What’s Wrong with College?

Absolutely nothing.

What is wrong is the giant assumptions and misconceptions that go along with college in this day and age. You are probably quite familiar with many, if not all, versions of the following:

1. “You can’t get a decent job without your bachelors.”
2. “A 4-year degree is what employers want.”
3. “There’s no way to prove that you can competently hold a job without going to college.”
4. “Statistically, people who hold a bachelors or higher earn more.”
5. “A college degree is simply the tried and true way to go.”

I am sure, also, that many of you could add to that list (feel free to).

Surely there is a good amount of truth in these words. After all, they had to originate from somewhere, right?

The number one thing college preaches is the ability to get a high-paying job immediately after graduation. This is also the typical number one concern among students and their parents alike: without college, there is no chance for succeeding in the job force. However, I find it a little amusing that approximately 20% of college graduates are unemployed; and, in 2003, the unemployment level of college graduates actually surpassed the unemployment level of high school dropouts.

There is no denying that, in the case of a great many jobs out there, if not even a vast majority, a college degree often gives you a significant edge over your competition. And, in many areas, it is simply required. However, there are a few points I would like to make against this claim that a bachelor’s degree (or higher) is the only path to success in the 21st century.

Not all job fields/jobs require a 4-year degree or higher to be hired. Many do not even require a 2-year degree, and some will even give you all the training you need right on the spot.

In college, there are really only so many subjects to major in; and fewer still that lead into careers that are guaranteed to pay well.

Even though there is a wide variety of subjects to take classes on, they are, more often than not, taught in one way: in the classroom with books, homework, tests, organized class discussions, and limited hands-on activities. College classes are rarely, if ever, taught to more than one learning style with no regard for the rest of us.

The great thing is that there is more than one way to get the education, experience, and/or training needed for jobs; jobs that not only pay well but also are more likened to your skills and interests than what is often a limited field of relevant options after college. Especially prevalent in these jobs and career paths is a great deal of the work you have always dreamed of having but perhaps gave up on because you thought them unrealistic or didn’t know actually existed. Not only this, but the many, many different ways of getting this education, experience, and training are almost always:

a) more suited to your learning style
b) faster and less expensive than a 4-year degree
c) directly related to your field of interest
d) ways to intensely study what it is you want to know/have experience in without having to spend years of your life and tons of money taking required, irrelevant general education courses.

One other mistake that is often made with college is enrolling just because a person doesn’t have any other idea what to do with their life. They have been told all their school years that after high school, one gets a college degree so you can get a job. This leaves many high school graduates to apathetically begin to attend college with no real interest or no real goals in mind. Even though I was home/unschooled my entire life, it still took me a year and a half of thinking, experimenting, and totally unstructured freedom to do so, to figure out what I really would like to do in life. On that note, many colleges actually prefer applicants who took a gap year after graduating college, because this year allows for the students to, among other advantages, get different sorts of experiences than they normally would inside a school environment (cough cough) and really figure out what they want to do and/or study, with no pressure from teachers or school boards.

What I have addressed above are just the bare bones of how you can have success in life without a college degree. This was a very hastily written entry, so please feel free to clarify any points I may have poorly addressed. And, please, ask as many questions as you want about the aforementioned bare bones. I want to look at everything in a more detailed way in later entries, and I definitely want to address any questions y’all may have in those entries. 🙂

~Jess

Sources:
http://www.epi.org/economic_snapshots/entry/webfeatures_snapshots_archive_03172004/
http://www.washington.edu/doit/Conf/articles?158
http://www.petersons.com/common/article.asp?id=3463&path=ug.gs.advice&sponsor=1

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