Getting out of Higher Ed Hell

When we're stuck in Higher Ed Hell, it's all we can do to show up. We hope learning happens by exposure to expertise like some form of contagion we can catch infectiously. Unfortunately, what does rub off is incompetence, ineffectiveness and ineptitude. We learn from the example of instructors being preachy, hypocritical and incapable of inducing realizations. We experience the content being delivered as useless and boring. The big challenge becomes paying attention since that is so difficult.

We also seek to keep learning to an absolute minimum in Higher Ed Hell.  We're functioning in survival mode. We aim to cut our losses, manage our damage and reduce our exposure to further abuse. We cannot handle learning more than the minimum while our plate is so extremely full with troubled locations and schedules for learning. It mostly seems like the good stuff happens in places we're not at times when we cannot show up.

In this place, we cannot be self-motivated to learn more, take on challenges or act more confident. Showing up is an act of desperation which makes getting value out of educational experiences seem like a luxury. We're extremely dependent on the imposed structure of authority figures to define what we have to do by when. We cannot judge whether the requirements are useful or beneficial as our own frame of reference lacks the prerequisite power and self confidence to choose wisely.

Our choice of  a college major in Higher Ed Hell offers no employment prospects in our "chosen field". Employers will show no interest in what we studied or where we went to school. All that matters is that we walked away with a diploma. College is regarded in the "real world" as an obstacle course to get through that proves the graduate has the ability to solve problems with showing up. We will end up in hierarchies where the work is routine and policy compliance gets rewarded.

We have no clue that there are higher levels to the game we're playing. We don't see that we're sabotaging our satisfaction, taking serious hits for no good reason or getting further damaged by playing at this level. We're coping with the adversity and hoping we hang in there long enough to get a degree. To get out of these hellish circumstances into a higher level of the Higher Ed Game, different gameplay needs to be executed. There are seven major accomplishments required in an effective exit strategy from Higher Ed Hell:

  1. Cultivating a positive self concept to replace feeling like "nobody significant" who was devoid of self respect. 
  2. Complicating the dashboard readouts of locations and schedules provided by the administration with one's own locations and schedules.
  3. Jump starting a Power Game within the Higher Ed Game which uses the accumulation of personal power to replace self-pity, victim stories and solicitations of commiseration.
  4. Exercising the newly acquired power to solve problems with one's own schedule and location in order to have bigger blocks of time, closer proximities and shorter travel to destinations.
  5. Adding two more locked readouts to one's internal dashboard which then monitors upcoming tests and resulting grades being given for machine-like performance.
  6. Getting caught up in the highly addictive extrinsic motivations and rewards of the "grade game" to improve one's GPA and college transcript.
  7. Choosing what to study in college to increase one's newly invested power supply and improve performance indicated by tests and grades.

These seven prerequisites empower any of us to play at the next level of the Higher Ed game. It rubs off on the faculty, administrators, parents and colleagues. It becomes obvious that some authentic learning is happening from playing the game well, if not from what is actually getting taught, tested and graded. Getting more out of the college experience and expense becomes attainable. The game has gone far beyond just showing up and hoping learning happens by exposure.

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