Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Just some thoughts I've been pondering lately. I've come to the conclusion that college is less of a bank and more of a commitment to jump off a rock. Yes that will make sense later.
I can remember several times that various instructors, speakers and advisors told me during high school the reason I should go to college. "Go to college," they said, "that way you won't have to work so hard when you're older!" They would then lay out the math behind the reasoning--that college graduates make more money than those with just high school degrees, that the money made by simply getting a job doesnt measure up when compared to those future earnings, that all the best jobs required a college degree to get. All seemed like pretty good reasons, especially since I was planning on going anyway. It was like making deposits in a bank: I would just withdraw it at the end and not have to worry so much.
Of course, they didn't mention that most jobs also require job experience, and place more importance on that than on the degree. Or that it is possible--likely, even--that you change your mind and not work in the same field as your degree anyway. Or that sometimes there are such a lot of unremarkable college graduates applying for jobs in your field that you end up unemployed or interning for free instead of earning those higher salaries.
The biggest misconception, though, was the concept of not having to work hard after the bachelors degree is done. If you are still an undergrad and reading this, yes, people still do actually have to work hard after college. In fact, I would say that after college you have to work even harder, whether that means you are trying to kickstart your writing career, attending the grueling hours of medical school or putting in 60 to 80 hour weeks in a research lab somewhere. The Fallout videogame series has a saying: "War, war never changes." There is a similar one that people should probably adopt when considering higher education. "Work, work never changes." It's going to be hard, it's going to be unpleasant, and there is no place on this planet you can hide from it. That includes mom's basement. :)
So rather than going to college and getting a degree with the hope of hiding away in a comfortable, work-free niche afterwards, please go to find the career you are passionate about. Find that thing that makes your life satisfying, where the work, while hard, is fulfilling. Then commit to working your brains out to make that career happen. Because if you are going to be suffering through all that work, you may as well commmit to something you care about. Otherwise, life will be terribly unpleasant. Kind of like someone who has jumped off a rock and hesitates partway through, it's not going to end well. You will probably end up with lots of bumps, bruises, and disappointment.
So whatever you decide in terms of education--and I think this will apply to graduate school as much as undergrad stuff--commit or you'll always regret it. And if at the end of your jump you find something you don't like, pick yourself up get back up the rock and try again. At least, that's my take on things. For what it's worth. See you around!