too. Many Organic paths for farming, horticulture, animal husbandry. They have extensive natural resource management programs, too. The campus is big and they do own a tremendous amount of farm, fields, orchards, woodlands, animals, etc for hands-on learning.
Amedean Messan
pollinator

Joined: Nov 11, 2010
Posts: 815
Location: Burlington, NC - Woodland, Clay - Zone 7
    
  26
Go to engineering.

Any accredited university will do. If you want to make an impact in sustainability and want to have enough capital to purchase a piece of God's canvas I would go engineering because it gives you a good template of reasoning and research skills needed to perfect and hone your skills. Bio engineering, mechanical engineering - engineering is a promising and flexible career. Unless you have inherited large sums of land I would not take this suggestion lightly because agricultural degrees are not high wage earners and are more tailored towards established students. You can take additional agricultural classes outside of your curriculum so do not think that engineering limits you to factories or industrial settings.


Those who hammer their swords into plows will plow for those who don't!
P Thickens


Joined: Jan 15, 2012
Posts: 177
Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
I am consistently amazed by folks who push college as an absolute. College costs money; it can even land you in debt and the first two years of classes are throw-away in terms of applicable skills. Lots of folks are using it and there are concerns about an 'education bubble'. There's no guarantee that the classes you take will be useful to your eventual path; in fact, College is mostly geared toward cranking out white-collar workers. That's not the same as blue-collar Permaculturists. However you have options: Skilled Tradesmen have less unemployment, stress deaths/illnesses, better hours, concomitant and comparative pay, are more consistently in demand, and their skills are transferrable.

Let me say that again. Their skills are transferrable.

That is: a plumber can go from making $$ on a jobsite to putting up a solar shower at home. Or irrigation. Or working on a wellhead. And a carpenter...! Wow, the logical extensions are endless. Most Unions offer greatly discounted classes to their members which are also available to the public. Our local Engineer's Union reports that 45% of its classes' enrolees are 4-year-degree white collar workers from other fields! Read that as "Lawyers and Pilots want un-killable jobs". Smart "new worms" (inexperienced workers), fresh out of college, take a couple of years to bounce from company to company so they learn the basics of many skills and get the experience to decide which trade they wish to specialize in; then they pursue that and usually do very well. Semi-retired 50-year-old Electricians are fairly common; Skilled Tradesmen create the best gardens! They understand hard work and focus and working with their hands. So Skilled Tradesmen (who start work at $15 - $20 and have time for independant research or take classes after work) are few in number but many in demand. Even in this economy. And that translates very very well into Skilled Home Agriculture.

That having been said...

Gray Simpson, you say your goals are to be part of a Collaborative Community that uses Permaculture. It sounds like you've never actually set foot in one. Have you ever visited one of these places? Have you ever spent a summer in one? I have. In a loose community of 23 people, only one had 4 years of college. Most didn't even have 2. The majority graduated highschool; a few did not. However they were every one of them exceptionally skilled in their area(s) of expertise. They had to be, to survive.

My advice to you is: Instead of being SET ON COLLEGE... go visit where you THINK you want to be and try it out. Ask around. See what's REALLY needed. Get some advice. (This used to be called Apprenticing -- it works very well.) You mentioned WWOOFing; a friend of mine tried it and I'd say you'd be better off apprenticing at a commune. Experience first, THEN decide on your course. It may be Trade School. It may be apprenticing. It may be college. But if you go do your class-and-lab (research and practical) you'll be much more likely to be ready to reach your goals... maybe even exceed them.

But to think you can decide your entire educational course and career from literature instead of practical experience is naive. You're allowed to be naive, hon, you're young... but it would be a tragedy if you allowed that to wreck your path, ideals, and life.
Raine Bradford


Joined: Sep 24, 2011
Posts: 42
Location: West Fork, Arkansas
    
    1
Amed Mesa wrote:Go to engineering.

Any accredited university will do. If you want to make an impact in sustainability and want to have enough capital to purchase a piece of God's canvas I would go engineering because it gives you a good template of reasoning and research skills needed to perfect and hone your skills. Bio engineering, mechanical engineering - engineering is a promising and flexible career. Unless you have inherited large sums of land I would not take this suggestion lightly because agricultural degrees are not high wage earners and are more tailored towards established students. You can take additional agricultural classes outside of your curriculum so do not think that engineering limits you to factories or industrial settings.


