I remember growing up and enjoying getting on my parents’ nerves as much as possible. I really was that devil that every parent wished they weren’t unlucky enough to get stuck with. By the time I was a sophomore in high school I was poking my mom and dad with the idea of not going to college. My parents are immigrants and have always stressed the importance of a good education.
Their belief always was that getting a good education would help secure a prosperous future — and I have to admit now, that they were right. Getting an education, learning, is the most important part of life. The high level of learning that we are capable of is what differentiates us from the rest of the animals. If we do not learn, we do not live — or at least that is my take on things.
Many people share in this belief and this is the reason why some schools are able to charge an arm and a leg for tuition. Colleges, for example, are so expensive in America right now that many are beginning to reconsider whether or not getting a degree is the best move.
Personally, I took college lightly. I did graduate, but it took me nearly 7 years. Nevertheless, looking back at it now I do not regret going for one second. Giving it due credit, college played a huge part in making me who I am today. My first history class freshman year, studying the bible, made me rethink my religious beliefs.
One of my first philosophy classes made me fall in love with the process of logical reasoning and made me question things that I have never questioned before. If it weren’t for my English classes I wouldn’t be writing for Elite Daily and wouldn’t be supplying you all with — at the very least — a way to kill some time.
Growing up I was a poor writer and preferred to keep my mind working mathematical equations. College, in my case, helped introduce me to myself. And luckily enough, it didn’t put as big of a dent in my wallet as it could have.
But most people end up dishing out much more than I did. My college experience was most definitely worth every penny — but there weren’t that many pennies. Some college educations can cost upwards of $100k. When this is the case, deciding whether or not college is the right choice for you has a huge effect on your future. And not always a positive one.
It’s one thing to invest in your personal growth, but it’s another to have it cost you over a decade of monthly payments and a shitty credit score. I have been hearing the same thing over and over from the most successful people I know: school provides basic knowledge of subjects, but what really matters in the “real world” is practical knowledge, knowledge that you can use to help you make yourself prosperous. For many people, this is something that the college experience greatly lacks.
It’s true, going to college mainly consists of learning about a subject and has very little emphasis on more practical skills like negotiating or figuring out which people or business situations ought to be avoided entirely. These sorts of skills most people only become familiar with after several years of working within a field.
This is the main reason why I chose to major in English and Philosophy — not because I did not enjoy any of the other available majors, I enjoy learning about just about anything. But rather because these two topics, which seemingly are the most detached from what people think to be the reality of things, cultivate skills that are more practical and useful than most of the knowledge other fields will leave us with.
It’s great to learn facts and theories, but most people don’t need to learn a list of facts — life is not a game of Jeopardy. Learning to think is what most people ought to spend more time on. Life teaches us, no matter whether or not we go to school, or which school we attend. There are of course ways of expediting this learning process and making sure that we learn as much as possible in as short of a time as possible.
College may very well be the best way for you, but before you decide that college is the next best step you have to weigh all the pros and cons and make sure that you will come out the other end with a positive surplus. It all depends on your precise situation.
How much will college cost you? How much money will you have to spend and how much time will you have to invest? What will you most likely be left with as a result of all of your effort? Is the outcome worth the price? It may be. But it may also not be.
It’s a difficult decision to make because it relies heavily on our knowledge of ourselves and on how well we know what it is exactly that we want out of life. The more confused you are, the less informed of a decision you will be able to make concerning your future. If this is the case, then the next best step is doing that which will help you learn more about yourself most efficiently.
Maybe college will help you open up to yourself like it did for me. But maybe taking some time off and working will help you get to know you better? Maybe you want to do both simultaneously? Yes, it’s tough, but I did it — no reason why you can’t. Being successful requires a deep knowledge of yourself, your strengths and your flaws, and the knowledge of what you want your life to be.
This is more important than anything else for the simple reason that without this knowledge, whatever effort you put in will most likely be effort wasted in the wrong direction. With college degrees worth less and less these days, the person on top is the person who knows what he wants, is inspired by this urge and has the work ethic to keep on pushing and trudging along in the right direction.
Only go to college if you feel it is something that you must do. Don’t do it because your parents tell you to. Don’t do it because it’s what the status quo believes is the right thing to do. Too many people have followed the masses and found themselves miserable, more confused than before and now swimming in a sea of debt.
Get to know yourself and the way the world works first and foremost. Everything after that may remain hard to conquer, but at least you will be conquering things worth conquering.
Paul Hudson | Elite.
For more from Paul, follow him on Twitter @MrPaulHudson