I’ve seen the argument come up too many times to count about whether going to college is necessary or worth the time, effort, and money. So far I’ve come to the conclusion that neither side is right. Both sides have valid advantages and disadvantages but what I have seen each side fail to recognize is that the decision is too dependent on each unique person.
Everyone has their own story and set of skills. When it comes to college, one size definitely does not fit all. The college experience may help you by putting you in a structured learning environment and forcing you to interact with others, network and attempt at creating well rounded individuals. For others it can feel constricting, boring, un-motivating and just in the way.
I fell into the latter category.
School never particularly motivated me. I always felt like it was full of bureaucratic nonsense that was in the way of what I really wanted to do. Even if it was a class that was more inline with my interests, like a programming or math class, I still was never very motivated. Over the years I’ve learned that only I can motivate myself and I do so by pursuing things that interest me. We live in an age of such open and easily accessible information that basically any topic you want to learn about is just a search away. I’ve been able to learn about such things as algorithmic trading, sentiment analysis, facial recognition, and many other things. I don’t think I would have had the time nor freedom to pursue so many various topics if I were in school.
On a personal fulfillment level, the choice not to continue higher education has been a good one, but what about career wise? I think it’s been ok. I haven’t had any real trouble finding work and I currently have the best job I’ve ever had. I’m not sure if a degree would change that though. Employers still would rather see what you have done and what challenges you have faced and how you overcame them. Being a programmer it’s quite easy to create challenges for yourself with side projects. I don’t think a degree would have helped me land any jobs unless I wanted to work for some big name company and even then I probably wouldn’t enjoy working at a place that valued formal education so much.
One thing I haven’t gotten used to is the “So, where did you go to school?” question. I still find it pretty awkward and I don’t know what to say other than “I didn’t”.
All in all, I think pursuing a formal degree should be decided on a case by case basis. I don’t think enough kids going to school are thinking about the future like they should be. What do you want to do? How do you plan on getting there? What if you dont like it? Is there anything I can do to speed my progress towards my goals? What are the various routes I can take to achieve my goals?
These are all questions kids should be asking themselves so they can make an informed decision on what is best for their future.