Many students are looking forward to the beginning of spring semester. They are hanging their hopes on earning a college degree, or graduate degree, that will help them get a job that will bring them stability, income, and a sense of pride. Too many of them will not achieve these things through college.
As we all know, college costs are going up while the return on investment (ROI) of college is decreasing. How many of us attended college, worked our butts off academically, graduated, and ended up in a job that has nothing at all to do with what we studied in college? Exactly! Why, then, do we still encourage our students to attend a school that will load them up with student loan debt while not provide them with a way to pay it off? Instead, why don’t we encourage students according to their interests.
For example, I have no idea why I went to college. Somewhere along the line I heard so many commercials for college that I started to believe that the only way to get out of poverty, because I grew up in, around the corner from, and was best friends with poverty, was to attend college, graduate, and get a fabulous job. No one told me that college costs are exorbitant and all jobs are not equal. Don’t get me wrong. I learned some great things in college: time management, networking, which fast food chain has the best $1 sandwich, but none of those things helped me get a job that paid more than $30,000. I know, I know.. if I would have gone into accounting, engineering, etc. I would have easily cleared that low threshold. My stumbling block was that I wanted to help my community.
After working for several companies, in a few states, I realized that what I really wanted to do was share the lessons I learned in the School of Hard Knocks with others in hopes that they wouldn’t make the same mistakes. It was a revelation! All those times I got in trouble in school for talking, laughing, acting, etc. were actually preparing me for a great career that I love. How much time, and money, would I have saved if I had been encouraged to do what earlier?
I’m not saying that college is bad. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t encourage students to pursue a college education. What I am saying is maybe we should encourage students to look at themselves and decide what strengths they have before we encourage everyone to attend a traditional 4 year college. Maybe some students would be better suited at a 2 year. Maybe some students would be better suited learning a trade.
Let’s start applying some critical thinking skills to what the value of college really is.