What is the Obsession with College?

Seriously guys, what is the obsession with college?

“Everyone should have the opportunity to go to college!”

“You can’t get a good job without going to college, ya know.”

“Where are you going to go to college after you graduate?”

“You don’t have to know what you want to study.  Just go ‘undecided’ and figure it out as you go along!”

“College isn’t about getting a job. College is about becoming a critical thinker.”

I bet you’ve heard all of these things.  Maybe even said some of them.  Because they were said to you.  And, I mean, only some kind of complete jerk would discourage someone from going to college.  College is Good!  Right?

Now before you skip the rest of what I have to say, jump to the comments section and write something about how, you know, I must be a complete jerk or something, give me just a minute.

Some people enjoy things or have an aptitude for the kind of career that doesn’t require a degree from a four year institution.

Some people graduate from high school and have no idea what they enjoy or even have an aptitude for and shouldn’t be expected to start pursuing a career or training for a career right away.

Some people enjoy things and have an aptitude for the kind of career that does require a degree from a four year institution.

Some people believe that college has nothing to do with careers and poo-poo the idea that one should expect their university education to be directly linked to their future employment.  And to them I say “Great.  Where can I purchase clothing for my children using smiles of gratitude?”

What I’m trying to say is this- all sorts of people mean all sorts of abilities and tendencies and strengths.  We NEED all sorts of people in the work force.  We need plumbers and electricians and lawyers and contractors and tow-truck operators.  We need teachers and artists and physical therapists and midwives and farmers.  We need store managers and those dudes who repair shoes (see?  See how entrenched we are in “college major” careers?  I can’t even think of the word for shoe repair guys!) and that guy who designs the packaging for your favorite video game.  And surgeons.  And moms.

If someone would make an excellent X and being an X is best achieved by some sort of apprenticeship and vocational training instead of by going to a four year college and while they may never be “wealthy” by American standards as an X, at least they’ll be peaceful and happy and not have any student loans and be able to earn an honest wage in a way that they enjoy, what is wrong with them being an X?  

When I was little, I was told I had to be a doctor or a lawyer.  I am neither, by the way.  But every time I would bring up any other career or stare dreamily off into the distance and say something about how it would be so FUN to be a Y someday, I was immediately told that I needed a lot of money to be happy and the best way to have a lot of money was to be a doctor or a lawyer.  That I was too smart to be anything “less”.  As if all people who are successful at careers with less prestige than doctor and lawyer must be stupid.  And as if all doctors and all lawyers are brilliant.

Guess what, folks.  I’ve met a whole lot of miserable rich people.  Oh yes I have.  Miserable.  And I’ve met a whole lot of pretty happy people who would be considered poor by American standards.  And I’ve met joyful people who are rich and miserable people who are poor.  And I’ve met financially successful people who didn’t go to college and financially successful people who did.  And those  aren’t that didn’t and those aren’t that did.

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Dwija Borobia lives with her husband and their five kids in rural southwest Michigan in a fixer-upper they bought sight-unseen off the internet. Between homeschooling and corralling chickens, she pretends her time on the internet doesn’t count because she uses the computer standing up. You can read more on her blog house unseen. life unscripted.

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