I love reading. I’ve loved it since I was little and I probably always will. Reading assigned books throughout my school years has never really felt like homework to me, except for a select few times, and I can tell you that each of those times, the book that was assigned to me was a classic. Here’s the thing: I understand that classic novels are important pieces of work, I understand that back in the time they were written, many of them were huge, popular achievements that marked important points in the history of literature. However, I think classics are given much more emphasis in education than they should be.

Let me get one thing straight, I am not a picky reader. Sci-fi, romance, historical fiction, mystery, it’s all fair game to me. So I’m not against classics because I automatically think they’re going to be boring. I simply believe that just because a book is considered a classic does not make it a good book, or an interesting book, or a worthwhile book. I think that there are certain novels that were relevant and maybe even considered exciting around the time they were written, but I think some of those books have lost their relevance. Not every novel is timeless, so I don’t think we should treat them that way.

My junior year, I was told to read two classic novels in a semester. The description of “House of Seven Gables” sounded interesting to me, so that was the first book I chose. I loathed every second of it. Maybe I could’ve just given up and read the sparknotes over each chapter, but I’m a stubborn person, and I trudged through to the end of the book. Maybe there were some powerful themes or there was an important message hidden somewhere in those pages, but I can safely say I gained nothing from reading that novel. I don’t believe it’s possible to pick up on whatever symbolism or meaning you’re supposed to find if every page feels like drudgery to you. That’s why I think it’s pointless to assign a novel simply because it’s a classic if it’s downright boring reading.

On the other hand, I do think many classics are worthwhile. I’m glad I was given the chance to read “To Kill a Mockingbird”. It was interesting, educational, and had a message that is always going to be meaningful. Overall, I suppose my point is that the date a book was written doesn’t have any impact on the quality of the book. I think a student would be better off picking up Harry Potter than House of Seven Gables. Forcing a student to choose from a selection of classics isn’t going to inspire them to go on and read more classics if the books they’re being forced to read are boring. They’ll simply end up more likely to dislike reading as a whole, so that’s why I think teachers should give more consideration into the classics that they’re forcing their students to read.

College Countdown

The biggest thing on my mind right now is making a final decision on a college before May 1st. Researching and selecting a college has been a long process, but one thing that’s stuck out to me has been the outrageous cost of an out of out-of-state education. I applied to seven out of state colleges and visited three of them in hopes that I’d end up with a decent enough scholarship somewhere to explore life in a different part of the country. However, these hopes have proved to be more or less futile. My best shot ended up being through Iowa State, but with all the merit scholarships they’ve given me, I still haven’t covered half the cost of my education there.

That’s what has been making my college decision twice as difficult. Iowa State has a beautiful campus and a fantastic program for what I want to pursue, but the tuition is close to three times the cost of Lincoln’s – and that’s the cheapest price there was out of any of the out of state schools I applied to. My visit to Colorado State had me eager to attend, and I was hoping their financial aid presentation would provide some information on how to make their $40,000+ tuition plus room and board more affordable. However, their highest scholarship amounted to $10,000 a year, and that’s if you’ve got an ACT score of 32 or higher. Their advice for me was loans upon loans upon loans.

I understand that I can probably get a wonderful education at any of the schools within Nebraska. However, I also know I’m not the only student in my class struggling with the issue of wanting to go out of state. To me, college is the perfect time to step out of your box. That’s why I think everyone should be given equal opportunity to attend school in a different state than they grew up in. Maybe you want a chance to set your life up in this new place, maybe you want to branch out and away from the people you went to high school with, or maybe you just want a change of scenery for four years, but whatever your reason, I think tuition rates should be consistent nationwide.

It’s understandable for a school to want to look for ways to make as much money as it possibly can. On the other hand, they’re missing out on attracting lot of bright, hardworking students to their campus because they’re charging double the rate that they do for residents. I know that no matter where I go to college, I’ll probably have a good time. I also know that no matter where I go to college, I’m going to accrue debt. I accept that, but, as odd as it sounds, would love an opportunity for equal debt no matter the location I choose.

Adopt, Don’t Shop

If I could choose one message to spread to everybody, it would be “adopt, don’t shop”. I know that everyone has seen pictures of pomskis or puggles plastered all over social media, and you’ve probably said at some point in your life that you want this particular breed of dog or this particular puppy. Of course, there’s no denying how cute a pomski or a puggle is, and there is some level of appeal in getting to peruse through every breed of dog and select your favorite one. Be that as it may, this attitude many people share about adopting a pet is more damaging than most people think. Millions of dogs die in shelters every year simply because people see more appeal in spending hundreds of dollars at a breeder rather than adopting a shelter dog for a small fee.

I walk dogs a few times a month at a small shelter right outside of Council Bluffs. I’ve lost count of the amount of friendly, adorable dogs that I’ve witnessed being stuck there for months on end. It’s frustrating to see, because I know how popular it is to seek out a purebred or a designer dog. In case you haven’t heard of the term designer dog, it’s the result of two different purebred dogs being bred together. For example, husky + pomeranian = pomski. I want everyone to be aware that not only is buying these types of dogs unnecessary, it’s downright damaging. Purebred dogs tend to have worse temperaments and health than mutts, and if you mix two purebreds together, there’s always a chance that the resulting puppy is going to inherit these negative traits from both parents.

However, most of the public doesn’t consider this when adopting a pet. According to the humane society, only about 20% of dogs are adopted from shelters. This means that 80% of dogs come from breeders, pet stores, and puppy mills. This is an issue that results in poor health and overproduction of animals, but it’s also an issue that could be easily fixed. I hate seeing lovable dogs sit in shelters for months and months, but if Americans universally made an effort to look for their new pets at shelters rather than breeders, we could avoid the euthanasia of millions of animals every year. I love dogs, and I know a lot of other people do too (how could you not?), so I think if people were made aware of this problem, they would want to do their part in stopping it. Most of us will probably have a home of our own within the next ten years, so if you’re looking for a furry friend to keep you company, remember, adopt, don’t shop.


Humans May Have Shared the Earth With Dinosaurs

For years, it’s been believed that dinosaurs died off 65 million years ago. However, recent discoveries are beginning to challenge that idea, and even suggest that dinosaurs may have walked the earth at the same time as humans. A triceratops horn that was discovered in Montana has been Carbon dated to an age around 33,500 years. The horn isn’t the only example of evidence pointing to this theory. Numerous Carbon-14 tests have been performed on dinosaur bones, and have consistently returned results that date in the thousands of years rather than the millions. In addition to the C-14 tests, there’s been instances of soft tissue being found in T-Rex bones, and even ancient cave paintings depicting pictures of dinosaurs.

This is important because we’ve been learning that dinosaurs have been extinct for millions of years since we were in elementary school. It challenges a scientific idea that has been widely accepted for decades, and shows that we may have been teaching something that isn’t true all this time. These findings prove that skepticism is always important. Even when we think we know all that there is to know, there’s always more to learn.

My opinion is that no one should assume either idea is the truth, as there could be some level of error in both methods of dating. However, I don’t think we should continue teaching the 65 million year theory in schools when there’s evidence showing that it may be wrong. Though it’s widely accepted that dinosaurs have been extinct for millions of years, Hugh Miller, the man who found the triceratops bone, has been pushing his peers to try C-14 dating on other samples. However, most scientists refuse to even attempt this method. I believe that they could give it a chance, because something could be discovered that completely reinvents what we think we know about the past.

More about using the Carbon-14 method to date dinosaur bones: