Why college isn't necessarily the answer.
I've been incredibly confused as of late.
I'm 19 years old, and for the past year and half (since High School ended), I've been at a serious loss for knowing where I'd like to go with my career, though every day I get closer and close to knowing. I've narrowed it down more and more until I realized something spectacular; I don't need to narrow. I need to be human and embark on every project that is worthy of my time.
I've decided to forget about college. This is mainly because I don't ever want to work for someone else; it's not a necessity. The more that I can eliminate what is not a necessity, the more freedom I have, which ultimately is what I really want for myself right now.
At the onset of my indecisive journey (end of high school), I looked everywhere for some guidance. I really never got much from my peers, schooling, nor my parents, who are all awesome in their own ways. I just didn't find anything they had to say to be helpful, because as much as I didn't know what was best for me, neither did the rest of the world. I assume this applies for everybody.
To cope with this, I decided to branch out. Google basically became my personal tutor for everything that I wanted to know, and eventually my mind began to expand. College, I learned, wasn't the end all answer for my life, and as a matter of fact, it didn't have to a part of the equation at all if I didn't want it to be. I moved out of my parent's house to live on my own for a while to clear my head and figure things out. And once I did this, the big picture began to unfold. The world was so damn big. Although one may expect to be daunted by it's overwhelming vastness and complexity, in reality, I was liberated. It meant there were opportunities everywhere.
On every street corner, in the very air we breathed, the world is host to unlimited potential for growth and development. College, I learned, wasn't necessary. In fact, if you look at the grand scheme of things, college for the masses is actually a relatively new thing. Throughout history, where pretty much every one who was anybody lived most of their lives, great people did great things without the aid of university. In fact, I'd argue that, historically speaking, most great people rose to greatness because of not having college.
Now I'm not saying college is bad, but I must argue that if a person has just a little spark of ambition or drive to learn about the world, then they can learn much more by sitting in an empty room with a computer that has internet than they will in a college classroom. As far as the social learning implications that college boasts, I'd also like to argue that working any type of counter/ retail/ bartending/ coffee shop job will give you twenty times the social skills that college will give you. I know this, because of experience.
For the past year I've been working at the Starbucks on the University of Michigan campus. During my time off I'd spend it contemplating what I should be doing with my life instead, failing to see the opportunities that were being shoved right under my nose. First of all, I was lucky as shit to get a job at Starbucks. Not only is it one of the most fun atmospheres you can work at (especially on a corporate non-independent business scale), but I was networking and building extremely close and positive relationships with University professors and students; more valuable and more quantifiable, I'd argue, than the students themselves. If people say that you go to College for networking, I'd argue I did a better job at that because I worked in a busy city, at busy times, in a busy store. It was great. I still talk to the professors that I served coffee to daily over Facebook, and I have 6 letters of recommendation from them! Though I don't need them, it just goes to show.
Anyway, besides the networking opportunities I've had, when I had free time, I had just that: free time. I didn't have homework to consume my brain and something to worry about tomorrow, I just had the free time. During this free time I did what I was naturally inclined to do; research things I cared about, contemplate my life, and consider my future. During these times of reflection that I had I was truly able to hone my understanding of my place in the world. This occurred because I freed myself from distractions, obligations, and responsibilities that otherwise would have completely occupied my time and kept me from finding out the truth about myself.
This experience I am thankful for, as it's opened my eyes to the reality of the world and its openness. As I would be steaming the milk at the espresso bar for the lattes, smiling and laughing with my fellow baristas about something stupid, students would be stressing out around me about finals. They were forcing themselves to do something that they didn't want to do because they've been programmed to do it, and if you know anything about biology and health, you'd know that stress is basically the number one cause of death in America. I want to take this a step further, as I believe the reason that everyone is unhappy, stressed and dies is because we're programmed to do unnatural things. This goes for the things we eat (grains >:[)), the time schedules that society forces us into (6:30 am even during winter? Come on.), and other habits we form that we know deep down are bad for us, but we refuse to confront them because the effects of societal influence are too strong.
So what am I trying to say, that college is bad? Maybe. But what I believe is the most important message to understand is that we create our own opportunities, our own lives, and we are the only people that can make them better. We have to take responsibilities for our futures by making our futures the present; by working on what we are passionate for now, and not doing some arbitrary training for the future. That's all just silly nonsense. Training comes by experience. By falling down and scraping your knees, and all college does is provide a false ground to learn and grow from; a bubble, if you will, that will leave you still unprepared for what lies outside in the real world. Sure, you'll come out of college with a degree that may open doors. But if you'd rather save the money and the time, not going will not hurt you, if what you do doesn't require it. As I'm going to focus on creating my own income (and because I hate working for people), I don't need it, and I'm going to spend my remaining three years that I "should have spent going to college" building a personal empire that I will be much more proud of than some project that someone else will take credit for.
So you decide. Take responsibility for yourself, and don't expect college to be a golden ticket. Weigh out the pros and cons smartly, and if you haven't got anything better to do, go for it.