Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Is College Really Worth It?

Yesterday I read an article entitled, "Is College Really Worth It?" The article gives us 10 reasons why college is "worth it," citing "Friends and Spouses," "Life Awareness," "Purpose in Life," and "Self-Actualization" as reasons to go to college. So much for "learning."

In leiu of this info, I would like to take this opportunity to give my two cents on each of the reasons in this article. And we're off!

#1. Analytical thinking skills: Today's world is complex, and it requires making daily decisions about personal, economic, health, political, professional and social matters. Learning how to approach a decision, gather relevant facts, analyze comparative and contradictory data and draw correct conclusions are necessary skills for successful living. There is no better training ground to develop these skills than college.

Tanory's Two Cents (TTC): Interesting how they put 'professional' after 'personal,' 'health,' and 'political.' The lesson here is that it's much more important to understand your company's social ladder and the political consequences of your actions than it is to actually be good at your job. If there's one lesson that College will beat into your brain, it's this: Someone else who is just as smart as you is waiting in line to take your job, and by golly they're more polite! Analyze that one, Smarty.

#2. Career beginnings: Significant knowledge is required to understand the nature of most occupations. College is usually the most effective way to acquire this knowledge. For many professions, a college education is a prerequisite for entering the field.

TTC: Apparently 'Introduction to Art 101,' 'Literature' and 'Medieval History' classes are prerequisites for becoming an accountant.

#3. Career advancement: Many employers base promotion decisions on an employee's educational attainments. Whether or not a college education is truly required to handle the job is irrelevant. Employers need ways to rank employees, and a college education is an easily identifiable standard.

TTC: You read that correctly: the article just told you that promotions within many companies are not based on how well you do on the job or how knowledgable you are. So quit working overtime and sign up for your MBA already!

#4. Financial gain: While there are notable exceptions, individuals with four-year college degrees earn more over their careers than people with less education do. The difference in lifetime earnings between a college graduate and a non-college graduate can amount to several million dollars.

TTC: Very true. However, most people who have not finished college but have gone on to become billionaires actually got most of the way through college, and were just a few credits short. They most likely also went to much better schools than what we can afford. Or they dropped out their junior year so they could be eligible for the draft.

#5. Economic preparation: We all participate in a complex and continually changing economic environment, which requires some understanding of our economy. Where better to learn about managing your life's finances than in Economics 101?

TTC: Seriously now, what better way to learn about the fun and exciting world of finance, budgets and interest rates then by getting another thirty grand in loans? At 12% for 30 years, that's... dang, I should have taken Econ 101!

#6. Friends and spouses: Colleges, even non-residential institutions, bring disparate people together in one place. When individuals find themselves sharing similar experiences it's not surprising that lifelong friendships -- and life partnerships -- can develop. Networking within a profession often begins here too.

TTC: Mom, that story of me and the wife meeting in math class was a lie. What happened is this: I was networking at a party with beer, togas and synthetic substances, when all of a sudden, across the room, I saw this girl.... You know the rest. My wife and I really did meet at a college party. And I don't know where they've gone, but I swear I had friends in college.

#7. Life awareness: The next time you're in a group of people, step back and watch how they interact with each other. Humans are social animals -- we bond with each other through conversation and other activities. College serves an important role in preparing individuals for continuing social interaction.

TTC: You could do this at the mall for free, but it's better to watch people in the same socio-economic sector as you. And just for clarification, peeping through a window to watch how a group of girls interact with each other is illegal. (You know who you are.)

#8. Lifelong source of advice and information: Graduation from college doesn't mean you won't be back. Just the opposite. Today, colleges and universities are eager to keep in touch with alumni, some offering programs and services on both personal and professional issues.

TTC: Where do you think all that information on the Intarweb comes from? That's right, College!

#9. Purpose in life: At some point, most of us wonder about our purpose in life -- why are we here and what should we be doing? An essential part of finding your way is understanding other possible paths. Colleges, by their nature, bring together people with different lifestyles, ideas and experiences. Beyond the opportunities for awareness offered by the classroom and social interaction, colleges also offer independent study and internship programs that can let you explore alternative paths to find the one best suited for you.

TTC: Religion, meditation and self-flagellation aside, I realized what my purpose in life was my junior year while studying for Computer Science. I was reading this great book called 'One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,' trying to figure out an algorithm to match the number of a random aquatic animal with a primary color, when it hit me: hire a consultant! Thank you, college!!!

#10. Self-actualization: Psychologist Abraham Maslow theorized that we humans have a need to be somebody, to feel important, useful and of value to others and society. This self-actualizing behavior can mean developing and applying knowledge over time to build expertise in a given subject. Becoming expert in one's chosen career field is one of life's greatest feelings of accomplishment. As we age and begin to satisfy the more basic needs in our lives, this need for self-actualization becomes more important. Lifelong learning is a key element in developing a sense of accomplishment, and a college education is the foundation for lifelong learning.

TTC: Freud would have explained Maslow's feelings of need, self-importantance and self-gratification to Maslow being orally fixated, anal-retentive, and having a small penis. You would know this if you were collegically educated.

In conclusion, I do think that college is important, but for different reasons than listed above. I can't think of any good reasons at the moment, but I'm sure some exist. I have, however, thought of a great Top 10 List, called, "Top 10 'Top 10 Lists' That Are Totally Useless." I know what #1 will be!


Robin said...

Thanks for the post. I'm currently "college shopping" and i'm not sure if I'm actually going to go or not.

Your input on the article you've read was very entertaining and helped put things into a more practical perspective.

Bobby said...

Thanks for the comment!

Let me first say: don't base your decision on whether or not to go to college on my blog post.

My main issue with the article I read was that it was trying to give people good reasons to go to college, and all of those reasons pretty much sucked. They were all social reasons instead of acamedic reasons.

I went to LSU for Computer Science, and to be honest, it blew. I hear they've updated their CS program since then, thankfully. But I feel like I got screwed, and most of what I learned about programming is what I taught myself. (Although, if you're going to go into a tech field, the best experience you can get is to figure something out for yourself. The tech field moves too quickly to wait for someone to show you how to do anything.)

But the other classes I took, like the several Biology classes I took, were really awesome. I should have been a doctor. I'd actually like to go back and take some accounting classes, b/c that's what I should have taken the first go-round.

Go to college if it's going to teach you what you want to learn and help you achieve your goals. But if you're interested in doing a job that you can learn at a vocational school or by an apprenticeship, then going to college may be a waste of money. Just make sure that whatever field you go into is what you want to do for the rest of your life. If you're good at what you do, and you love to do it, then you'll be successful and happy no matter what. Plus then you can't blame me for telling you not to go to college if your life turns out a shambles.

Best of luck!