Art by Brooke Muschott
While sitting in your umpteenth GE lecture, wondering what in the world the geography of ancient Egypt has to do with your life or the real world, you might find yourself asking if paying thousands of dollars every year for a university education is actually worth it. After all, we are the Internet generation; all of the information accumulated by humanity is accessible at our fingertips. In theory, everything you’re learning in college, you could teach yourself from a book borrowed from a library or — to be more accurate — a quick Google search or two.
During these moments of self-doubt, stress and maybe even regret, it can be difficult to keep your mind from wandering to the success stories of the rich and famous who had little to no college education.
You may be wondering why you aren’t saving tons of money by taking the online college route, or by not going to college at all. If everything you need to know is in the palm of your hand (which it is if you have an iPhone), then aren’t college institutions impractical? So why do we bother? Why do we spend so many of our years and dollars on the seemingly redundant and unnecessary?
For most of us, college was something we always planned to do. It was never a question of whether or not we’d go to college, but rather where we would apply, get accepted and ultimately choose to attend. After some careful consideration, we came up with a list of reasons why we think attending college is not only necessary, but worth it.
1) It’s difficult to get anywhere these days without a college degree. Occasionally, a naturally brilliant and innovative person such as Mark Zuckerberg, for instance, who has a good business sense and a lot of luck will spring forth and become a billionaire before graduating college but, unfortunately, most of us have to take the long and weary path to success.
2) College gives teenagers the time to mature and develop mentally and emotionally. Think back to who you were at your high school graduation. Were you really ready to take on the world? Move out of your parents’ house, work full time or even start a family? Our culture has developed over time from a culture of self-made workers to one where some sort of higher education after high school is a standard.
3) The relationships and connections developed in college are, for many people, priceless. This is the time to meet the people who will help us figure out who we are and where we belong. Opportunities don’t just pop out of thin air — they often revolve around being with the right people in the right place at the right time. College is a hub of possible connections, from our professors to various internship opportunities.
4) Let’s be real — you can’t get an entire college education from Youtube videos. Chances are you wouldn’t spend your free time on the Internet teaching yourself statistics, biochemistry or law. Most people just don’t have the kind of discipline or true passion to dedicate themselves to a difficult subject without a push. Further, our professors are skilled at presenting that material in an informative manner. The structure and guidance of college is exactly what most awkward teenagers need before they mature into adults.
The purpose of going to college is to get an education, to get a good job, to earn money and to live a happy, successful life. The experiences you get from college or university vastly outweigh the hassle it takes to earn your diploma. Unless you have a Mark Zuckerberg-type idea, you need a degree and good connections to really get somewhere. While a high school diploma was more than enough for previous generations to get ahead and establish themselves in the world, and a college education was unnecessary, we can’t apply their world to ours — everything is different. The jobs we are competing for require more advanced skills, and higher education is no longer a privilege to be pursued by the elite, but an opportunity to be taken advantage of by us all.
College gives us the time to figure out what we want to do with our lives and what our passions are. It gives us a moment to make terrible mistakes and wonderful choices. It gives us the chance to step through new doors, slam old ones shut and build the foundations for life.
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