I have looked at the videos of the big projects Sepp Holzer has done around the world and wondered how he accomplished this without an engineering degree. Decades of observing and trial and error I suppose. Either way, there is great value for everyone involved.

I am 45 years old and have raised 4 daughters as a single mom. I have been to college and studied industrial illustration...but now I own a small permaculture farm. What no one asked me when I was 17 and making the decision that you are making is: "What kind of LIFESTYLE do you want?" Do you want to live in the city? In the mountains? Do you want to have children? Do you want to be home when they get home from school? Do you want to be free to travel? Do you want to own a horse? A dog? A goldfish? Do you want to have a lot of money? Do you want to live simply? Do you want to get up in the morning and go to work? Do you want to make your own schedule? There are no right or wrong answers of course, but I sure never thought about any of those when I decided to pursue industrial illustration as a career. As a result, I worked three months as an illustrator and quit.

My suggestions would be to think about some of those questions, and lots more like them, and then just try everything. There are no wrong paths. There is only experience and insight gained from it. Enjoy the paths and don't take anything, especially yourself, too seriously. With your grades, I think you would probably regret it eventually if you never tried college, so give it a whirl. Just keep an open mind, use your OWN brain (I tell my kids this regularly) and keep your eyes open for that next thing to inspire you.
Amedean Messan
pollinator

Joined: Nov 11, 2010
Posts: 815
Location: Burlington, NC - Woodland, Clay - Zone 7
    
  26
But to think you can decide your entire educational course and career from literature instead of practical experience is naive. You're allowed to be naive, hon, you're young... but it would be a tragedy if you allowed that to wreck your path, ideals, and life.


No more stereotypes about people with an education please. Before I went to higher education I was the ultimate blue collar, I was a infantryman digging holes shooting rifles and training to kill for little pay. Now after a few years, a few cracked bones and flesh wounds from many tours in combat I wanted to FURTHER broaden my horizons in school. Higher education is challenging and speaking from someone who is not into sweeping generalizations of class, it is an excellent path. Engineering is not for everyone, but it is a challenging and innovative career which will position him in the future financially to pursue his dreams of land ownership and further education. I only recommended he pursue but ultimately it is his choice.
P Thickens


Joined: Jan 15, 2012
Posts: 177
Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
Amed Mesa wrote:I only recommended he pursue because ultimately it is his choice.


* Thank you for your service.
* I recommended he research ALL his options because an informed choice is the best.
* There is a difference between grunt manual labor and Skilled Trades. Ditch Digger ($5/hr) VS Master Elevator Troubleshooter ($140/hr).
Ernie Wisner
volunteer

Joined: Oct 16, 2009
Posts: 788
Location: Tonasket washington
    
  23
Let me clear up a misconception here. If you find a good ditch digger you had best pay him a good wage cause a good ditch is a damn hard skill to learn. I was trained in the same sort of systems that elevators use and couldn't get into it because i was military trained. However I have a degree and just the degree is useful these days cause my dd214 is as useful as toilet paper and thats it.

Today any higher education can open doors formally closed while hard work in your field of interest can also open other doors that a degree will never allow. Is not an either or argument its an argument of pursuing both paths and taking the opportunities that both offer.

I suggested Evergreen because a sharp person can do both and get a good degree from a school that is recognized for its self guided study and brilliant graduates (it also has its share of flaky folks). hampshire collage is somewhat the same. you can also look into private collages that offer more what you are looking for at reasonable prices. My advice is to get a job that pays Ok and go to school at the same time so you can pay for your collage without getting into debt. Tell the employer up front what you are going to do and if they wont work with you to allow it find another employer. in my experience employers will often bend over backwards to let you take classes and work if the employer is worth working for.

Treat school as the most important job of your life, go to class, take lectures, apply your self, study, hook up with the old folks that are in school cause they will be the folks who really put effort into degrees. set up study groups, do anything and everything to advance your degree faster. Collage is no longer a 4 year thing most graduates do 5 to 6 years. take community collage classes, take summer classes stick to it because the degree is only a little part of what collage offers the general field is the thing it allows you to converse with a wide rang of folks in many fields. you can gain information faster and easier if you can speak the same language as the expert you are asking questions of.

