“You don’t learn anything from college. It is the piece of paper that matters.”
“Ivy League colleges are great for the connections.”
“I don’t even remember anything from the classes I took my Junior year.”
These aren’t exact quotes, but we’ve heard variations of these sentiments before. It is unfortunate, but most people don’t seem to get the benefit out of college that they expect. Not only that, many freshmen going into the collegiate system already jaded about the educational experience. Many believe that the only reason to go to college is to get the degree: a large, 4 year ploy to convince someone, somewhere, to hire them. Regrettably, this heist-like mentality towards college leads teenagers to make stupid decisions about loans and college expenses. Not only that, but now the real work of finding a suitable job to pay off their degree begins, and many end up getting jobs at places which don’t require a degree at all. So the question becomes: was it worth it? Did they learn anything?
Some people hold tight to the argument that college is not necessarily about the classroom learning, but about the social environment.
“The knowledge is valuable, but the friends and connections are invaluable.”
This is valid, but flawed. I mean, does a person really need to go to a college, get “free” money from the government and universities to buy books that are never used and attend multiple pointless classes in order to have a social life and learn how to live? Sure, some people need it, but there are many more social competent teens who only go because a university education is the only reasonable path to getting a job. And who is to say that the normal course of life won’t lead the students to more profitable employer connections than those made in college? But, not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, and for those that don’t, going to a traditional college can often seem like the only valid choice.
I wonder: If it wasn’t normalized, would it make sense to go off and spend 4-5 years at a place where you don’t make money AND don’t learn anything about your future career? In fact, not only do you not make money, you lose money. It takes up all your time. And once you finish then you can start looking for entry level jobs that have you starting on the bottom for little to no pay. It makes no sense outside of the false infrastructure we have created.
However, some will argue that you go to school to get specialized knowledge in a certain field. Especially now, in the age of the internet, that is what people need. General knowledge is wonderful, but that is not what employers care about. Employers care more and more about specific knowledge. And what benefit will you really get out of two years of required classes on Anna Karenina & Russian Literature when what you need is to learn how to use Quickbooks and how to work as the member of a team in an accounting firm? Perhaps those first 2 years of general education will help you find your calling. This is a scam. Do you really need 2 extra years in an expensive institution to find your calling?
What other options are there? The first option is the nuclear: don’t go to college. Graduate high school, get a job, and start growing from there. You may find your calling. You may not. You may even get promoted. But, because of the way society works, the college diploma still makes a difference, and extremely intelligent people can get shut out of jobs solely due to a lack of proper education. The second option is a little less extreme, and is cropping up more and more: finding an employer who will pay for your education. The third and final option is the way I completed my degree: and that is finishing college rapidly by testing out of a substantial amount of classes. It is viable. And all it takes is a little more work in making sure you have all the proper classes available to test out of and that your university will accept the credits. Getting it all done faster means you will have more time to gain that oh so valuable experience. Hopefully you’ll also get out without or with minimal debt.
No one can tell you if a college education is worth it, but if you’re on the fence, jumping on the loans and hoping it all works doesn’t make sense anymore.
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