Yesterday I saw this video on a friend’s Facebook wall and re-posted it on my own (Thanks, Melissa! Not sure she wants linked to in this soapbox of a blog post, but I’ll risk it).
I prefaced the video with these words. “College is over-rated.”
And some people had some thoughts.
I have some too. And I shared a few. But not all, because I’m working on an e-book about unschooling (I know. What am I thinking?), and the whole, “Is college necessary?” question will most certainly be addressed. And I should probably save some of the juicy stuff for the book, eh?
I will say this. I don’t think college is for everyone. Some people, of course (no one’s going to let you be a doctor or a teacher or a lawyer or an engineer without a degree). But I think we’ve been led to believe by our culture that anybody who wants to be somebody has to go. That if you want to make something of yourself, be successful, live up to your potential, you need a college degree. No ifs, ands, or buts.
I disagree. I think we’ve been duped.
One friend said in response to my assertion that college is over-rated, “Everyone I know who is actually making enough to pay their bills and put away a little for retirement works at a job requiring a four-year degree. Most have at least a Master’s.”
I, on the other hand, know a boatload of people who are busy being AWESOME without a college degree.
And I would love to hear from some of you.
But first, some fun, somewhat cheeky, quotes from a book I just read (Better than College: How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree by Blake Boles). (All of these are affiliate links by the way.)
“Where you go to college, or even if you go at all, only makes a difference if you believe the spell that has been put on you. Is it money you want? In an hour from where I live I could take you to a common hot dog vendor who makes more of that than the mayor of New York and the President of the United States combined. ; is it becoming of real use to society?–become a pet sitter so that people can take vacations without abusing their critters… That’s not to say that education doesn’t matter. It does. You need finely tuned critical judgment to defend yourself in the dangerous house of mirrors America has become. It’s just that college won’t give you an education. Only you can do that.”
(John Taylor Gotto, Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling, 160-161.)
“Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus…”
(Peter Thiel, in an interview on techcrunch.com)
“So, how do you sidestep all that competition, the miles upon miles of jobseekers standing in employment breadlines in the same suit with the same college diploma, begging for the same job, holding in their outstretched arms–with an expectant, hopeful, yet also panicked look–their identical-seeming resumes with identical standardized credentials?
It’s very simple. Instead of jumping through the same hoops everyone else is suiting up from a young age to jump through… you need to develop a strong–violently strong–distaste for jumping through hoops.”
(Michael Ellsberg, “Life Lessons from a Fire-Breathing, Still-Walking Billionaire,” Forbes.com)
An alternative to college: “Here’s a basic assignment. Take $10,000 and get yourself to India. Check out a world completely different from our own. Do it for a year. You will meet other foreigners traveling. You will learn what poverty is. You will learn the value of how to stretch a dollar. You will often be in situations where you need to learn how to survive despite the odds being against you. If you’re going to throw up you might as well do it from dysentery than from drinking too much at a frat party. You will learn a little bit more about eastern religions compared with the western religions you grew up with. You will learn you aren’t the center of the universe. Knock yourself out.”
(James Altucher, “8 Alternatives to College,” jamesaltucher.com)
My Big Feelings in a Small Nutshell:
1. The world is changing. The job market isn’t what it used to be.
2. College is expensive. And getting crazy more so every year. Not sure it’s worth the $.
3. With a little creativity and self-awareness, you just might be able to make a living doing something you love without a college degree.
4. If you (or your kiddo) go to college, awesome. I’m not bashing it. I’m questioning our unabashed obsession with it without exploring alternatives.
5. I’m excited to hear your stories.
If you’re making a life without a college degree, I’d love for you to bravely leave a comment telling us briefly what you do and why.
If you have a college degree, but you’re doing something entirely different with your life, I’d love to hear about it.
And, to be fair, if you went to college, are using your degree, and you believe it was worth every penny, I’d love to hear from you too.