I recently finished reading Ayn Rand’s, The Fountainhead, for the first time since I dropped out of the University of Michigan about a year ago. It was as enjoyable and enlightening as ever, and this time around I was pleasantly surprised by its relevancy both to my own experiences as a dropout and to the vision that Praxis is attempting to realize.
I think now that if I had the book fresh in my mind when it was time to apply to college, I would have never chosen to attend, and I would not have wasted two years trying to rediscover what I already knew: that college wasn’t for me.
Since I wouldn’t wish college on anybody except as a sort of punishment, I’ve collected six of my favorite quotes from the book to help you reconsider your decision to attend college.
1. Your barriers are self imposed
“Who will let you? That’s not the point. The point is who will stop me.”
2. You have one life. Live it for yourself.
“…But you see, I have, let’s say, sixty years to live. Most of that time will be spent working. I’ve chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I’m only condemning myself to sixty years of torture. And I can find the joy only if I do my work in the best way possible to me. But the best is a matter of standards—and I set my own standards.”
3. The type of people you meet in college
“Listen to what is being preached today. Look at everyone around us. You’ve wondered why they suffer, why they seek happiness and never find it. If any man stopped and asked himself whether he’s ever held a truly personal desire, he’d find the answer. He’d see that all his wishes, his efforts, his dreams, his ambitions are motivated by other men. He’s not really struggling even for material wealth, but for the second-hander’s delusion – prestige. A stamp of approval, not his own. He can find no joy in the struggle and no joy when he has succeeded. He can’t say about a single thing: ‘This is what I wanted because I wanted it, not because it made my neighbors gape at me’. Then he wonders why he’s unhappy.”
4. Stay true to yourself
“To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much harder?”
5. Remind you of school?
“During his first week at school the teacher called on Gail Wynand constantly – it was sheer pleasure to her, because he always knew the answers. When he trusted his superiors and their purpose, he obeyed like a Spartan…But the force of his will was wasted: within a week he saw that he needed no effort to be first in the class. After a month the teacher stopped noticing his presence; it seemed pointless, he always knew his lesson and she had to concentrate on the slower, duller children. He sat, unflinching, through hours that dragged like chains, while the teacher repeated and chewed and rechewed, sweating to force some spark of intellect from vacant eyes and mumbling voices.”
6. Pioneers of the inevitable
“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received—hatred. The great creators—the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors—stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.”
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