Is College all just a Sham?

Mike Klarin

So, here you are. You’ve made it to college. In your mind, or at least in your parents’ minds, you’ve hit the jackpot. After all, you’ve heard for most of your life that earning a college degree is a ticket to the good life: two cars, a mortgage, and exactly 2.01 children.

MIKE (1)
Klarin

But is college really what it’s hyped up to be? Had I been asked that question two or three years ago, I’d have denied it vehemently. Should someone ask me today, I’d say, “it depends.”

The point I’m trying to make is that one can be very successful without having been formally educated, and that having a college degree plays a small part in how successful you will be in life. Note: if you’re majoring in any of the hard sciences, disregard what I just said. Just keep doing what you’re doing.

Having a formal education is not a bad thing, it’s just important that you choose your course of study wisely. Just because you can get a degree in ceramics doesn’t mean you should. You could take a pottery class in town or read a few books and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. If you’re really that talented, you won’t need a degree to prove your worth.

Moving on, the issue of how employable liberal arts majors are comes up a lot in the news and in conversation. One thing you should know is that there are plenty of jobs out there, you just have to look for them. With many liberal arts programs, you’re going to need to go further than the bachelor’s level if you want to work in your field of study.

Failing that, you should focus on the core strengths of your major. As opposed to career-specific programs that teach you what to think, a liberal arts degree teaches you how to think and be a lifelong learner.

Use everything to your advantage, but there are other opportunities as well that require any or no degree at all if you’re looking for more excitement.

One such area that is absolutely frothing with opportunity is the South Dakota oil and gas industry, where entry level positions with salaries toppling $100,000 are plentiful. Best of all, they don’t require a college degree, though if you have one you may find an even better position with higher pay. If you’re willing to put in a year or two of hard, sometimes dangerous work, you could pay off all your debts and have enough saved for a down payment on a house, a new car, and a graduate degree to make yourself more employable.

You have options, which brings me to my original question: “Is college really what it’s hyped up to be?” Once again, I say “it depends.”

If you’re an introvert, it can bring you out of your shell. You might discover your true passion while sitting in history 101, or come up with the next billion-dollar idea in chemistry or computer science. The main idea is to go for the right reasons and understand a degree is only a tool, and there is no magic ride to success.

And if the day comes after you’ve graduated and you’re out of a job and contemplating eating cat food to pay your light bill, just remember that there are innumerable careers out there that you may never have thought you’d find yourself doing. Most importantly, they’ll pay the bills–and might lead you to a lifelong career that’s both gratifying and fun. Pet food taster, anyone?