Why go to College?This is going to be the beginning of a two part series on the topic of what to get from an undergraduate education. In this first section, I’m going to suggest that most people don’t think hard enough about what they want from their education. In the second section I’m going to give specific advice for a) the student who has a good record after high school and b) for the student who has a bad record after high school.
Most people are told to go to college for one simple reason—money. Lots of statistic will be shown to indicate the a college education will put you on to a path of being rich, powerful and happy, while failing to attend college will force you to live out of the back seat of a Ford Pinto. Students are told that a paycheck will follow college, and high school is necessary for college. Follow the rules and get rich!
First, I’d ask how much money do you want and how badly do you want it? It’s not uncommon for driven people to work 80 hours of their week. Is it worth it to you to spend all your time doing a job you hate in order to have a few more bucks the couple hours a week you actually get to enjoy it?
Second, if you really want to be super rich following all the rules is probably not going to get you there. Your college education is likely to matter very little, so there is no need to be fancy about it. You are going to need lots of luck, lots of ambition, and a willingness to take big risks. That includes dropping out of school when the opportunity presents itself.
But is there some other reason to go to college? Yes. You could go to college to get an education! I know it sounds strange, but in college they have people called professors and things called books. These are designed to impart knowledge. The unexamined life…
I can honestly say that the education I received has absolutely changed my view of reality. There is a whole world of thought out there just waiting for eager minds to tap it. Going to school as a hurdle to future success is unlikely to help you discover this world. Rather, it’s likely to make you view every class as a game to be defeated towards a slip of paper. You will spend your early twenties, postponing your life rather than living it. That’s a bad position to be in.
But, if you go to school to learn, nearly every assignment will be engaging and interesting. The challenges will be their own rewards. I encourage you to think hard about what it is you want from life. Knowledge isn’t everything, but neither is money.