The other day, my dad handed me a printout of an article from a conservative website about going to college. Dad does this from time to time, I think because he suspects I'm a filthy liberal, and wants to send a few shots across the bow to see if I fire back. I usually don't, because I've been through enough warfare to have a better idea of when to pick my battles.
Well, I won't reference the article directly, but the gist of it was that college is a bit of a costly venture that doesn't always yield the results it promises for the price of admission, and may actually do more harm than good. (High schoolers, meditate on that for a minute, please)
Now, the article itself sort of descended into a screed about how colleges just crank out liberals anyway, and liberals tend to vote Democrat, and we should just bust the whole thing up because dear God, we need conservative voters or they'll have a WOMAN in the White House next...
...Which is unfortunate, because "liberal conspiracy" aside, I felt the article had some good points. Unless you live somewhere where there ain't no TeeVee, it's pretty well drilled into your head that college follows high school sure as the night follows the day, college equals good paying job, and "no college" equals dumbshit failure. Does that sound about right? You're not going to college? Hell, even Simple Timmy from two doors down went to TECH SCHOOL, you are GOING to go to college, little lady!
But that's the thing. There's a lot of emphasis put on going to college, and we've been brought up to believe that it's the next step after high school. Or even if it's not as automatic as all that, it's still what you ought to do, right? You want a good job, right?
Hold on...since we're told by everyone under the sun that these are "tough economic times", we ought to be a little more inquisitive about what we're spending money on, right? So...it seems rather weird that college, with its often six-figure price tag, is something of a necessity in these times of woe and want. It almost seems as if college is a business, and not an institution of higher learning.
Look, I'm not here to get into a tit-for-tat about courses and schools and job placement or whatever. If you want to be a doctor? Go to college. A lawyer? An engineer? A superstar quarterback? GO TO COLLEGE. College is not evil! But if you don't know what you want, DON'T GO TO COLLEGE. If you have a vague idea but really just want to party away from your parents for a few years, DON'T GO TO COLLEGE. They don't say this enough in high school. College is for LEARNING. You can party on your own time for FAR LESS MONEY. If you don't have an explicit reason to go to college, there's no clock ticking for you right out of school. Experience life, experience jobs, experience paying debts before you decide to throw a ton of money at a system that insists you need it for its own interests.
Higher learning is a good thing. But we've gone and gotten ourselves into thinking it's the only thing. This is especially my advice to any young artists who might be reading this. For me, art college was not a mistake. But it was costly--very costly--and if I can do any good in this world, then part of it surely must be saving someone from a college price tag before they knew what such a thing meant
This is actually a discussion VERY worth having. If there are any college graduates out there reading this, or high schoolers on the cusp of making a decision, I'd love to hear from you. Is college worth it? When is it worth it? What about student debt? Tuition? I'd be interested in hearing some thoughts.