‘Tis the season. High school graduates are preparing for the next phase in their lives with bright eyes and high hopes. Big decisions are being made and big changes are happening. It’s an exciting and terrifying time.
Naturally, these big changes bring a lot of questioning (second-guessing and anxiety always pair themselves well with big choices). Of course, no-one wants to make the wrong decision. And I’ve been receiving a lot of e-mails from yungins looking for advice.
It’s the quintessential battle: Continuing Education versus The Unknown Wonders of Life. Is college really worth it? Do I wish I would have started traveling sooner knowing how my degree sitch worked out?
I suddenly have a say in validating their wanderlust and molding their futures. You know, no pressure.
So in an effort to do my part to help these recent graduates, I’m breaking down my answers to the most asked questions. And after almost two years of trying to avoid the daily grind, here’s what I have to say…
To college or not to college? That is the question…
Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous loan fees, or to take arms against a sea of uncertainty and by traveling end it…
Sorry. I had to. But I’m back on track now.
After a lot of thinking, discussing, and questioning. I’ve finally formulated my opinions. Here’s my final answer, Regis…
We are lifetime learners. So give yourself the education to help you in your lifetime.
While college it’s not a perfect system and not the right fit for everyone, it provides a means to learn about yourself in such a condensed amount of time that few others opportunities do. Where else can you explore hundreds of different topics, get involved in thousands of different activities, programs, social groups, seminars, and lectures? I mean, clearly it’s not the only way to learn and explore. But it’s an effective tool- if you use it wisely. So use it.
But don’t you learn through traveling?
Of course. We all learn everyday. But I needed to learn how to analyze situations, myself, and others in order to get the most out of travel. I can tell you right now that if I went to live in a village in Fiji when I was 18, I most likely would have died. 1. I had a flare for the melodrama, and 2. I wouldn’t know how to handle that kind of situation.
College gave me an opportunity to develop coping skills and take those skills and apply it to my travel situations. Everything comes in time, and for me, college worked better coming first. But you can find a way to incorporate travel into your degree or studies. They’re not mutually exclusive. With a little creativity, and a lot of hard work, the possibilities of how you ‘do’ college are endless.
So you’re saying I need to go to college and get a degree.
No. Unless you’re becoming a brain surgeon or an aerospace engineer, your degree really doesn’t matter.
Crazy travel girl just said whattttt?
I’ll say it again. What degree you graduate with doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s probably one of the LEAST important things about your college education. If you are going to graduate and ‘just’ get a degree, don’t even bother. Because that’s not what college is about. That’s not what LIFE’s about.
Let’s face facts: 60% of college graduates won’t go into their studied disciplines. So instead of looking at it as a way to get a job, consider it an opportunity to hone your skills and motivation for life. It just so happens that along the way you can earn scholarship money, get awards, publish papers, meet lifelong friends, and get a degree which in theory will help you get a job (prices and participation may vary).
You are given an opportunity to practice independence, pick your own interests, interact with social groups, and learn to work with people you most likely dislike. You’ll follow projects from beginning to end, doing it all yourself. You’ll learn how to assess situations, how to speak to people, and how to prioritize what really matters and what you need to let go.
Just like anything in life, it’s the actions you take and the amount of time you invest in your education and your ‘life prep course’ that will determine whether or not you get anything out of it.
I now use psychology everyday to assess myself, my environment, and to communicate appropriately with the people around me. I use my words as a way of helping me achieve my goals and share my experiences with friends from all walks of life.
I thought I would end up being some high-profile professor at a college, all hoity toity sipping on expensive lattes. And now I’m living paycheck to paycheck, geting dirty down volcanoes and playing with lions for fun.
Which life is better? Who’s to say?
But I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if I hadn’t gone to college.
So what’s your point?
Keep growing. Keep learning. Try college or trade school. And no matter what you major in, or if you study for a year or a decade, just make sure you commit. Because what you put into your education is what you’ll get out of it.
And who knows? Maybe you’ll find that school is for you and you become some high-powered attorney and that works for you. Or you may end up using your summa cum laude organizational skills to assist Miss Piggy with her wardrobe. Life’s weird like that. You won’t know until you do it.
Tell me your thoughts!
Do you have a different opinion for graduating hopefuls about higher education? Do you think that college degrees are important? Leave me a comment and let’s discuss! =)