A student waits nervously and impatiently while looking out the window, hoping and waiting for the mail man to appear. Everyday after school, she rushes toward the pile of letters to see if anything special has arrived. Her parents pace nervously around in their rooms hoping to hear the good news. It’s been a very exciting and nerve-wracking week because the university acceptance/rejection letter will arrive any day now.
Of course this student and her parents should be worried. I mean you’re supposed to go to college. Even if you don’t have a desired profession or a life-long career path planned out, you still have to go to college no matter what. Because, well… because that’s just what everyone does right? You’re supposed to go to college; that’s what everyone tells you. It’s middle school, high school, then college, or you’ll be “flipping burgers” or “greeting people at Walmart.”
Go to college… ’cause it’s the rules
It’s strange how we as a society came to this idea that everyone should go to college. It doesn’t matter what you study, just “get any degree” and you’ll have all these amazing opportunities knocking at your door. This is the same rhetoric that’s been tossed out towards us by everyone from our own parents, to our school teachers, the media… even the President of the United States thinks everybody should go to college ’cause you know there are so many jobs out there waiting to be had and the great economy needs you!
Why do people think this way? Why is college so important to us?
When I first arrived at my college campus, I had big dreams of getting a degree and living life like a big shot who calls all the shots. I thought I would be living the dream with at least an upper-middle class lifestyle. All I needed to do was study hard and ace all the prerequisite courses that I really didn’t need, nor did I care at all about (Their true purpose is to suck a bit of extra “funding” out of your pocket). Although I worked very hard, by my third year, I got so sick of worrying more about my finances than my actual course curriculum that I finally called it quits.
A college degree is supposed to open doors
So why is everyone so uptight when it comes to their children getting in to college? for years, it’s been ground into our heads like a jack hammer that a college degree leads to more opportunities and that you will earn more money if you have a degree than your average sucker who didn’t seem to ever get the memo.
All the stats show that when you go to college and obtain a degree, that you are more likely to be employed and earn more. I agree with this, but that’s because a lot of employers require college degrees for jobs that don’t require them. Also, many students will succeed only if they belong in college in the first place and are studying something worth while.
I honestly don’t believe that everyone should go to college. The people who can attribute their success to their college degree can do so because they had a purpose from the very beginning and forged a clear path for what they want to do in life, but there are many other students who are just as intelligent and driven as the afore mentioned that don’t really need to be there.
Many students just aren’t hardwired to be accustomed to rigid schedules and frequent tests. There are people who function best when they are allowed to think freely… people who think outside the box. People like entrepreneurs, artists, writers, programmers and many other creative and imaginative types are far better at doing things on their own time.
I’m not lazy… Just really creative
A lot of these creative types feel cooped up by the lack of an outlet for their creativity and slowly begin to feel smothered. Not all creatives are prone to dropping out, and not all people who have an aptitude for scholastics are bound for a degree, but It’s pretty clear that some people just aren’t a good fit for college.
But our society looks very respectfully towards a person with a four-year degree. If you don’t have a degree, you will inevitably end up as a part of that low class. Those “losers” who can’t get a “real job” and will be working side by side with teenagers for the rest of their lives. Now, in order to understand this way of thinking, first think of what it means to be successful today and then think about what it meant throughout history.
Degree = money
Throughout much of the past, you needed your own property and some land. Then came the rise of corporate America and hourly wages. An emphasis was placed on landing better and higher paying jobs, which could mean a better life. Later society began to value highly specialized occupations and the people that were well trained in these areas.
Doctors, lawyers, engineers, and many other occupations required highly skilled people that were adequately trained. Universities began offering an education in these areas, but somewhere along the line, our society began to value “just degrees” in general, and started to link “having a degree” with “being successful.”
Soon after, universities began offering more and more “degree programs” for more jobs that shouldn’t require you to go to college. The reason our society chases success and forges a path for it that can only be traveled on by means of higher education is because we’ve adopted this belief that everyone should, or should be able to go to college, and that we as a society have attached this meaning of status to a college education, no matter how meaningless or useless the curriculum or how well it applies to real life.
Why “everyone should go to college” is a BAD idea.
There are many degree programs that are just sucking students dry, when they could have self taught themselves what is necessary to pursue their own passion. Their are tutoring web sites like Udemy, Khan academy, and many more, but you’ve got students who go to a public university, spend 50-60 thousand dollars a semester and rack up an incredible amount of debt over four years just to earn a degree in music, art, exercise sports science or some other certificate that doesn’t really translate into the job market.
