What’s the Return on Investment in College?
College is weird. Statistically, people who go to college make more money, and that’s just plain true, there’s no denying that. So we can all agree that if you’re going to work a forty hour work week like the rest of us, it only makes sense to go to college and get your degree, as you’ll simply make more money per hour than someone who only has their high school diploma or nothing at all. So, if you can afford it/have the opportunity to, go to college as soon as possible, right? Uh…maybe? See, college in theory is a great idea. You can go to a school where you learn about things you find interesting and also learn in-depth about a career you want to pursue, getting you ready to hit the ground running at a job that requires a couple of years of studying. The problem?
How the hell at age eighteen are you supposed to know what you want to do for the rest of your life!?
When I was eighteen I still had my mom come with me to my dentist appointments and fill out all my medical forms! And now you’re telling me that I’m supposed to make a forty thousand dollar decision on what job path I want to pursue to dictate the rest of my life?
When you start to think in-depth about just how much the school you go to and the degree you receive shapes and molds your future, the crazier and crazier college seems. So what ends up happening is millions of students go to college every year not knowing what they want to do, and through different classes and experiences slowly narrow their choices down until they eventually pick a major that they moderately like and go with it. This sucks. And the thing is, having a degree doesn’t guarantee you for a job. Companies won’t take you because you have a degree that fits the requirement for a job they have. Companies are looking for people who are can dedicate themselves to their job, are good with working well with others, can learn quickly, and are committed to helping the company succeed and grow. How many classes in college teach you these things? Some, if you have a good teacher that knows what’s up, but most sadly do not. You either catch on to it early or you struggle.
Most of us have not experienced much of life by eighteen because, well, we haven’t done much. Some of us have worked part time jobs, some of us have played sports, and some of us have gotten good grades and played video games. How am i supposed to know myself well enough to decide on what path to go down for the rest of my life when I haven’t worked a forty hour work week, had to sit down in an office for eight hours strait, or pay bills for my cellphone, electricity, rent, water, and food?
I didn’t know myself at all when I first stepped onto the University of Cincinnati campus, but I truly thought I did. The big ‘baseball bat to the head’ moment was when I found out that talking about what you wanted to do was a whole lot different than actually doing it, as, like most of you, I hadn’t done much of anything in my eighteen years of life. I was full of bubblegum dreams and fantasies about how hard I would work and how much fun it would be to find out what i wanted to do in life. It took me dropping out and not having not a single clue what I should do before life’s challenges and suffering began to show me who I was and what I enjoyed in life and what I was not suited for. Here am I am, a year later, still not knowing what the hell is going to happen next, but knowing more than ever about what i want out of life, what I like and dislike, because, instead of thinking about life, now I’m living and experiencing it.
So you want an answer, is college worth it?
If you are dead set on a career, it’s a great idea, you’ll figure it all out some way or another. College is a great place to explore your interests and passion to find your niche in life and really start to learn how to be the best you can be in your career. But that’s the thing you should ask yourself. What are my interests and passion? If you can’t answer that question in detail, it might be best to hold off on college for a couple of years. Go get a full time job, pay some bills, save a lot, and see how your body and mind react to long work days and few days off. See what you enjoy in life and what passion flares up inside you when you look at your life and see that if you don’t make any moves you will be working at the same low paying job for the rest of your life. If you do decide to go to college after living your life for a bit, I can guarantee that your path in life will be much clearer and it will be four years and forty thousand dollars (or more) spent thoughtfully. And if you decide after a few years of working that college isn’t for you and you’ve found a career you enjoy without the need for a college degree, then it’s time and money saved.