Critiques of Academia in the Modern Counterculture Movement

In the 2010s a counterculture movement against academia in general has developed as a general trend in criticism of how it upholds certain institutions in society, such as racial tensions and socioeconomic hierarchy. Young people attending school have become very aware, in my experience as a college student that achieving their goals in a post-grad world may not always result in a desired lifestyle as advertised by previous generations and denoted by standards of living that are perceived as more compatible with older ways of life in America and elsewhere.

Many components of the contemporary counterculture criticize academia in many ways. The most obvious criticism of American academia in particular as an institution is the admissions process which highly values standards of high school academic work that ultimately becomes subjective once processed through the college admissions crapshoot. The foundational education one receives before attending college is made obsolete and redundant through the college admissions process and ultimately undermines the work put in by the child in shaping their personal outlook on life from preschool through high school. The approach taken to the college admissions process, in its superficiality that is so fundamentally contradictory with the value placed upon general education in pre-college education, makes young people both attending college and applying weary and skeptical of the capitalist institutions college readies them to enter before they are even prepared to suffer the experience of achieving the degree. This phenomenon, due to the nature of the attitudes Generation Z and young Millennials have grown to take against malicious capitalist structures such as the nature of the American political climate, and particularly the two-party political system, imply a deviance from the acceptance older generations had of concrete academic institutions.

There is a variety of reasons for this. First of all the failure of the American political system under capitalism in the 2010s, shaped by events such as the 2008 recession and the election of Donald Trump as president have struck skepticism into the hearts of young people as they pursue all of their endeavors, which is understandable considering the nature of tolerance condoned by their parents towards institutions such as college, sexism, homophobia, racism, and intolerance of undocumented immigrants in the US leaves college with a rather unstable reputation in the context of these inequitable capitalist structures. Overall, attending school in order to further contribute to this current system has grown into an increasingly unattractive option to young people as they are compelled by modern media to question almost everything about their lives, and finally, not whether or not they are meant to fit into capitalism, but whether capitalism is really the appropriate structure of society that works for them. Because the alternative to attending college is socially stigmatized, the option to reject college and deny capitalism becomes progressively more attractive to young people who wonder what their life might have in store for them should they reject the status quo.

The contemporary counterculture movement is currently shaping society into a more tolerant and inquisitive culture, at least in America. People have therefore become conflicted regarding the topic of college as they are unsure whether or not their academic pursuits are even relevant to their futures, as entrepreneurial tales of success permeate the zeitgeist as the standard for social excellence. The combination of these factors make college appear not only needless in some contexts but as a scapegoat for “real” opportunities to create art, which leads further into a culture where college appears to lead to a limited means of self-expression in society. This is due to the fact that as the counterculture movement expands and changes shape, rejection of American culture as we know it has been brought into question completely, and although institutions of college and university exist everywhere across the globe, the actual value of education has gone down. This is ironic as a culture of reading books and consuming educational media such as news sources of the past has practically disappeared, replaced by instantaneous means of digesting media that is meant to provide an individualized experience usually centered around how an individual would like to view themselves.

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