I believe some Americans are simply saying, we don’t want to pay the price. We would rather spend our time on the net, texting, tweeting, gaming, creating our own little worlds. We are not willing to study hard. We don’t want to learn a trade. We don’t want to go to a demanding college. No. It’s far easier to devote our time to leisurely pursuits and let the government take care of us. – Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly, February 14, 2012.

For just one mere nanosecond, please resist the temptation to shoot the messenger and concentrate on the message. There is an uncomfortable truth in these words, yes even words from Bill O’Reilly.

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The world is changing. It is moving from analog to digital. It is shifting from the old to the new. Are we wasting precious time or making the best of our limited tenure on earth? Will we take control of our lives or will we ask someone else to take care of us?

When it comes to sinking or swimming, I have made my decision. The real question is: Will I ultimately succeed? Nothing is certain.

After a long kick-in-the pants career including leadership stints in the California governor’s office, a publicly traded custom semiconductor innovator and an international public relations firm, my prospects came to a crashing halt three years ago.

When I would compete for a job, I would receive “optional” demographic forms asking me whether I was male of female? Male, strike one; Caucasian of anything else? Caucasian, strike two; Veteran and/or handicapped? Neither, strike three. None of these factors has changed or for that matter will ever change, but I do know that more of these optional demographic forms are in my near future.

What I can do and some of my fellow, mature, white, Anglo males are doing (none of these characteristics are an advantage) revolves around preparing to personally compete again in this high-tech world requiring as Mr. O’Reilly stated, skills, education and disciplined thinking.

If all goes well I will finish next month my master’s degree in “Communication and Society” from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. I am actually looking forward to sporting the long robes, the mortar board and tassel. This degree was hard-earned, much more difficult than I ever imagined. I sweated out this degree. Would I do it again? That’s not an easy one to answer.

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As a Baby Boomer reentering the college ranks at 54-years young in order to reinvent myself yet again, I had several concerns:

1.)  Would I be accepted by my fellow classmates or would I be an amusing curiosity? There was no denying that I was almost 2x the age of the average graduate student. Refreshingly that turned out to not be a problem. For the most part, my colleagues have treated me well and with respect, and made sure that I was always invited to their bull sessions over adult beverages.

2.)  Would my annoying political philosophy be resented by my “progressive” colleagues? I adopted a policy that listening was cheap, and it doesn’t hurt to hear what people have to say. If my social justice classmates believe that Internet access is an entitlement and a basic human right…well then, intellectual property be damned.

3.)  Mac vs. PC. This was actually the biggest hurdle to clear. After two decades of jobs with IBM Think Pads loaded with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel and powered with Intel processors, virtually every machine at the UO School of Journalism is a Mac. It is akin to driving a stick for the first time, if you are used to an automatic.

Reflecting on O’Reilly’s words, I have to say that not all of us are willing to study hard and for good reason. I still have the scars from taking both Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis in the same quarter, and earning the Zertifikät Deutsch from the Goethe Institut. The 50-100 pages of laborious communications-related philosophy each night for the relentless Pro Seminar class was absolutely brutal. I made it.

O’Reilly opined that some of us don’t want to go to demanding colleges. This remark reminded me of the Stanford student holding up the sign (after Oregon spanked the Cardinal last fall) stating that Oregon was his “safety” school. If all else failed, he could go to Oregon.

Guess I must not be at the same academic level as the geniuses on the Farm. His opinion of my “safety” school is not going to make me any less proud. If a Baby Boomer asked me about going back to college my reply would be: “If not now, when?”

And finally, if I had a dollar for every time someone suggested that I was going back to college to chase coeds, I would be a very wealthy hombre. I am old enough in most cases to be a coed’s father…but that doesn’t mean that I am not interested in her mother.

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