Any how thats my rant
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela


Joined: May 01, 2010
Posts: 143
    
    1
Ernie Wisner wrote:Let me clear up a misconception here. If you find a good ditch digger you had best pay him a good wage cause a good ditch is a damn hard skill to learn.


AMEN! Seriously, if you want to make good money... do a job just about everyone else thinks they are TOO good for. Ditch-diggers, manure wranglers, trash haulers and brush collectors make a lot more money than people would suspect.

A college degree, today, is what a high school diploma was years ago. That is the sorry truth. There are many exceptions to the rule but not so many that a college degree isn't worth some effort! If you want to get a degree and you don't know what you'd like to study... pick something that offers a very marketable skill. Engineering fields are screaming for workers who do not exist. So, is skilled trades (and yeah... you need college courses for many of those, too, just to get to be an apprentice).

My son is 18 he started college last year. He was going to go into Nuclear Engineering or Nuclear Physics until his final year in high school. In that final year, he'd maxed-out all the math courses offered at the local level (yeah... colleges, too). Since the only course options left for him to complete his HS diploma were in theater (a waste of time for him), I had him take heavy diesel and heavy hydraulic mechanics through another school district. He found he loves, loves, loves this line of work. He is in community COLLEGE to get his associates degree and mechanics certification for Heavy Diesel and Hydraulic Systems. Then he can apprentice with mechanics. After his Associates, he will have to transfer to a State University to continue his bachelors in Heavy Equipment Operations and Management. That degree will open-up avenues the Associates and Certification alone can not. In addition, the degree will him higher marketability and wages. He knows this because he has discussed the issue with some local firms that specialize in this type of equipment: Apples to Apples and they will take the person who put in the time to get the degree.

You do not have to graduate from college with huge student loan debt. If you work your way through, not party, and pay as you go with scholarships and personal cash... you can graduate without debt. My son is doing it. He is on scholarship this year and has very high grades to maintain those grants. He also works a minimum of 30 hours per week and puts 90% of his take-home into the bank. If he is lucky, he won't have to pay for his schooling and when he's done, he'll have at least $30K in the bank to start his life with. To meet this goal, he chose to do the first two years of study at the community college instead of going to the State University for all 4 years.

You can get the degree if it's right for you and if it's not, take the time to figure out what you want first. Either way, the key is realizing that you are investing in YOURSELF... and employing the discipline to do it.
Gray Simpson


Joined: Jan 12, 2012
Posts: 67
Location: McDonough, GA
Gray Simpson, you say your goals are to be part of a Collaborative Community that uses Permaculture. It sounds like you've never actually set foot in one. Have you ever visited one of these places? Have you ever spent a summer in one? I have. In a loose community of 23 people, only one had 4 years of college. Most didn't even have 2. The majority graduated highschool; a few did not. However they were every one of them exceptionally skilled in their area(s) of expertise. They had to be, to survive.

My advice to you is: Instead of being SET ON COLLEGE... go visit where you THINK you want to be and try it out. Ask around. See what's REALLY needed. Get some advice. (This used to be called Apprenticing -- it works very well.) You mentioned WWOOFing; a friend of mine tried it and I'd say you'd be better off apprenticing at a commune. Experience first, THEN decide on your course. It may be Trade School. It may be apprenticing. It may be college. But if you go do your class-and-lab (research and practical) you'll be much more likely to be ready to reach your goals... maybe even exceed them.


No, the closest I've come is visiting (1) the local monastary, (2) a tourist-oriented farm, and (3) a couple of farmers' markets. In fact, I don't even know anyone who has visited a commune. That's why I'm asking for advice here. I could certainly use advice on where else to ask. How do I find out about communes? How is WWOOFing different from apprenticing?

"What kind of LIFESTYLE do you want?" Do you want to live in the city? In the mountains? Do you want to have children? Do you want to be home when they get home from school? Do you want to be free to travel? Do you want to own a horse? A dog? A goldfish? Do you want to have a lot of money? Do you want to live simply? Do you want to get up in the morning and go to work? Do you want to make your own schedule?


