I’m not sure if this is an unpopular opinion because I have seen other articles with a similar tone but here is my perspective about college in the USA in 2019. More or less I do NOT think college is a waste of time. That being said, I think it is being misused and largely wasted. For my generation we were pushed with this idea of needing to go to college to have a career and to be successful. From my experience and observation, many young people don’t get much additional guidance beyond that, especially if you are from an immigrant family or just a 1st generation to college family. They have to figure out navigating funding via FAFSA, scholarships, grants and loans. I’m not really going to talk about student debt in this country but I find that what many people are told is to rush into college and they lack direction or really much understanding of themselves.
Now college would be a great self discovery zone….. If it was free…. Or at least if it was very affordable for even the average person but since most people are going into debt with the idea that it will pay off down the line, it becomes an institution for going through the requirements effectively and strategically.
If we’re being honest, college is not for everyone. There is NOTHING wrong with that. Not having any goals, aspirations or work ethic is a problem. I honestly think that today I meet more people who got any enthusiasm for learning sucked out of them. Which is tragic. Even if students are not good at many book subjects, schools should still be an institution that inspires a lifelong learner. There are many ways to learn things and there really should be more apprenticeships and alternative things for kids.
That is not in place in many schools currently but I still think that students should be encouraged and counselled to self reflect to consider what their goals are, what their options are, and what is within not just their ability but does it match with their personality and how they want to live their lives. This may sound very hippie, idealistic, on cloud but hear me out. If someone had told me this earlier on in life, it would have saved me so much time and grief. I’m not saying kids should always get their dream job and only settle for that. It’s actually kind of the opposite. If you are someone who is more artsy, who didn’t love memorizing information and can’t see yourself working long uncontrollable hours for years and you don’t like dealing with people. I would say maybe it’s not a good fit to try to go to med school, even if you had great grades in the sciences. In this case maybe you have the ability; if you set your mind to it you can excel in school, but you don’t really have the motivation or desire then it is not a good idea. You may just be terrible at it when it comes time to practice or you may opt out during your time as a student.
Eighteen (18) is a very arbitrary age that we equate with adulthood. I think as teens approach that age and then by pass it there is this shift in how society treats and considers them. I think there is a fundamental flaw in that because there is not much put into place that prepares them for navigating in today’s adulthood and then they are pretty much expected to excel. Today there is this more than ever the expectation that childrearing falls on the responsibility of parents. Yes that its true but even within many families you see and shift where there is less of a community and its more like different states meeting to form a country. I’m not saying that parents are not responsible for raising their kids, far from it, but what happens when we’re in a time when parents have to work an all time high number of hours, spending less time with their children or when parents themselves are ill equipped to teach some lessons. For example, a household with poor financial management skills will likely lead to another generation with poor financial management skills. Normal curriculum does not teach this, so individuals are usually left to FIGURE IT OUT.
I’ve heard many people who simply don’t know how to navigate financial aid or know anything about local initiatives to have more people have access to higher education or other classes and so they don’t think that its an option. EVER. So they find no incentive to try hard in high school because who cares about their grades if they aren’t going to college. Others who don’t know certain jobs exist or how they could work towards a job in a particular field so they are just lost. Young adults are mostly lost. Rather than pushing college as a solution to being lost, please consider instead guiding them to at least the path to self discovery so they have some information and are ready to embark on that next step into adulthood. So many people do useless degrees and either have to still find different skills to enter the workforce or return to school. You should always try to learn from life experiences and of course if you have already completed a degree; congratulations that is an accomplishment but from my perspective that route should not be mandated and pushed on people without preparation and thought.