I currently go to college, and if it weren't for the fact that it is so cheap due to scholarships and financial aid, and because my parents really want me to graduate, I would have probably dropped out already. It's been said by various bloggers and other minds already : College just isn't an effective place to get the skills required to succeed in life. Unless you're going for a profession that requires a lot of credentials, or need access to institutional level equipment or processes to get your research done (such as say an electron microscope) College just doesn't work. Here are the main problems.
1. Its expensive. I want to mention this one first and underscore it substantially. College isn't cheap, even a state college can end up costing 10-15 thousand dollars a year. or about 40-60 thousand dollars for your diploma. And its not only that, you have to look at the differential, in other words you can't compare going to college versus not going college, you have to compare going to college, with what you give up to go to college. Not only could you have used that time to make 40-60 thousand dollars working minimum wage, gotten some real life work experience, but that gave you money. Thus the actual cost of going to college, comparing it to a minimum wage job, is actually 80-120 thousand dollars. And this is for state 4-year colleges, if its private, I hope you have a scholarship or have very rich parents.
But, it doesn't stop there, College isn't just expensive in dollar terms, but also in terms of time. It is very easy to feel very time-deprived in college, and it can be hard to get side projects done do the cognitive switch penalty (every time you shift attention you have to spend time rebuilding attention or refocusing) When you have 4-5 classes spread around a couple of subjects, maybe a club or sport, a social life, and want to tack on a side project such as a startup, or maybe something like learning some programming, poker, or just relaxing, your time really starts going through the door. You spend countless minutes doing the minutiae like going to and from class, having to meet up with groups, email professors, switch from math, to politics, to a film class, to psychology, then you want to go exercise, maybe go out to eat with friends and still have time to maybe watch a TV show or read up on a passion of yours. It all takes a large toll on your attention.
2. It doesn't train you. Everyone talks about getting an education left and right and how important it is to be educated. Then you go to college and all the professors talk about how important it is to be in class. The truth is I've noticed 90%+ of classes teach you things you could have learned just easily, or probably even better, by just buying 3-5 books on the subject on amazon, and watching a couple of documentaries on the subject. The fact of the matter is humans get better at what they do most, not at what they are taught to do. But wait, isn't that the same? No. A person who spends all day analyzing tennis matches and tennis players gets better at doing just that, analyzing tennis matches and tennis players, they don't get better at tennis. The same goes for college. if you spend all day studying management strategies you get better at doing just that.
This is why I find college good for certain technical majors, where you have to use institutional equipment and where one is exposed to labs and other hands-on training that leads to actually developing expertise.
I remember when one of my friends graduated to go work for a bank I asked him what he was going to do his last summer before going to the corporate world, thinking he would want to travel, or do something different before he would have to settle down and abide to a schedule. To my surprise, he told me had to spend the whole summer getting trained. 12 weeks. It turned out College didn't really matter, cause it didn't teach him how to fit into the institution, what rules to follow, what the procedures are etc.. Even though he took various finance and accounting classes, in reality it was nothing like the actual process in the real world.
So if you don't go to college what do you do? work? what if I can't find a job?
work doesn't always entail a job. I used to be very anti-work. I would find it so hard to find time to dedicate time to learning skills or working, yet would spend countless hours of video games. Then little by little i just significantly lowered the amount of time i spent playing video games and refocused into researching, learning and acquiring the skills I wanted. Learning a lot of these skills can be very dry. Spending 5 hours learning php or Ruby seems like climbing a mountain compared to say, playing a video game or going on a netflix binge. I think tynan said it best in one of his posts about stimulation, where he underscored how he had progressed in a way that allowed him to see the inner peace, calm, and focus that a lack of stimulation can bring. I think that by far this was the hardest thing for me, and I am sure is the hardest thing for a lot of other people as well. Transitioning from that point of spending hours playing stimulating video games, watching movies, and partying with friends, to the point where you put all that on hold and just grind out hours working or learning a skill can be huge. I've seen this happen countless times with my friends and I. An opportunity presents itself, but you don't want to give up that time hanging out with friends or playing your video games. But in reality sometimes you just got to be willing to give it up and put in the hours, the attention, and the focus in order to learn what really matters to you.
Most of all make sure this all fits in your framework of what you want out of life, where you want to be in 2 or 5 years and what you like to do. I see so many people, especially in college, just living through the ebbs and flows with no focus. Its as if since they are in college they can just put it on hold and worry about it later. I see people and I ask myself where do they want to be in 2, 3, 5 years? what are they doing now to get there? what skills do they want to acquire? what ideas do they want to come up with? how many hours do they spend a day working?
having a framework is powerful because every time you do something you can ask yourself how is this fitting into my framework? What should I be doing instead?
To be clear I don't want anyone to turn into a robot where they just follow this religiously. I'm not advocating giving up all your daily pleasures or distractions. I still occasionally play video games, or spend time biking around the city and going to a party. But compared to the average college student or to my past self, I spend considerably less time doing so.
So what does everyone think? Did college help you acquire the skills you need to make up for the differential? Did you to have to go thourgh that stimulation to work transition?