I’ve never understood higher education. My high school teachers always told me I should go to college and get a degree. A degree? I wanted a life and a job that I enjoyed. I wanted to either be a mechanic or work in radio but was told to go to college, not for a reason or to further my aspirations or really any reason. It was like I was being told to “go west, young man” even thought they had no idea what I would do when I arrived “out west” nor did they care that I was happy were I was.
Education is a great thing; it’s always good to learn more about the world. The problem is that each credit is so expensive that formal education should have a goal-like a job to pay back the loan for those expensive credits. I think the days of wandering through paths bordered in ivy-covered fence and being a “student of the world” (that made my gag reflex activate) are gone. Days of being a professional student died somewhere in the early part of the last decade and education must be a tool for success, not just a vague journey that ends in some sort of state-certified and transferable “enlightenment.”
I always hear people use the phrase, “work smarter, not harder.” Well here’s the deal, you have to do both. Also there is no shame in working harder, it’s how the happy places in this world were built. There is some sort of mythical place were students are told they will arrive at post, post-secondary where they will always find a “living-wage” and never have to work harder. This is a falsehood. If you question this last sentence, please go talk to the person who earned a degree and now works on their feet somewhere they earn barely enough to cover their student loan and cares not for the fact they are a student of the world.
I believe tech schools are the best place for many students. I wish I’d gone straight to one myself after high school. In a recent article in Parade magazine, a reported 450,000 openings exists for skilled labor. Plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, cooks, mechanics, etc-jobs unfilled, at least in part, due to students who have skills more related to educational rather than vocational goals. I realize we live in a world that involves a lot of technology, however all of that technology lives within a world built by skills which have existed since the Romans. We still need skilled labor as it cannot be outsourced plus there is such a vacuum of it now-more nationally than locally but still very needed.
If you are in college right now congratulations, if you are there with a specific job in mind then CONGRATULATIONS! If your major is “unspecified” then I would cast aside every other consideration and decide what you’re good at or fires your passion and pursue it with intensity and focus. A college degree is a fantastic achievement. However, I would say that being in your mid to late twenties and being able to support yourself without constant, advanced life support from your parents is an even better one.