Some of these questions are easy -- I know I want to live simply. I know that I want to make a living, not make a dying (money.) Others just make me laugh because they're so far away -- I can't begin to imagine being a father; no point in planning that yet.

To summarize: Avoid debt, of course! Dangerous, sticky stuff.
Maybe study engineering or a skilled trade (plumbing, carpentry, electrician) -- plentiful jobs; transferrable skills; high wages
Maybe do an apprenticeship at a commune

Thanks for the advice and encouragement everyone!
Ernie Wisner
volunteer

Joined: Oct 16, 2009
Posts: 788
Location: Tonasket washington
    
  23
I would say pursue a degree you want (one that is actually interesting to you not one that gets the highest wages) and a trade. My degree is in botany with a specialization in bryo (non vascular plants IE. mosses and liverworts) My trade that i usually work in was sailor this makes me a merchant marine. Not great money but not bad either.

over the years i have used my botany degree three times and my trade for most of my life. However; my degree is something i love While i also love my trade it is also what I did to make a living. (i am one of the lucky folks who love my trade and my subject) Trades tend to change over time so picking up a couple would be good.
P Thickens


Joined: Jan 15, 2012
Posts: 177
Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
Gray Simpson wrote:
No, the closest I've come is visiting (1) the local monastary, (2) a tourist-oriented farm, and (3) a couple of farmers' markets. In fact, I don't even know anyone who has visited a commune. That's why I'm asking for advice here. I could certainly use advice on where else to ask. How do I find out about communes? How is WWOOFing different from apprenticing?


My friend did WWOOF with his bride-to-be for 8 months. They took on 6 different jobs in England, Britain, Georgia in the US and California in the US. Every single last one of them was that they were treated as ordinary laborers. Picking apricots for 3 weeks... pulling weeds for 4 days... laying brick in some lady's back yard for a week while keeping her from going insane from being alone with a 2-year-old... you get the picture. if you're looking for SYSTEMS ANALYSIS and WHOLE SYSTEMS INTEGRATION inside of a commune...

... drumroll...

...then you need to go to a commune.

Find a couple that are close to you and contact them. Ask them if you can spend your Summer Vacation there as an apprentice. Your parents might enjoy you going to 'summer camp' for a few weeks. You may want to do this with quite a few communes, just so you can get an even better look at what does work, what doesn't work, what kinds of attitudes work, and what kind of specialty is needed in such areas... and that you'll be happy doing.
Josh T-Hansen


Joined: Jul 14, 2010
Posts: 143
Location: Zone 5 Brimfield, MA
    
    1
I had the dean's scholarship at Northeastern University (for biz), but dropped out 2 years ago after attending 3 semesters. In hindsight leaving was a hard, but smart, choice. Don't worry about motivating yourself without college...it is easy when everything is relevant and tasty. The option to take one class at a time is usually open. Uh-oh, you've now merged with the realm Cosmic Bob's Plan for Your Life - as revealed to Douglas Bullock


relevant ->Hardy Kiwi Kickstarter l YogaToday 2 week trial l Daring Drake Farm - NY
The farming village was above all a society of philosophers without a need for philosophy - Fukuoka
Sam White


Joined: Mar 08, 2011
Posts: 210
Location: Caerphilly, Wales, UK
    
    1
Wow, what a great thread! Wish I'd had this kind of advice back when I was 16, would have made a huge difference. In hind site I wish I'd learned to be a carpenter/joiner by apprenticing with my uncle (or another trade) instead of heading to uni to do business and enterprise management (my priorities were different back then).

Having said that, my experience at uni has turned out to be useful. In an academic sense, the skills I learned (writing, research) are coming useful now that I'm doing a MSc (which I enjoy several orders of magnitude more than my business degree). In a practical sense, the business related stuff I learned/experienced, not necessarily from the classroom, will probably help in the future in terms of farm/smallholding management. I also have an interest in social enterprise.

In comparison, being apprenticed to a great tradesman such as my uncle would probably have led to employment unlike my degree and at least I would have had the skills and experience to go self-employed. In addition, I would be able to use the trade for my own benefit on my own property as someone else mentioned.


