The blog where I rant about things that should be obvious to everyone

As a man with a 4 year degree in computer science, and a mediocre job doing web development I'm not really qualified to comment on politics, religion, or anything else, but I'll be damned if that stops me.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Don't go to college


Whenever your going to make a huge life changing decision such as getting married, buying a house, or deciding where or if to go to college, there are two questions that you should ask first. The first is “What am I trying to accomplish?”, and the second is “What alternatives are there to accomplishing my goals?”.

As a man who has a four year degree, more and more I see going to college as a very bad life choice.

The reasons that I went to school honestly had more to do with the expectation in my family that I would do so than anything else. But if you had asked me at the time, I would have said something about it forming me into a more well rounded person and getting me a better job. Ultimately, I went for a degree in computer science, because the area was something of a mystery to me, so for the whole well rounded person thing, it seemed like a good choice.

So now that I'm five years out of college, lets take a look at how well I met those objectives. Do I have a better job than I would otherwise? Perhaps. I do have a job skill now, and it does open doors for me in the job market that would not be there if I was not a programmer. But is college the only way to open those doors? Absolutely not. In my last job, half the people in my department did not have anything beyond high school education. Sure they had taken a class here and there because they wanted to learn something specific, but in the end they paid around $4,000 on post high school education whereas I paid over $100,000 on mine. And to top it off, if you compare actual earnings, at my last job I made less than my friend of the same age who simply went into retail and has been promoted to manager.

So can you make more money with a college degree? In some limited number of cases yes, but for the most part a degree will not do anything more for you than self education and job experience. In some cases it will do less.

So how about the well rounded part? Again, I would say that objective was met. But not for the reasons that it was supposed to be. My general education courses were a joke. They did not go beyond where my high school education went in some cases. In others, such as my American literature course, they fell laughably short of what I have simply gotten out of just reading for myself. So really, what I got was the same as an AA degree with a bunch a pretence tacked on. To be fair, I did not attend an Ivy League school. But my school certainly would be considered better than most state schools.

The real reason that I would say it made me a more well rounded person, is because of the social aspect. Going from a high school, where I was smarter than almost everyone (including the teachers) to a college were I merely had middle of the road intelligence, was a pretty big shock. In high school I was never challenged by anyone. It was a small christian high school, and most everyone that was as smart as me agreed with me on all my religion and politics. This lead to absurd levels of arrogance for an 18 year old, and a fairly warped world view. I truly thought that anyone who was liberal was not only foolish but very dumb, in terms of IQ. Going to college was a real eye opener in that way.

But again, was going to college the only way I could have achieved this eye opening goal? Of course not. The truth is, it would have happened sooner or later no matter what I did. Probably not as fast, but just as surely.

So in my case, college did met my goals, but I'm pretty sure if I had it to do over again, I could met those some goals just as effectively but with a lot less money spent.

3 comments:

  1. The college education has a dented value over the years with the way that its being perceived in movies and TVs. Also its getting so much easier to attend college these days and every young person you run into has a college degree or is attending one. The value of it is therefore diminished.

    The think the future of the undergraduate college education will be quite nil. Graduate degrees on the other hand seems to be proving stronger each day.

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  2. These are some pretty interesting points, I must admit. Although, I personally have my heart-set on College, and for good reason. An education really is the corner stone of any country, and although the fees and so on have gone up, studying abroad is definitely an option in some cases.

    I'm currently under-going the clearing 2012 process for a University abroad, and I'm pretty hopeful that I get in. My current employer tells me that it would really open some big promotional aspects for me when I come home.

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    1. It's true that there are some careers that you'd have a very hard time getting into without a degree. And it's also true that a degree will open doors for you. It's just not the only thing that will open those doors in most cases. Currently I'm looking for a new job, and because of how I put my resume together, most employers don't even notice that I have an education. My experiance is what gets me in door and lands me interviews. And my job experiance is shared, almost completely, by a man who is younger than me and does not have a degree. This guy could sit in the same interviews and almost always do as well as me if not better. On the other hand, I am almost always asked if I have a degree, and get a positive response when I say yes.

      And remember, an education is not the same as knowledeg, and it is certainly not the same as wisdom. Sending students through the current educational wringer is not a good corner stone for any country. Just look at the unemployment statistics for the recently graduated. Our soceity has little to no use for the products that the universities are selling.

      So when making your desision, just make sure that you look at all your options, and that you analyze them openly and honestly.

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