The education system did not prepare me for the economy.
This is now a recurring theme across the disciplines as business and finance graduates are moving home after college, law students, etc. Students are not able to pursue the career they spent a quarter million dollars on. Action Horizon Institute is my version of a solution to that problem.
Growing up in a wealthy town without any wealth of my own made it easy to see what my peers had, and what I may never have.
The inequality was in my face on a daily basis. Why should I bother trying to compete when my peers already won? I thought we were all equal, yet, it seemed as though my peers were born at the finish line while I was still looking for my sneakers.
Brand new cars. Mansions. My mother told me not to worry — this was going to make me a stronger person. She was write, and I love her for it.
We never had much, but we always had enough. My parents divorced when I was about three. I don’t see much of my biological father. Not sure where he lives. It’s been about seven years now.
Looking back I can see I had little-to-no new opportunities, but at the time I did not even know the difference. If I had opportunities in the past then I may have missed them if they were suddenly gone.
In high school, I did not take my SATs, I was never prepared for college, I did not know I was supposed to apply to college, the leadership in my high school must not have thought I was college-material, and since I had performed poorly academically it meant that I was not allowed to go to college. My inability to showcase my talents in memorization had ruined my opportunity to become something in the world. It was not until after I graduated high school did I realize all my friends had left for college. Why was I still home? Wasn’t I good enough to go to college? What did I do to cause myself to be born into this cycle?
I went to the local county college for one semester, earned high grades, transferred to a school in Massachusetts, and moved out of the house permanently. I realized I might have a better opportunity to access the resources I needed if I was not in the same environment that enabled me to be unprepared for university. I did everything on my own for the next decade. It was overwhelming at times. Especially that first time I had to go from office to office on a college campus with each person telling me I have to go back to the place I was previously. The basic life skills in how to manage these things were all knew to me.
I majored in sociology because I was interested in learning more about inequality and social problems and what I might be able to do to fix it. After four years, I came to the realization that I was not going to be taught how to solve social problems. We talked about them a lot. I could describe them and give you the definitions. However, nobody looked at me and said, “Daniel, this is how you get involved with your community and start resolving some of these issues for yourself and your fellow Americans.”
As I was preparing to graduate with no job, no marketable skills, and no future, I was beyond disappointed. I used money I didn’t have to pay for tuition that didn’t result in the outcomes I had hoped. I did not know that getting a degree in sociology was useless unless I was staying in school to get my PhD. I should have met with an academic advisor on the first day, and continued to meet with an advisor frequently throughout the course of my college career.
In 2007, I had 118 credits complete. I needed two more credits to finish my bachelor’s. It was obvious that my degree was not going to do anything for me. I made the decision to drop out and not finish the last two credits.
After many phone calls from my mother, in July 2009, I decided it was time to finish. I went online to register for a random summer class. I wanted something that would be quick and painless. I was excited to sit in the back of the classroom, keep to myself, and sleep through most of it.
I could never have expected what was about to happen next.