"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
Tim Canton


Joined: Sep 14, 2010
Posts: 174
I saw someone mention warren wilson........good school but its pushing 40 k a year to go there...........whole lotta $$$$ to be a farmer
P Thickens


Joined: Jan 15, 2012
Posts: 177
Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
Tim Canton wrote:I saw someone mention warren wilson........good school but its pushing 40 k a year to go there...........whole lotta $$$$ to be a farmer


Hm. It appears this didn't make it into my previous rants. Amazing how much I can yap without saying anything interesting:

Merritt's Permaculture courses is a better option, in my opinion. They have everything from soil bio to canopy management and it's massively hands-on. Geared towards the working professional and those who just want a freakin' working knowledge already. It's more of a Trade School approach than the traditional "2 years of shit-testing" debt-making other colleges make you do.

http://www.merrittlandhort.com/permaculture/permaculture.html
Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 972
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
And now for something completely different....

What I really wanted to do when I was in High School was be a Park Ranger. Low paying job, way too much demand - so I didn't. I really didn't want to be anything worth how much college was going to cost, and honestly, I couldn't slow down long enough to go to college. I started my first company for someone when I was 19. I, in time, became an expert on software development, a Director of companies, and now an owner. As a kid, I was introverted too, most wouldn't think I am now. You can get over it if you wish. I was recently at a trade show with a worker and the worker was in shock, I am a completely different person when "working" than in private.

I am 52 years old now, nearly 53. We own (as in no debt) nearly 900 acres - with a mills, a factory for making doors, flooring, etc. heavy equipment, homes, etc. Did I mention no debt? The 900 acres are plantations which are in harvest mode. Not all the trees belong to us, but we do make money on the secondary harvest.

The education you need is how to use that thing on your shoulders. Those who learn to think and learn from others and are motivated do just fine. NEVER go for an education where they focus on test taking. You need to learn to think, really think, and enjoy it. One of the best educations you can get is to work with successful people and observe.

I am not against education, after all, we paid for our two children to get one.

Oh, and now I get to be a Park Ranger... I guess I had to make my own park to be able to do it.

Regarding being an intern, make sure any place you volunteer you are clear about what your goal is, and that those who knowledge will be working with those who don't have knowledge. You don't need classes, you need time with people who will share what they do know.


Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica
Ernie Wisner
volunteer

Joined: Oct 16, 2009
Posts: 788
Location: Tonasket washington
    
  23
Very nicely put Fred. my biggest complaint with the high school kids is that school doesn't teach you to think or solve novel problems.
Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 972
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
Ernie Wisner wrote:Very nicely put Fred. my biggest complaint with the high school kids is that school doesn't teach you to think or solve novel problems.


School is structured for the ability to test. Much like if you grow a garden for the vegetables, you can get quick results by dumping fertilizers - but if you want long term results, well you have to build soil, etc. and your vegetables pretty much just happen. Education is easy for anyone who has a curious mind. Formal education is more for pounding knowledge into the heads of those who don't value it, but if you value knowledge, you absorb it like a sponge and schooling is often much too slow - and surely isn't flexible to follow your interest of the day.

One of the smartest people I know is my general manager, and he has a 2nd grade education... But, he observes, he learns and he values wisdom.

Oh, and another interesting thing. I am connected with several successful people (by any standard). There is one thing that is pretty common among them. They are awake at 3 am, learning.
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2822
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  48
P Thickens wrote:I am consistently amazed by folks who push college as an absolute. College costs money; it can even land you in debt and the first two years of classes are throw-away in terms of applicable skills. Lots of folks are using it and there are concerns about an 'education bubble'. There's no guarantee that the classes you take will be useful to your eventual path; in fact, College is mostly geared toward cranking out white-collar workers. That's not the same as blue-collar Permaculturists. However you have options: Skilled Tradesmen have less unemployment, stress deaths/illnesses, better hours, concomitant and comparative pay, are more consistently in demand, and their skills are transferrable.


Agree 100% except what I've put in bold about the trades. Many jobs are somewhat seasonal, there are lots of job related injuries, and I don't think the hours are great.

Tradesmen will be in high demand as the boomers did not push their kids in this direction but construction related jobs aren't what they were since the Great Recession. My husband became a plumber at mid-life and is more secure but it's hard work for someone 40+ and there is a very high rate of drug abuse (perhaps resulting from injuries). Hubby has said of the job sites "it's like a Grateful Dead show without the chicks." Any drug was available for purchase.


