Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 9-2-13

Lee Pitts
Morrow Bay, Calif.

Many college graduates are now finding that it made no sense to spend $200,000 of their parent’s money, or to go in debt $100,000, for a degree, just to discuss the classics with other college grads in the unemployment line. Some schools now are offering “diseducation” courses to untrain people who are having difficulty getting jobs because they are overqualified. While these overeducated people had their heads buried in books their high school classmates who didn’t go to college were getting all the jobs.

As for myself, I didn’t pursue a formal education … I was an animal science major. Other than a small scholarship I paid every cent of my college education and it was worth every penny, but not because it gave me job skills. I have made my living as a writer for 40 years and guess how many writing classes I’ve taken? ZERO! But college was great because I met my wonderful wife there, and my dear friend and teacher Frank Fox, who got me my first two jobs in the cow business, first as a cowboy and then as a field editor, which launched me on my career as a rancher and a writer. So if you don’t like something I’ve written don’t complain to me … blame Frank.

I graduated from college in three years. (I had to because that’s all the money I had.) I could have graduated in two if I didn’t have to take all the required general education classes. To get my animal science degree I almost had to minor in chemistry and yet I’ve never had to perform one chemical equation in raising cattle. I was so busy taking classes like Philosophy of World Religions that I didn’t have time to take two classes that would have served me well: horseshoeing and colt starting.

I often encounter old college chums whose Breathalyzer scores were higher than their GPA’s who are now very successful businessmen. They’ve done exceedingly well despite having failed zoology, and not once has a cow asked to see their college transcripts. I can think of another couple of guys who did pretty well too after dropping out of college, you may have heard of them: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Speaking of jobs … I don’t know how a class in music appreciation gets you one. I remember one class where the professor asked us to discuss the meaning of a popular song at the time: “A Horse With No Name.” I made no points when I replied, “That’s just silly. Whoever heard of a horse with no name?”

In Ethics we probed the depths of Confucius and Kant when we should have been probing the depths of a good post hole. For our final exam we had to compare three famous philosophers when we should have been discussing the pros and cons of batwings, chinks and shotgun chaps. Six quarters of PE were required so I wasted my time and my money taking classes like bowling and golf when I should have been taking 12 quarters of roping. Which, of course, wasn’t offered.

In zoology we had to dissect a frog but I’ve never had a frog ranch, yet there’s been many a time when I wish I knew more about the inside of a cow. I had to memorize countless formulas in Statistics but it would have served me better if they’d have taught me how to figure the odds it would rain. I took several business classes but not one of them taught me how to survive on $600 a month cowboy wages, why you should sleep with your bit so your horse won’t have a frostbitten tongue, or how to do a cost-benefit-analysis of loading too much weight on a truck.

Instead of all these worthless classes here are a few I wish I could have taken: Introduction to Fence Pliers; Making A Bridle From Baler Twine; Cowboy Card Games; Pawn Shops 101; How To Find A Wife Who Can Cook, Clean and Pull A 24 Foot Gooseneck; and 150 Ways To Cook Beans. What should be “required” in college is practical stuff you need to earn an honest living, like, How To Sew Up A Prolapse With A Saddle String or a Hair From Your Horse. You know, the one with no name. ❖

Lee Pitts

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