When you spend four years and a LOT of money on something like college, you have time to think about the good and the bad of it. There were often times I found myself thinking, “Is this worth it?” Especially as I started looking for jobs, and helping LesLeigh look for a job, and our degrees seemed to mean nothing.
I am ultimately very happy that I went to college and I’m planning on going to graduate school and possibly getting my Ph. D. down the road. There are several things though that really do not make since to me about college. I really do think our college system in this country is broken and needs to be fixed, but that is a completely different topic for a different post.
So let’s do this! 6 things about college that never made since to me…
1. “This will prepare you for real life.”
I absolutely hated when professors would say this in class or to me. There are several reasons why this particular fraise really bothered me.
First of all, what life do you think I’m living? Just because I am a student does not mean I don’t operate in the “real” world or have “real” issues or “real” things going on. You are not any more living a “real life” then me just because you are older. You’re age does not devalue my life or my life experiences. Second, having to do school full time, plus work 20 to 25 hours a week, plus balance friendships (and family if you went/go to school close to them like I did), plus a relationship (or helping to plan a wedding in my case), plus being involved in other outside organizations, plus traveling for work (as I did) is a pretty heavy load. Don’t treat me like I sit on my butt all day playing xBox… because I don’t.
I had a professor lecture me several weeks ago about turning in work on time. He proceeded to tell me how it was a good life practice to do things by the deadline. Well thank you Mr. Professor for that life changing wisdom! I’m sorry that the 6 weeks of this class were very crazy for me personally and I didn’t make your class the most important aspect of my life.
Sometimes I had to choose between traveling on the weekend for a speaking engagement to pay bills, or turn in homework a little late. Well, this is real life for me, so I chose the bills over your homework.
2. Wait… am I the customer, or employee?
This one always confused me. With a business, the customer has the power because, well, they’re paying. LesLeigh worked at Starbucks for a season and her and the rest of the staff would always have to oblige to the customer, because the customer is the one paying!
So every year we pay thousands and thousands of dollars for college, yet the college looks at us like employees. There was one professor that told LesLeigh one time, college is a privilege, not a right. Um, I’m sorry, but when she’s the one paying the thousands of dollars for this education, it is her right, because it’s her money she’s giving you.
In college, you are treated like an employee working a job that you are the one paying for. Yeah, that doesn’t make sense.
3. So taking on thousands in this debt will help me?
People, let’s just step back for a second and think about this one. Colleges tell you that you need to come for four years, and pay anywhere from 20-30+ thousand dollars a year, so that you can be better off. Raise your hand if you have $80,000 laying around looking to be spent!
Colleges want you to take on massive amounts of debt so that you can get a degree that doesn’t even promise you a job out of school. Most college graduates don’t finish school and have a job the next day that pays $75,000 a year. If you do, you are the lucky few. Most students have to keep working jobs that require no degree at all, because they don’t have enough “experience” to get a job that their degree is in.
One thing LesLeigh ran into was everyone who wanted to hire an administrative assistant wanted the person to have 2+ years of experience. On almost all of the job posting we looked at they all wanted multiple years of experience, and only required a high school degree. So why exactly did she pay $20,000 a year? Now days you really need a Master’s Degree (more debt! Woohoo!) to get anywhere from a college education.
4. “You should be an adult and get a job.”
Now I agree, students should look to get a job, but there is only so much one can work and their school not suffer. There were semesters where I had classes at 9am, 1pm, and 2:30pm. So my classes would start at 9 in the morning, and I wouldn’t be done until 4 in the afternoon. That means I can get to work around 4:30 or 5 and work a 5 hour day until 10, and when exactly am I supposed to have time for homework?
If you take traditional classes at a college and have classes scattered throughout the day, plus work 25 hours a week, you find out very quickly that you don’t have a lot of time in your day. I know there are parents out there that help their students out by giving them an allowance so they don’t have to work and can focus on school, and this is a tremendous blessing. Now this isn’t to say being a traditional student + working part-time can’t be done, it’s been done a lot, but this is one of the hardest ways to go through college.
5. Never being able to truly relax.
I can’t tell you how many times I would be relaxing by doing something fun with my family, fiancée, or a hobby, and that thought would creep back into my head, “You have some homework that you could be doing.” You are never really able to let you guard down and just relax; I mean relax in a way that is truly refreshing to your spirit.
I know I told this story in the last post, but it is worth repeating to show you want I’m talking about here. I was driving some friends around last Sunday and we were having a great time as they are a close couple friend of LesLeigh and me. I literally had the thought right in the middle of spending time with them, “Ok, what homework do I have to do later tonight….” Now, I didn’t have any homework being that I’m a graduate now, but having that thought was so ingrained in me that I’m now going to have to recondition myself to fully relax and enjoy life outside of school.
6. The rest of your life starts now!
Does anyone else find it odd that when you are just a young buck almost fresh out of high school, college’s want you to pick your major? (aka, you better know what you want to do for the rest of your life because you are about to invest thousands of dollars in it!)
I was one of the few and fortunate people that actually knew what they wanted to do when they were a freshman. Most people at 19 have no idea what they want to do when they are in their 20’s much less their 50’s! There is massive pressure from our culture though to go right into college after you graduate high school and pick a degree.
When LesLeigh and I have children, if they want to take a couple years to figure out what they want to do, I will be totally okay with that. I’d rather you invest $80,000 plus in something you are confident you want to do for the rest of your life.
Like I said at the beginning, I am glad I went to college, but there are some things that truly do not make sense. Colleges in and of itself is a good thing, I would just encourage one to not feel rushed to finish in 4 years, or feel rushed to jump right into the college fires fresh out of high school. College is a huge investment, so be sure you are investing on your terms, at your pace, and in what you want. If you do this, college will be a tremendous time of learning and personal grown that greatly prepare you for your future.