Fine dining at an upscale restaurant is a lot like obtaining a college education. Consider Sullivan’s Metropolitan Grill in Anderson, South Carolina:

People go to Sullivan’s for the atmosphere, the fine dining experience, and the food. At first glance, the restaurant looks impressive. The inside is beautiful, the servers appear eager to provide, and the food looks delicious. However, after being lead to a table and receiving your drinks and meal, you do not see your waiter or waitress for some time. You find that your glass has been empty for 40 minutes, the roasted chicken you ordered is undercooked, and salt is nowhere to be found. Finally, you see your server again just in time for you to get your bill. Afterward you realize that the overwhelming price was not worth it. After all, you visited the restaurant expecting to pay a hefty bill, but you thought it would be worth the price considering that the advertisements say the food is amazing, the service is exceptional, and the surroundings are breathtaking. Although you leave the restaurant without hunger, you are angry with yourself for not getting a pizza which would have been both delicious and economical.

Attempting to obtain a bachelor’s degree is much like eating at a “nice” restaurant. Your first impression is that the staff are eager to help, that your experience will enlighten you, and the courses will add to your knowledge. However after finishing a semester or two, you can longer find help from administrators, the courses do not help your intelligence because the curriculum is opinion-based, and the atmosphere is no longer  enough to make up for your terrible experience, the overpriced tuition costs, and the lack of quality education. You leave with a degree, so you are no longer “hungry”, but you wish you would have satisfied your hunger in a way that would not have been so demanding of your time and on your bank account.

Shrimp & Grits

Served with tasso cream sauce, also available as an entrée

Society thinks that intelligence and college go together just like Shrimp & Grits. In my opinion, they do not go together at all. Some people who graduate from college feel that they are brighter than those who did not attend. On the contrary, there are a number of intelligent and/or successful people in the world who did amazing things without graduating from college. Some of these people include Harry Truman (33rd President of the U.S.), John Rockefeller (founder of Standard Oil), Thomas Edison (Inventor), Barry Goldwater (U.S. Senator), etc. Sometimes college can ruin a smart and ambitious person, just like a delicious bowl of grits can be ruined by shrimp.

Sullivan’s Hush Puppies

Tossed in a curried honey glaze, with a side
of pimento cheese tartar sauce

Sullivan’s Hush Puppies are just like early American history. If you do not dip them in pimento cheese tartar sauce, they are great. Likewise, early American history is very interesting if the instructor does not assign long papers to write and loathsome reading assignments.

Black Truffle Ravioli

Wild mushroom cream sauce and regiano parmigiano

A good teacher is like a truffle in the way that he or she is hard to find and is very valuable. Bad teachers are like the mushrooms in your yard that are nothing more than fungi that you cannot get rid of. The water that settles in your yard and causes these bad mushrooms to grow is comparable to tenure. Tenure would be a great idea if it only produced truffles, but too often it produces unwanted fungi.

Black Bean Cakes

With guacamole, charred jalapeño aioli and Spanish rice Black Bean Cakes are a pricey dish.

If you were ordering a rib-eyed steak, you expect the price to be high because you are getting a substantial piece of meat and meat is always a bit more costly than vegetables. Like Black Bean Cakes, my Understanding Diversity course left me wondering, “Where’s the beef”? The class seemed to be a course in the hatred of anyone conservative. The only thing I learned was exactly how much blame some people put on society rather than individuals. Where was the substance of the course? I never heard any facts, just opinions. Where was the meat? If there is no meat, why am I paying so much?

Pecan & Basil Encrusted Mahi-Mahi

Served over orange and goat cheese grits drizzled
with a peppercorn honey and fresh vegetables

Pecan & Basil Encrusted Mahi Mahi and Astronomy are alike in the way that you picture a beautiful dish or a beautiful cluster of stars and you are sure that you have made a great choice about what to eat or what to learn about. After eating a bite of Mahi-Mahi, you remember that you are allergic to fish and you have to be rushed to the hospital. After reading the first chapter of your Astronomy book and doing the first quiz, you remember that you are terrible at math, and you try to withdraw only to learn that the withdrawal date has passed. Both actions result in being angry with yourself.

Lemon Blackberry Cheese Cake

When eating a Lemon Blackberry Cheese Cake, you fantasize about being able to make a cheese cake that is even better than this one and for much cheaper at home. In the same way, you sign up for a course in Spanish thinking of how dedicated you are going to be about learning a new language and how helpful it will be to your future. Just like the idea of making a lemon blackberry cheese cake remains an idea, the same goes for learning a language. The idea sounds good, but it is easier just to buy the cake. Likewise, it is easier to accept that you can only speak English.