Is college a waste of time?

This seems to be a common theme these days. Perhaps it is due to the fact that we live in a society that increasingly values the under-informed as it vilifies the educated crowd as “elitist” or out of touch. This strangely “American” ideal of pulling one’s self up by your bootstraps coupled with a mistrust of educational institutions as biased has led to this notion of going it alone. At the same time, Scholars do themselves no favors by publishing the following and saying things like “When higher education is for everyone, it loses its “higher” qualities”…. Hmmm that does sound a little elitist. College isn’t for everyone and we shouldn’t try to make it more accessible for fear of watering it down. Tell this to the Scandinavians.

National Association of Scholars: Ten Reasons not to go to College

But is it a waste of time? No. Every one of these points makes assumptions that lean toward excuses. You can make it without college but doing so requires certain entrepreneurial skills or boatloads of privilege in your corner.

  1. You are smart but focused on other things, and you want specific training, therefore Liberal Arts are a waste of time.
  2. You are not academically prepared
  3. You probably won’t finish
  4. You’ll be in debt
  5. College is a flawed bestowal of jargon and therapy that is not worth the money.
  6. You can work right away and make money instead of going to school
  7. You can get a real job without college
  8. If you want training, there are alternatives
  9. College culture is bad for you
  10. Keep college elite

I thought about all of these things at one point or another in my life, but in the end, they all are just excuses. Granted there is truth to some of it if you have the capacity to go against the grain and work your way up through alternative means or then the emotional maturity to realize that you need to take a different path. An example is my oldest daughter who went to college but was not “ready” after 2 years she made the choice to go into the military. In the end, however, that was not the endgame, it was her realizing that she needed to learn some structure and maturity before going back to school.

I have lived with a lot of privilege in my life. White, male, middle class, etc… I skated through and found a bit of success. Still, though, It has taken me decades to earn some career capital to get to a point I could even imagine more. Truth be told, in traditional corporate America, there really is a ceiling that cannot be crossed without that piece of paper and a couple letters after the name.

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