Should every kid go to college?

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How much is your diploma worth?

A few days ago, I mentioned a conversation with my friends at work. Included was a discussion of the value of higher education. We work in a school setting, where advanced college degrees are a significant qualification that will help you advance in your career. That’s definitely true for the monopassionate teacher or administrator. The more diplomas you have, the more respect you garner in this setting.

But seriously, for most of us, ESPECIALLY Multipassionates, a college degree is a four-year commitment to a one year passion. Why should I spend years in classes, and pay huge sums for continuing education, if I’m going to move on in a few months or years? I love taking classes and learning, and so do most Multipassionates, but that doesn’t mean that long-term programs are necessarily a good thing for me.

The average annual cost for a 4-year degree at a public university is just under ten grand for tuition and fees and probably that much again for room and board. It’s $24,000 if you study out of state, and $33,400 for a private school. That’s a big investment. Should we just bite the bullet and do it, because our culture says it’s necessary?

In our field, the gospel is that all of our students should be encouraged to go to college. It’s seen as the goal of all we do. Low-income families are counseled about financial aid, low-performing students are pressed to improve their grades as part of a college strategy, all students are required to take advanced math, language arts, and history classes, and encouraged to try out for Honors or Advanced Placement classes that will help get them into a better college. The system pushes all students into the college pipeline, whether it’s suitable for them or not.

Years ago, students in high school were often separated into “college bound,” “trade school,” and other categories. This was called “tracking” because you put students on a track to maximize their success in whatever they did after graduation. These days, that’s a bad word, seen as discriminating against some students in favor of others. And yet, we see students every day who would be far better off learning a trade, such as plumbing or carpentry, rather than spending four years and $80,000+ on a college degree.

So many people I run into these days have immense student loan debt. If you pay it on time, it’s years of bondage, if you miss a few payments, it’s a credit report that prevents you from owning your own home or buying a car on credit. And the more advanced your degree, the more you owe by the time you get it.

And that’s just for monopassionate students. What about Multipassionate people, who don’t want to be doctors, lawyers, or teachers their whole lives long? A big investment in higher education is highly recommended for those fields because it pays off in the long run. But for we who run from one dream to the next, it’s an investment in a future that may never come.

None of this is intended to discount the value of education. As I said, I love classes and learning. I spent twenty-four years completing my bachelor’s degree in a field in which I am not currently employed. But I don’t consider a minute of any of those classes to be wasted. I use all that information in so many ways my college professors could never have imagined. But I also cannot imagine a scenario in which I would pursue an advanced degree again. I did post-graduate work but never completed the Master’s degree as I intended. Today, I don’t regret that one bit.

Is an advanced degree something important to you? If so, go out and get it. But if you’re Multipassionate; seriously consider whether that huge investment of time and effort will produce something you’ll enjoy for a lifetime, or just until the next passion comes along. Will you be paying for it long after you’ve moved on to something else?

Love to hear your stories and experiences. Please comment below and enhance the experience for all of us in the Multipassionate tribe.

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