Journeys with Julie- Questioning College

Last semester, I was fortunate enough to take a sociology course called  “Education and American Culture.”  Over the course of the semester, we explored how schools offer us a lot of insight into America’s culture and the ways in which it is tied to issues related to politics, social stratification and economic opportunity. One topic that was of particular interest to me was COLLEGE. We found that unlike our formative years of education, college is rarely given much attention when it comes to issues relating to reform or change.  Rather, college is often only in the news for issues concerning prestige, sports, or tuition cost.  What the media leaves out, however, is the true value of college. For me, questions I had never thought of arose such as, “Why did I choose one college over another?,” “In four years, what will I have gained in a professional sense?”, “Is college just a continuation of high school for us?, “ etc.

So, here are some of my own answers to some of these tough questions…Try answering them yourself, as well.

Was college worth it?

Yes, ALTHOUGH, I think maybe not for the reasons we always think. True, many of us need a college diploma to get a job, but I think we need to take a hard look at what we’re actually learning in the classroom and the marketable skills we gain after 4 or so years. If the only thing meeting our expectations is the football team, things need to change.

Do you think college is overvalued?

I think it’s important to remember that college might not be for everyone. If the interest isn’t there, there are other things you can pursue. For others, I think college gives students value and the added independence.

What would I have done differently?

I think I would have put less pressure on myself to choose the “right college.” What really is the right college? It’s not always the one with the most money or the one rated this elusive #1. In fact, it might have been the community college down the road for two years and then another school.

If it were up to you, how would you change this backward system we’ve gotten ourselves into? Is there hope?

1)   Reform college. College should be more than a social experience. It should give us measurable skills we can take into the workplace. Also, today many of us are pushed into grad school for even more education and more money. A part of me thinks that what we learn in grad school can be taught in undergrad saving kids money and reinstating some of the value of a college diploma.

2)   Change how we think about college! Students stress out about GPAS, ACTS, etc. all to go to this school over that one…but in the end will it really matter when we’re stressed out and realizing too late we didn’t like anything more than the college’s name?

3) Popularize the idea of a gap year for students exiting high school. If they don’t know what they want to do yet, why force them into college? Allow them time to explore majors/job opportunities before spending that money.

-What do you think? Leave me comments!

-Julie Wagenblast
LeadHer™ Intern, Campus Calm™
Learn more about Julie here.


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