Less College More Attractive Route to Finding Your Way

Columbia University School of Journalism

Columbia University School of Journalism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I suppose some people who quit college take a stab at going into business for themselves.

It seems to me that young people go to college so they can learn how to work for somebody else. Sometimes there is a disconnect between what is going on in the classroom and what is going on in the student’s head.

“Hey, they are teaching me skills so that I might beat out someone else who wants to work for (insert company name), too! Is all this really right for me?”

I remember when I first entertained notions of going to college back in the day. I was not ready for college and being in school again once I graduated from high school, was the furthest thing from my mind. I might have figured out a way to make it work–working jobs, taking out loans, working more jobs, taking out more loans…kind of like kids have to do today.

But I went the military route. After taking the skills/aptitude test and getting my results, the recruiter said I could do anything I wanted enlisted job-wise. The catch was that I needed to make it through boot camp and then complete journalism school with passing grades so that I could actually be a journalist and not chip paint for five years.

I broke my foot playing basketball the weekend before I was set to go to boot camp. I had to wait three months for another journalism school seat to open up before the cast came off and I went to Great Lakes Naval Training Center for basic training.

Most young people already work for someone else before they decide to go to school or the military or what have you. College should be about more than “what do I need to study in order to get the best paying job?”

In today’s economy, the best paying job could very well be the one where you work for yourself.

If I’m considering colleges today, the first thing I do is get out the pad and pen and/or calculator and estimate how much school is going to cost.

Parents want their children to have the best education possible. Education is important. But, the importance of it these days too often is limited to conversations regarding what kind of job their child can look forward to after they spend in excess of $100,000 to put their child through four years of university lifestyle.

University lifestyle

That is what I like to call it because the college experience should be about the lifestyle of a young person away from home for the first time (for an extended period of time), who is experimenting with their peers.

Because college costs are out of control and despite the student loan bubble being inflated long past the point of reason, the conversation has to come back to “bang for the buck” and not, “we’re letting John have a taste of college so he can figure out what he wants to do.”

Parents cannot afford the latter approach nor will they even consider it. If college is not “job purposeful” for students, many parents look at it as just a major money pit that will force them to give up on ever retiring some day, in favor of helping their child pay back student loans.

When it comes to our children, is the whole idea of college nothing but a very expensive crap shoot?

Most all of the young people I go to school with now are doing so for the promise of better paying jobs. They are paying an awful lot of money for their educations. They will be saddled with debt for the indefinite future once they have graduated, finished their program certification or obtained their diplomas. They will be working for free for at least the first year as they assume entry level positions in their respective fields; that is if they even get jobs in the first place.

In life there are no guarantees. We all struggle. The pressures to grow up, be an adult and find out what it is we want to be are ridiculous.

If young and in school, ask yourself what is it you like doing? Where do your interests lie? Is college doing anything to stoke your passion beyond the promise of potential entry level wages in a field, job or discipline you may not really have passion for?

Some people say Bachelor’s Degrees are the new High School Diplomas and GED‘s in terms of minimum necessary credentials to get work these days. But many young people can only find $8-$11/hr. service sector jobs once they get their undergraduate degree.

I think if I were young(er) and in school I would rather quit, travel some, maybe learn a trade, do something physical that takes some learning ability and just take time to process everything.

There is nothing worse than working a lousy job you cannot stand, except possibly being in six figure debt from student loans while working it.

If you can find something you enjoy, that offers something in return equal to the effort you put into it, even if you are only making $8-$11/hr., then maybe you should consider making it the start of your first career.

When it comes to secondary education and unless money is no object for your parents, you might consider this when you are wondering whether you should go to a traditional college or try something else:

The feeling that is learning to love, or at least like, what it is you do, stays with you through each subsequent career you may have. That has to be worth something–the fact you are living your life through what drives you and not by what other people would have you be driven by.


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