Is a college degree really worth it? I hear this question daily from countless sources, such as the media, which has a nasty habit of using the almighty Mark Zuckerberg as the poster child for why you shouldn't go to college. While people do have a right to question the value of a college degree, and people without college degrees can be incredibly successful, I feel it is time that the college degree finally has someone fighting in its defense.
Yes, a college degree is worth it, at least for me it was worth it. No, I'm not working at my dream job, yet, nor am I raking in tons of cash like I had imagined I would be. Yes, the economy is limping along, and jobs are scarce, but I still won't ever regret getting my political science degree. Yes, you read correctly - I couldn't be more proud of my liberal arts college degree.
Critics of the college degree claim that the college degree is losing its value. To them, its value is being buried under the weight of the country's massive amount of student debt and by the conclusion that those who hold these degrees didn't really learn anything in school, except for how to throw a really great party. It used to be that going to college was a smart decision and foregoing college was not.
My Cup Cake Day
For our generation, these roles have seemingly switched reputations. Something that used to be seen as a practical decision in life is now being seen as impractical and costly. Now, the people who choose to go to college are sometimes seen as the irresponsible risk takers. While this accusation may be partly true for some, it certainly wasn't the case for myself.
I left college debt free and with copious amounts of knowledge that I didn't have before. Most importantly, I left with a viewpoint on life, which I hope I never lose. The best way to explain this viewpoint is to contrast what I feel the differences are between those who attended college and those that didn't. I would describe people that attend college as optimists, while those that don't as realists.
People that attend college hope for something better and are willing to go to great lengths to achieve that something. College students are willing to go through sleep deprivation, incredible stress, eating cheap food, and not having a lot of money for years on end, believing that it will all be worth it in the end. The average person who never went to college would never be willing to go through what I went through as a student.
And I certainly wouldn't have put myself through something like that if I didn't truly and wholeheartedly believe in its value. You can call it delusional, or you can call it hopeful. Either way, it takes a mentally steadfast individual to actually make it through college.
Right about now, I can almost hear the realists chiming in saying that a college degree will never be worth it in the end and that all we will end up with will be a “really expensive piece of paper.” Well realists, I have achieved that “piece of paper,” and I still have the belief that it will still be worth it in other aspects of my life. Oh, and seeing it hanging on my condo wall is a serious ego boost, as well. What if the worth of a college degree has changed from being monetarily worthy to something else? What if its worth comes from within?
Being realistic is generally looked at as a good thing, but the trouble with being realistic is that it can sometimes cross the line into being pessimistic. Realism can also lead to settling for less than what you think you can achieve. Dreams are made into reality by that very attitude that allowed me to work towards my college degree.
All of the entrepreneurs and celebrities that realists idolize, and believe they can become by not going to college, didn't achieve their greatness by not taking chances because it could cost them. If the founder of a Fortune 500 company had been scared to take out a startup loan for his burgeoning company, then the company in question may never have even existed. Being deterred by something because it could cost you, and settling for something else, doesn't mean you are a realist. It means you are shortsighted.
College graduate or not, you won't get anywhere by not taking chances and by not dreaming big. It is yet to be seen whether or not my college degree will land me the career I want. But thanks to my college degree, I have the confidence to try and achieve that very career I long for. And that kind of confidence is absolutely priceless.