Did Kanye Have the Right Idea: College, Does it Really Matter?

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People seem to think spending four or more years after high school paying for more education makes your stock go up as a human being. Today we’re told from very early on to study hard because we need to go to college in order to get a better job and have a better life. I just want to say that I was an honor roll student my entire life, went to college and take in less a month than my younger brother who scored a GED at 22. That’s not to say college isn’t important. Doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, teachers – those people need college. A blogger? Not so much. I learned the basics of the English language by fifth grade. We’ll get to that later, but what really makes college worth it? The answer to that, the honest truth…knowing what the hell you want to do and taking full advantage of every opportunity while enrolled. Since we’re talking the truth, I did not do that. Not even going to pretend I did.

There are a million and one guides to college but we’ll focus in on one. Laurence Shatkin’s Panicked Student’s Guide to Choosing a College Major states about picking a major, “…gathering information from primary sources is an important part of the decision-making process.” Again, there are a million and one guides, but how many of us took the time to crack open even one before deciding on a major? I literally picked mine because you had to have one declared by your junior year and I already had enough credits for Humanities. Being lazy about your major will definitely result in making nothing come of it. Shatkin also notes, “Self-exploration is a critical step in making realistic academic and career decisions.” Research and finding yourself are two important facts that I think 75% (total guess) of us fail to do. The other 25% are the doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers and teachers – the people who actually need education because let’s face it, I care more about my doctor having a degree than the lady who does customer service for Target.

With all that in mind, we’ll get back to the question at hand – does college really matter and does it prepare you for the real world? Again, it all depends on whether or not you did it the right way. Now, the right way does not mean graduating with a 4.0. Internet star and geek extraordinaire, Felicia Day was like a child prodigy who not only mastered a musical craft in college but also studied some super hard math that would make my head explode. She graduated with a perfect average and noted in her autobiography, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir, “…my GPA did…Nothing.” She worked hard all those years and in the end didn’t want to have a career in either field she studied. Had she just realized sooner than later that acting and web series were her forte – she would’ve saved a lot of time. That’s the thing though, we’re still so young when we get to college that what we feel passionate for then may end up being what we don’t give two shits about as soon as we have the diploma in hand. That’s when some are stuck. Again, we’ll get to that later.

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So studying and working extremely hard, that’s not really going to impress anyone unless you manage to get on Jeopardy one day and win a million games *cough* I love you Ken Jennings *cough.* What college should really stress is getting real world experience in the fields we’re interested in. All majors should require an internship or three to graduate, or maybe even one internship a year. Forcing us into something other than a classroom – that would make those of us lost in college better understand what we want to do. Hey colleges, you’re taking a shit ton of money and doing very little to provide assistance in “real world” training. The facilities may be there, but how often to schools actually reach out a helping hand unless sought out? It’s like they want us to fail. Hmm, maybe they’re in cahoots with Sallie Mae like, “If they don’t find jobs after graduation then they can’t pay those loans and those interest rates just keep on rising.”

Conspiracy theories aside, college works for those who make it work. It does not for those who just go through it like it was the continuation of high school. Unfortunately that’s the reality of it for most though. We go because we’re told it’s good for us and we often think a BA is enough to get us to higher paid jobs. Only rarely does the fine print say that we also must have internships, work experience, and a valid driver’s license. Okay, so maybe that last one is just in LA and something that annoys me personally.

Kanye West was right to drop out because for him, a degree wasn’t needed to go on to win Grammys, wage wars with pop stars and spawn with a reality TV giant. If I ever have a child, I will not force higher education on them unless that’s what they want because really, if they don’t want to be something that needs it – they’ll save so much money and time going the community college route and working hard at internships.

The Highs and Lows of College

  1. The Census Bureau reported that between 2008 and 2013, the attendance rate for college dropped from 69% to 66%. Are people realizing it’s too much money?
  2. When it comes to getting paid with a BA, the top majors with that degree are math and engineering based according to PayScale.
  3. According to this site’s survey 60% of you said your major definitely prepared you for college, but 60% also said if they could go back – they’d major in something different. While 20% said they would actually skip college altogether if given a second chance.
  4. There were two highs when it came to people and their majors. 40% said their major prepared them for what they do now, and another 40% said it gave them skills they use elsewhere.
  5. While a lot of you said there was no low to your major, 40% said the biggest low is that your major’s proven useless.

Over the course of this week we’ll talk to someone who used college the right way, explore how I didn’t, talk about the importance of Van Wilder and then well, you know what’s coming at the end of the week.

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2 comments

  1. This post is slightly uncomfortable for me, since I want kids to go to college. I want them to life-long learners. I’ve heard that college graduates make about one million more dollars over the course of their lifetime vs. non-college degree persons.

    But in the same breath, I know that college is not for everyone.

    My question is this: if college was free, would you partake and why? Certain jobs, just to get an interview – you need the correct degree. Others are more liberal on their selection process.

    I think life goals help draw out answers. How do you get want you want? whether that be a job in a city or a rural area (majoring in art, even biology, in a town of 5000, it’s going to be hard to find a job.), live near or far from family, keeping your SO relationship strong, etc…there are so many factors. At 18, when people are suppose to go to college, but HS doesn’t bring out all your hidden interests. I know people in their 30s who are not sure on what to do for their professional life.

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    1. You pose a great question…Would I feel different if it were free? I think if it was cheaper or free – then yes. It’s just a waste to spend that much money for a BA that will get you nowhere, and on top of that you’re paying a loan back for something that isn’t serving you anything in life. Check back in Wednesday when I talk more about that idea when I get more personal about the topic. Again, I don’t think college is a total waste, I think it’s how you use it. It’s like anything in life. Thanks for reading, love your thoughts about the topic – I want this blog to start conversations just like this.

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