My project thread
Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
Fred Morgan
steward

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 972
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
    
  12
One thing that worked very well for me was once I became good at something, I started learning the next skill while using my established knowledge to earn a living. In this way, you can move with the times. Those who end up in a bad place learned a skill or got a degree, and then thought they were good to go for the next 40+ years. When you put it like that, it seems silly - but so many people do exactly that.
Jason Matthew


Joined: May 22, 2011
Posts: 64
I would have avoided college if I had known then, what I know now. College today is more about making money off your debt than it is about educating you. I am still paying off student loans from 10 years ago. My advice is to learn how to work for yourself, learn to be an entrepreneur and own your own business. I took the plunge last year after dreaming about it for 6 years. I am much happier; poorer, but happier, and so is my family.

School and college condition us to a certain lifestyle. You get up early and go some place to do work, then you come home in the evening to actually do your life stuff. This is how the industrial world works, and for me, it sucked. I suspect if a lot of other people were to try a different way of living, they would find that it sucks for them too. We are taught and conditioned to live this way, and most people know nothing else, but there are ways to work from home, ways to work for yourself that keep life in perspective and don't hold it at arms length as something you do in your time away from work.

Had I to do it all over again, I would have gone with a trade skill like carpentry or plumbing. The desire to plant trees and grow a garden has been inside me since I was a little kid. I might not have learned about permaculture, but I would not have spent 20 years working against my own nature.
Devon Olsen


Joined: Nov 28, 2011
Posts: 997
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
    
    6
so i do not plan on going to college myself but i do believe Monticello College in UT has some sort of agricultural curriculum, not really sure though cus i sorta glance at and delete all the emails i get on the subject...


Current Cheyenne, WY project
"Do you Hugel?" T-shirts and other products
Sean Kibler


Joined: Feb 15, 2012
Posts: 11
Location: Ohio
I know in his podcast regarding this very topic, Paul Wheaton mentioned Jack Spirko's (from The Surivival Podcast) philosophy on college, I just want to clarify something on their behalf. Based on what Spirko puts on his podcast his approach isn't so much screw college across the board. It is much more balanced, it is actually supportive of college, just not EVERYONE SHOULD GO NO MATTER WHAT. I don't like speaking for anyone, and I am paraphrasing here but I have heard Spirko speak on this more than once and do know that this is generally what he proposes.

It really makes sense and I have always gone with the theory that if you can afford to go to school without taking on a great deal of debt, you know what you want to do, AND having a college degree is significant in that field, then by all means get on with it. If any of the above is not true, there should be at least some restraint applied to the decision of whether or not to go, and if you do go don't expect it to turn out well.
Brandis Roush


Joined: Apr 16, 2012
Posts: 37
Location: Central Minnesota
I too wish I had had this advice before going to college, or that I could go back and think on it. But at 17 if you would have asked me what kind of life I wanted to live, I would have given you a completely different answer than what I want (and am trying to achieve) now. I wanted a cerebral and relatively exciting life back then. I wanted to read important things, write important things, live in a busy, posh, exciting city center with lots of activity, travel... but I didn't have a concrete idea how to accomplish these things, other than some vague idea about joining the peace corp (which I never did, because I got married instead). But even that didn't match up with what I thought I wanted. I DEFINITELY didn't want to do hard physical labor. I DEFINITELY didn't want to live in a rural area. I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, and I (at least thought I) hated it. I hated our closed minded, isolated small town. So, even though I had NO idea what I wanted to do with my life, I went to college. Not only did I go to college, I went to a University for four years in state AND THEN went to an out of state University for two more. They were two of the stupidest decisions I have ever made. I now have a completely useless degree in secondary education, which I got because I thought I could translate my love of literature into a teaching career. Then I discovered I don't like kids that much, and I would be miserable if I ever had to make a career out of teaching. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot more value in reflecting on what kind of lifestyle you want, just know that it could change.

