Imagine this scenario:
You’ve landed a new job. Congratulations! There’s a lot of prestige associated with this company. It’s in a city you’ve always wanted to live in, and you’re going to be able to do work that you really enjoy. Unfortunately, the job doesn’t pay that well. In fact, they ask you to pay them for all the work you’re doing. But it’s easy, because they’ve organized a special lending program so that you don’t have to pay up front. Oh, and they don’t provide any of the tools you’ll need to do your new job, so your going to have to equip your own office with anything you might require.
The benefits aren’t really that great, either. They offer housing, but it’s pretty spartan and you have to share your room with another new employee. You’ve never met her, but whatever. I’m sure you’ll get along. While you’re working for this company you’re going to be very busy, and probably won’t have a lot of time to cook. So they offer you a selection of unhealthy foods that are ready-made any time you want them. For just a few thousand dollars extra, and of course you can pay that back later too.
The company does a great job training you to work for them. They teach you everything you need to know in order to excel in your new position. You put in a lot of overtime, and you work from home a lot, but you’re enjoying it because you like the work.
You’re going along strong at your new job. You’ve learned enough about the ins and outs of the company that you feel confident about the work that you’re producing. Then, after a few dedicated years at this company, you’re terminated. They’ll congratulate you on the great work that you’ve done with them, and they’ll give you their best wishes on finding a great fit at your next job. And then they remind you that they’ll be expecting your check next month as repayment for all the work you’ve done for the last few years.
Consider carefully: would you take this job?
Ok, that may be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it probably got your attention, right?
Now here’s the best part:
You don’t have to take that job. You really, really don’t.
If you’re in high school right now, you’re probably weighing a lot of different options for once you graduate. (Or maybe, you’re just weighing the benefits of finishing your homework vs. getting enough sleep.) If you get decent grades, or even if you don’t, there’s probably someone telling you to think about going to college. You should hear that person out. But you should also hear me out. I’m the other person. I’m telling you to think about not going to college.
Be skeptical when you talk with admission counselors. Ask what they think the goal of obtaining a degree from their school should be. A high paying job? A well-rounded liberal arts education? Somewhere to live while you hang out with your friends? See what they say, and ask yourself what you’re really going to be paying for. Yes a degree in philosophy (or even art history, I can admit) is nice, but how much of what you plan to spend your time and money on is available for free right now, online and in the library?
Ok I confess… despite the flashy title of my post I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to college. I’m just saying that you don’t have to.