Why I Wish I Had Gone to College

Why I Wish I Had Gone to CollegeCollege: the dream many parents have for their children. A higher education is supposed to mean a better chance at high-paying jobs and an advantage over your lesser-educated peers. Sadly, it doesn’t turn out like this for everyone. Depending on your industry, a college education could very well just be a mountain of debt you have to pay off with very little actual advantage over your future.

Despite these obvious downsides often used by naysayers, there are plenty of reasons I wish I had gone to college. Even now, as I approach my 30s at breakneck speed, I find myself considering filling out those loan applications and signing up for some classes at our local community college.

Here are a few reasons I wish I had gone to college.

Some Employers Still Require Degrees for Skill-based Jobs

Applying for work without a degree means having to rest almost all of your chances of getting an interview on your experience alone. Gaining that experience is difficult for someone without a degree. If anything, having that higher education is an ice breaker between you and a new employer. It sets you apart from other candidates with equal or slightly greater experience and gets you in the door with some of those old-fashioned bosses who believe that professionals should have some form of college education.

I’ve reached a point in my career where I believe I can speak (with some level of expertise) to a number of subjects. Unfortunately, employers love seeing evidence of that expertise. A degree helps (sometimes), though it may not always be a requirement.

The College Experience

I work with college students and graduates all the time. They have a common experience that makes for great conversation and it’s that experience that sets them apart from me. I’m not saying that you need a degree to relate to someone with one, but I wish I’d had that experience of being in college and knowing what college students know about how classes work, what the general community of a college campus is like, and having been in an environment that nurtured and aided early entrepreneurial spirit among its students.

Would Steve Jobs have been so successful if he hadn’t gone to college? He attributed much of his personal style to a calligraphy class in which he sat. Bill Gates founded Microsoft out of his dorm room. Mark Zuckerberg’s idea for Facebook might never have come to him had he not been at Harvard.

In these cases, it wasn’t the piece of paper that made the difference for these successful businesses. It was the experience of being in a university that kick-started the ideas behind them.

A Career on Which to Fall Back

I’m currently enjoying being able to write about technology and geek culture for a living. My experience in video and audio production has opened that door for me, and enabled me to accomplish quite a bit in my field. However, if I had an education in a field that has some longevity to it (such as nursing, radiology, teaching, etc.) I would have something to fall back on if the field I’m in now were to suddenly dry up or become a financial hazard.

Chris Pirillo, the founder of LockerGnome, has a degree in English education. While he doesn’t have a career in education at the present, he does have the degree to make that career shift much easier. It’s a good backup plan, and one I wish I had gone to college in order to have.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of where my career and life are at this point, it would have been nice to have spent my early 20s attempting to get a degree rather than simply spending that time playing games or chatting with folks on the Internet. It might not be too late for me, but for now, hindsight is 20/20.

What about you? Are you attending school now or planning to get your degree? If so, what field? If you haven’t gone to college, would you rule out the possibility of going back in the future?

University by Anna Langova

5 comments On Why I Wish I Had Gone to College

  • I am currently community college in NJ pursing a business degree i understand how you feel thats one of the main reasons i decided to attended college so far i dont see anything exciting as of yet i guess its still really early in the system but it all balls down to college is what you make it

  • My father who got his degree at night school and graduated with three children told me that I didn’t need a degree to do most jobs but the people who usually do the hiring would want to see one. I failed out and went back later and raced to get my degree at night just before my daughter was born.

    My experience is this, if you can find a way to show you can do the job someone will hire you and probably for not much pay. When you become known for being able to do the job others will want you and no one will care whether or not you have the “formal” education. At that point you can be paid as much as anyone else, with or without the sheepskin.

    The only people who are adamant that you should have a degree are those who sell them, mostly teachers or the personnel department at major corporations where their fall back excuse of the new person didn’t work out was “he had the formal training.”

  • I never liked my school or “college”, life is about learning constantly new things and that is what college is for, i m a curious person, my journey is knowledge and with the help of technology i m pursuing that. College does teach you to be an organised person and evaluates your accomplishments, it also teaches discipline, all these things can be implemented in real life too. P.S. – never had friends in college, it was bad.

  • I hope i will go to college. I feel like i dont have the knowlege to apply for a job right now.

  • I am starting degree in ‘Computing’ on 18th September, I am worried about the programming! lol

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Ryan Matthew Pierson