However, despite the fact it was a very expensive journey (and between my debt and my husbands we won't probably pay it off until 2023, and we've been out of college now for almost 9 years), I don't know what I would have done differently. Even if I were able to go back in time and tell 1998 me what now me knows, I wouldn't have listened. I would be like "no freakin way you decide to be a farmer in 14 years... no way." And I'm sure that indirectly all of this lead me to organic farming and permaculture and all the things that I now think are important- I mean, what got me started generally was having kids, and had I not met my husband I may not have had them and definitely wouldn't have spent 5 years living in California, which shaped me significantly (people there are generally a lot more open minded than the people I grew up around), and while I didn't meet my husband in college I may not have met him had I taken a different path.... My point is, who knows. Do your best, make sure you also consider the money aspect if you DO decide college is the right path for you (meaning avoid out of state programs unless you have grants and scholarships to put a dent in it, and if you decide to go to a 4 year university I strongly recommend starting with a cheaper 2 year college for your gen-eds), but don't stress too much over making the "right" decision. Even if what you pick isn't for you, the experience will have value. You will learn what you DON'T like or what doesn't work for you, you will meet people who will enrich your life in some what, or go places that will do the same... there is value to all experiences.

Yeah, I don't think I helped you much But good luck on your decision! I wish I had been as enlightened as you when I was 17, and I do think that had I known more about organic methods and permaculture and the effects of conventional farming on the planet, the soil, and our health then I may have been more motivated to stay home (on my dad's conventional farm), learn more about it, and work to change the way they do things. Now that looks like, in the long term, what we may end up doing anyway.
Hanley Kale-Grinder


Joined: Sep 30, 2011
Posts: 112
Location: Mountain West of USA, Salt Lake City
    
    1
It sounds like you might do well in college. You can get scholarships and not have to pay for any of it. My advice would be to move to Santa Cruz, CA. Try to get a job on one of the organic farms there. Move into one of the communal houses and live cheaply. You can start taking classes at the community college to do generals on the cheap and establish residency. Then you can go to UC Santa Cruz if you want. They have really good sustainable ag programs. Go west my friend, go west.
Logan Simmering


Joined: May 01, 2012
Posts: 66
Tim Canton wrote:I saw someone mention warren wilson........good school but its pushing 40 k a year to go there...........whole lotta $$$$ to be a farmer


I don't recall it being that expensive when I was there and that was only 4 years ago.

Ok, after compensation for your crew, it's 32 grandWWC costs. however, their really generous with financial aid.
Joseph Fields


Joined: Feb 23, 2011
Posts: 154
Location: Berea, Kentucky
    
    1
If I could do it over I would have gone to Berea collage. http://www.berea.edu They give you a job to work while your in school that covers most of the cost of your education. I feel that the most important thing you can do is not go into debt going to school. I have many friends still saddled with collage loans. Read early retirement extreme, and surviving off off grid.
I joined The National Guard while I was in school, I don't recommend that path to many people. However, not having any school debt it NICE. It opened up some doors, that was also nice. It was pretty much impossible for me to finish college in the post 9-11 years. I spent almost 3 years in Iraq, I joke that I am one year short of a degree in overseas occupation. I just started back into collage this year online on the post 9-11 gi bill. I get money in my pocket every month just to go to school. I am currently trying to fortify my life, and God willing open a green house next spring and end my employment as a government lacky.
Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8

An awful lot of education these days is about fast-tracking obedient and unquestioning workers into the economy. It makes sense on the surface, but democracy is going to decline and suffer if we fail to educate Citizens, not just technical Workers. So if there's any way you can afford it, it's never a waste of time to get well rounded in the humanities and sciences and stumble on new ideas and new ground you haven't encountered yet. Kicking around universities really changed the person I am, and I'm grateful for it. You learn as much from being in the environment and following your interests as you will in class.

I also think it's super important to not get into debt much, so the economic realities of our time may be closing this door for you...that sucks and it's a failure of our system and our priorities as a society.

I have no personal experience with sustainable Sterling, but I came across some of their videos of farming with draft horses, and it looks like a pretty sweet place to study...might be worth checking out it looks like they do all sorts of interesting stuff...

sustainable sterling
day at farm

@ ernie... i had no idea you were a bryologist, that's my g.f.'s specialty!, ( i'm more about ornithology..)
 
 
subject: Help me choose a college (or not!)
 
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