going to college

someone said: “I spent six years in college to get a degree, and now I’m thousands of dollars in debt, and I still work in a coffeehouse because there aren’t any jobs out there and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. I wish I hadn’t wasted all of that time and money on college.”

my thought:Hearing this kind of thing makes my heart break, honestly.

It’s not his fault for feeling this way. This kind of mindset starts at home, growing up. This is the kind of mind-set that is passed down through generations. And I think it is a real shame.

Because this poor young man should have gotten a better education at home, before going to college. He should have gotten a better education from his parents. And that education should have been this:

“Son, college can be about preparing you for a career. And if it is, that is fantastic. And some damn hippies will say that college is for ‘finding yourself,’ whatever that means. And I suppose if it does that for you, then that’s just dandy, too.

But mainly college is about exposing you to new things and teaching you how to think. College lets you see new parts of the world, exposes you to new information, and makes you think about things you never thought about before. And even if you never think about those things again, it gets you to think in new ways. New ways you can use over and over.

It’s like working out. You say, ‘Why should I lift this weight up and put it down again, over and over? I will never have to do that in real life!’

That’s true. But by doing that, you make those muscles stronger, so that you are better at doing whatever you choose to do in real life.

And your mind works the same way.

This is the attitude that I was brought up with. I actually don’t remember my mom or my dad ever explicitly saying this to me; but somehow, through their words or actions or both, this is what I grew up believing. This is what I knew. So I never questioned whether I “should” go to college, because I always knew that college was a “no-lose” situation. Whether I used my degree in my job or not, whether I came out of it knowing what my career goals were or not. It didn’t matter, because college had given me the tools that I needed to succeed in life regardless of my job: exposure to a diversity of information, and the knowledge of how to learn and reason.

Anyone who views college as a “waste” is simply mistaken. It’s the same as saying, “Working out is a waste, because I will never have to lift weights for my job!”

If there is one thing we need to educate American teenagers about, it is this.