College: Look Before You Leap!
Many of us who grew up in the United States have been told that going to college nearly guarantees them a better opportunity in life. My generation and countless other generations have been indoctrinated with this belief. I have been told this numerous times, especially being a child of the eighties. In due time, I became one of those people who went to college and obtained a degree. It took me a few years to find that "high paying job" that people who graduated are looking for, but somewhere along the line I came to the realization that going to college was something that I regret to a degree. Going to college has been somewhat of a waste of time for me, not to mention a waste of a lot of money that I could have spent on alternative ways of educating myself.
The one thing that I did learn in college is that, well, to be frankly honest, it is a waste of money in some aspects! I had a class at Texas Wesleyan University sometime in 1997 and several students were talking about how colleges offer students the chance to get credit cards. Some of the students agreed that you will put yourself further into debt with not only the credit cards, but the classes that you are already taking and any subsequent classes you will take will put you further into the financial quicksand of debt. Working may help some students with money issues such as day-to-day living but this is only a temporary patch-up to other time balances such as going to class, studying, doing group projects which may take several hours of your time and so on.
The good aspect about going to college is that you will get knowledge of the field you intend to pursue if you choose to follow that particular job path. If you become dissatisfied with that job path, you can change your major. The bad side to this is that you will put yourself into even more debt because you will have to pay back the money for the classes that have now become obsolete in exchange for your alternate career path.
The time balance can be an unforeseen occurrence for some students. In my college days I had to work in the evenings and I also had biology labs that I had to attend on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I lived in a different city than which I worked and went to school. I did not have to pay for a dormitory, but I did have to travel back and forth from one city to another over and over again. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe that I did some of my homework at my job during my downtime at one point! Having a social life that most college students are known for having became a thing of the past during that time. Working and going to school with a full class load can take its toll on an individual. There were some days that I forgot which classes I had and a few times I would arrive to class late. Final time was the worst of all. I remember that I had to come back to the university after work. I had a computer class and I was part of a group working on an assignment that went into the early hours of the morning. I literally slept in my truck because I had a class at 8:30 a.m. the next day. This occurred in December. I also remember getting about three hours worth of sleep and then going to work that day afterwards as well!
For some majors college is a must. I majored in Information Systems. After graduating from college, it took me about three years to get a job in the field of Information Systems. What I discovered on my first Information Systems related job (and others to follow) is that there are a lot of things you must learn and they are not taught in school. There are other areas of Information Technology that must be obtained on your job and by purchasing books from a bookstore or Amazon. The learning process in this field starts over because technology is always advancing and changing at incredible rates. I would have done well just to take one aspect of Information Technology and then read a few books to learn the basics of Structured Query Language (also known as SQL or "sequel"). I could have saved thousands upon thousands of dollars. I would have had more free time to study and more time dedicated to my job at the time as well.
My advice to anyone who wants to go to college is to first do research on what you want to become. Please do not fall prey to the accepted paradigm of going to college to get a great job. Something I will always remember is that A math professor at one university told our class that the math class we are taking is in no way necessary to your major (it was a business math class). He went on to say that "the university just wants you to spend your money on this class and that is it". I will always remember this, especially if I decide to go back to college for anything. It will definitely serve as a warning to me.
Written by: CD