In my opinion there are four areas of study that are most useful and actually payoff: Education, Law, Medical, and S.T.E.M. There may be others, but I believe these main four, as the years go by and as the cost of college continues to rise, will still payoff. These four areas are also really necessary and actually require a full and thorough education in order to be qualified in those fields.
A lot of students don’t know why they are there:
Many students go to college without any idea of their future plans during and after their education. They get there thinking that they will eventually figure it out as the years go by… Correct me if I’m wrong, but um… isn’t that kinda backwards? Shouldn’t you have plans set before you even consider making such a huge and potentially damaging financial decision? I also came across a couple of students throughout my college years that are now old friends of mine that have each told me that they had changed their major more than five times! That is absolutely Insane!
You gain a “need a job” mentality:
When you’ve been told your whole life that you need to go to college regardless of what your interested in or what drives your curiosity just because you “might“ get a job, then you’ve already put yourself in a position to be dependent on having a job as your only source of financial stability. As you can tell from the title of this blog, I’m not a big fan of seeking and holding down a job. Telling everyone that you should go to college and “just get a degree” so you can “get a job” is a mistake, and college doesn’t really guarantee a job.
People end up with jobs that have nothing to do with the degrees they obtained:
I know a person that studied computer science and is now working at an auto dealership. I also know a girl that studied art that ended up working at a coffee shop. When you go to college to study something that you could have learned on your own (Codecademy), or race into a university simply with the notion that “any degree will do,” you end up being either underemployed due to your “university education” not being sufficient enough, or you obtain a degree that doesn’t really translate well to the job market.
What is the future of higher education? Is it sustainable?
America is slowly becoming saturated with college grads and not enough jobs. Millennials are more likely than any other age group to be underemployed. They bust their butts throughout their curriculum for years, only to end up working jobs that never really required a degree to begin with. When you think about it, it’s almost like you’ve been ripped off. You’ve spent all that money for 8+ semesters only to be in debt with a job that can’t keep up.
More students more cash.
The cost of a four-year education has risen 538% since 1985. That’s an increase of 4.5 times in 30 years. The reason for the rise in tuition is not price gouging by universities, but a simple case of supply and demand. When everyone believes that education is right and not a privilege, or some sort of unavoidable cultural rite of passage that everyone must take part in, you get universities that are swamped with applications that force universities to either clamp down on their acceptance criteria, or raise tuition… and it’s obvious which one they choose…
As tuition rises and wages stagnate, it becomes more difficult to pay back what you owe. If you end up like I did, you’ll be getting 15% lopped off your already crappy paycheck by the department of education and having your entire tax return paycheck taken by the IRS. Student debt has risen sharply in the last five years and it only seems to be getting worse.
Something seems incredibly broken about our education system, but rather than finding alternatives to our situation, we as a society continue to throw more money at the ever expanding debt bubble, feeding the next generation with false ideas of financial success. What people need to understand, is that college is not the only way to succeed in life. There are many ways to sustain one’s self without needing to secure a certificate that says you are “owed” a job. You have options out there that not only free you from needing an employer, but also free your time and can potentially make you a lot happier.
Become an entrepreneur!
Wouldn’t it feel awesome to be able to dictate how much money you make? Wouldn’t it be an exciting feeling sitting in that lecture hall knowing that you make thousands more than your classmates, professors, deans and even university board members? What if I told you that with step-by-step online entrepreneurship training, you could actually be your own boss and dictate your own salary instead of your financial success being determined by a certificate or a future(maybe not) employer?
You spend thousands of dollars a year just to learn an extra amount of useless fluff just because someone told you that it will guarantee you a better life. The typical time it takes to earn a bachelors degree is 4 years. By contrast, it usually takes just six months to really start earning money online. Now imagine what you could be earning by that 4 year mark?
When you’re making 10,000s of dollars a month, you don’t have to worry about endless job fairs and interviews. You never have to worry if your grades and ultimately your certificate are good enough. Your success is all your own and you never have to worry about loosing what’s yours.
College does have its uses, and if your career path requires it, then go for it. However, if you’re going off to university thinking that “you have to… just because,” or you think it’ll land you a chance of getting a great job, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. In that case, give yourself a different alternative, and try something a little “out of the box,” and see how things turn out.
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