The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted personally by the Vice President of Student Affairs at my former college and asked to speak in the auditorium to current college students. I am an alumni that graduated about 4 or 5 years ago from a college, before continuing on to a university. The reason I was asked to speak was because I stayed in college and graduated. Too many students today, unfortunately, are so stressed and overwhelmed by student loans, everyday stresses of life, jobs, etc. to the point where they are not completing college. So is it really worth it to stay in college?
I want to say that there is no clear answer, but by the end of this article, the answer will be clear. Just know that college is not for everyone. There are many successful businessmen and women who are not celebrities or own million dollar companies who land great jobs everyday and do well. They might have gotten their current job by knowing someone, or someone taking a chance on them, despite knowing they had no college degree. They may have just specialized in an area they know well and rely solely on experience rather than education when it comes to discussion and resume talk.
If you can afford to go to college without taking out student loans, than by all means, go for it. If you cannot afford it and you need to take out student loans and financial aid, than you may be well off to give it a try. College may just be right for you. But college is not for you if you do not want to be there. College is for those who want the extra knowledge, socialization, and education. Personally, I left college before I even started, settling myself into a dead end job with no chance of promotion, raises, or benefits, only to realize a few years later, the dead end job scene was not for me. I loved to read, had a quest for knowledge, and certainly wanted more for my life.
College is the experience you make of it. It could be the worst decision you have ever made in your life or the best decision you have ever made in your life. Will you be in debt when you graduate? Probably. Will you be able to pay it off in a few years? Depends… but most likely, yes. Will you experience lots of stress while studying in college? Yes. Will you make friends in college? Depends. If you want to make friends, you can make friends, but just know that the majority of people you meet in college won’t remain your friend. Consider yourself lucky if you have one or two friends you will talk to and hang out with after college. Study hard, do your homework, assignments, and get to know people. Get to know your professors and let them know you are interested in what they are teaching. Ask questions and show them you are curious about the subjects they are teaching. College will open your mind to understand, to putting up with a lot of bullshit, to dealing with deadlines, and being creative while you are writing papers. As much as I want to say that college is not about being a bullshitter, it most certainly is. You may need to improvise every so often and do what you need to do in order to get through a class.
There are no promises or guarantees that you will get an amazing great paying job when you first graduate and start to enter the workforce with a college degree. You will go through several miserable jobs before you find the one you love. But once you find that job you love, you will know it was your college degree that helped you get there. Along the way, the employer who hired you might have never said anything about your college degree, but the fact that they looked at your resume means that they saw it. If you did not have that college degree, the chances of them even caring to spend the time to invest in hiring you would’ve probably never happened.
College is a damned if you do and a damned if you don’t situation. If you are lucky enough to have the mind of a genius and come up with a product the world will buy from you, than you may just do well to avoid college, but if you are not, you may just want to give it a try. Or if you are lucky enough to inherit a job from your parents and take over the family business. Or if you are lucky enough to move up the career ladder without any college, than you are one of the rare few. If you do decide to go, you will meet some amazing people and you might even fall in love. You will make mistakes and learn from them. You will have some regrets, but upon completion, you will never regret college. You may regret what you studied, but you will find that most employers and the real world does not care about what you studied. The fact is, you went to college and had a sense of mind enough to commit yourself to a professional institution for a certain amount of years and actually complete it.
The fact that you follow through college and complete it to graduation shows that you can accomplish anything this world throws at you. When you have a college degree, you know you are already ahead of the population when it comes to jobs and careers. You definitely have an edge above many people. When you have a college degree, you know that you will most likely never be unemployed for a long time. If you utilize the college degree along with other skills and talents you possess, you can most certainly get any job within your professionalism.
You also must realize that as you mature and become older, your college degree is doing the same. If you started small and your college or university was still building up the campus, renovating, or acquiring a larger professor-student base, than your degree will become more prestigious over your lifetime.
So is college-university worth it? Through all the debt, stress, mid-terms, finals, and all-nighters … as I speak over 4 years later after obtaining a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and taking about 5 years to do it – thinking about all the people I met and relationships that developed, the clubs and organizations I joined, some of the amazing professors I had, the discipline to show up to class early in the morning and on time, developing the ability to deal with four or five bosses all wanting something from me and giving me a strict deadline for when it was due, the hundreds of thousands of different perspectives I was exposed to, the knowledge I acquired, the free food that I always managed to find around campus, and the fact that there were many places where I just mentioned I was a student and I got a discount, all while feeling somewhat protected from the real world, it was definitely worth it, especially because college was a great excuse to move across the country easily. Although I have no plans at the moment to obtain a Masters Degree, it is never far from my mind. I will probably try to save up more money before attending another college rather than relying on financial aid and student loans.
If you have the opportunity to go to college, I would recommend you go and then regret it, rather than decide immediately without ever trying it that college is not for you, and then regretting it. Start off with a community college, rather than a university, as those are more cheaper and affordable, and you can make your mistakes, drop out of classes you do not like, and not waste a lot of money doing it, and the first two years hardly matter anyway, as those classes are just preparing you with the basic Liberal Arts and Social Science skills that you need for an Associates degree. The great thing about college is that you can go anytime you want, at any age you want, and choose any degree that you want to obtain, but make sure you have the desire and discipline to learn, write, and deal with plenty of deadlines and stress. It is not impossible, it is not easy, and it can be somewhat tedious at times, but it is well worth it, especially on graduation day.