Why your college degree matters

October 26, 2009·

I promised this post was coming, so here it is. I can NOT talk about social media for a day. 😉

I have been hearing some sad and somewhat disturbing buzz lately. In today’s technological society and with all this encouraged entrepreneurship, YES, many adults are throwing out the argument, “Today’s youth doesn’t need to go to college. A college degree doesn’t mean much anymore. It’s as common as a high school diploma. So just start your business, make millions, and forget about school.” Okay, that last part is an exaggeration, but definitely is not far from the truth of what many are arguing.

Right after I got my diploma. I was excited.
Right after I got my diploma. I was excited.

And many young entreprenuers themselves are starting to doubt whether or not they should go to college. The 16-year-old tech genius Daniel Brusilovsky wrote in a recent post that he was debating whether or not to apply for college. Brusilovsky was trying to decide whether or not college is the best four years of your life, or simply four years of wasted time. Especially considering how smart this kid is, it honestly bothered me that he would even THINK about not going to college. (Thankfully, he has closed the debate and he IS, in fact, going to go to college. PHEW!) Why would it bother me so much that a kid, one whom I have never met, is talking about not going to school? A lot of kids choose to forego college and pursue their dreams.

So what do I really think? Now, I’m speaking from a place of being currently unemployed (except for doing freelance work and consulting when I can and my part-time retail job – which both combined don’t exactly pay my bills). I’ll be honest to say that it has been frustrating lately applying for jobs and either having “too much” education or “not enough” education. I feel like I don’t fall into the desired category. I’m in a category with the majority of Americans – I have a high school diploma and a college degree, nothing more, nothing less – therefore according to corporate America, I’m average.

Now, not to toot my own horn, but I don’t consider myself to be average. I worked really hard. I got really good grades in college. And instead of going to a party on Friday night, I stayed up late working in the Student Government (SGA) office trying to make a difference on campus (at Christopher Newport) and throughout the state of Virginia. I volunteered more than 10 hours a week and I even created an endowed scholarship in honor of my mother when I graduated. Immediately after graduation, I had the honor of being selected as a Governor’s Fellow and worked beside the Governor of Virginia for two months experiencing state government first-hand. After serving as a Fellow, I went on to teach high school English for two years. It may have been the most challenging experience of my life, but I learned some of the most valuable information I will ever need to know. Now I’m unemployed and I can’t find a job. But I am no where near complaining. Honestly. I wouldn’t change any of my experiences.

Okay, ultimately, what is my point?

Life is unpredictable. Your situation can change at any moment. And although things may be more difficult now, I know they won’t be like this forever. But if I ever decide to pursue further education, advance in my career, or even run for political office, I am going to be proud to know that I have my degree from Christopher Newport University (Go Captains!) to back me up.

The four (sometimes five, six, or sadly, even seven) years you spend in college are vital. Look, I’m not trying to sound like a Vitamin-C song, but truly, college is not just about the classes, or the number of hours spent in the library. I learned more information (that I’m going to retain) outside of the classroom than I ever did taking notes on John Milton’s Paradise Lost. The connections that I forged, the meetings I attended, the clubs I was a part of, and even the mistakes I made, all helped to shape who I am now. And that DOES set me apart from the masses.

So even if you’re 17 and you have a brilliant idea that is going to make you billions, go to college and hash it out there. Don’t gamble with your future, in that if you ever do fall on your face in your 30’s, you’ll still have that degree to prove you’re worthy.

I swear, if I hear one more man, woman, or teenager say college isn’t worth it, I’m going to have some serious words. (I’m not a fighter, so I’ll probably just give them a stern talking to. But at least they’ll be intimidated).

All for now.