College Is Not For Everyone, But A Good Education Is

Career-fair-pic-This is a new year and another semester has begun. I have my fingers crossed hoping that I get a really good group of students. Last semester’s students were phenomenal. Part of last semester’s success had to do with the fact that first semester freshmen made up about 55% of my classes. These were students who had just left high school a few months earlier and most of them were eager to expand their knowledge base and build their social/connection capital.

These students’ active engagement in critical thinking and other higher level problem-solving skills became contagious, forcing everyone else to put forth his/her best effort. The sophomores and juniors’ pride were on the line and they would not surrender the intellectual high ground to a group of greenhorn students. Those combined variables resulted in a stimulating, invigorating and rigorous learning environment. And this is exactly what professors yearn for – the opportunity to share a sacred space with learners.

But what happens when we are dealt a bad hand by the gods? What can be done when distillers of knowledge come face-to-face with students whose grandest ambition is to shape the world with their ignorance? Is there anything we can do other than give them a warm welcome and hope that they drop our class early in the semester, saving us from slow torture and prolonged mental agony?

While those are legitimate concerns, I think the issue we need to address is that college is NOT for everyone. There is a myth that going to college somehow automatically improves one’s life. Well, here is a dirty little secret about higher education. Colleges and universities are businesses. That is, colleges and universities are in the education business to make money, and they have gamed the system almost flawlessly – generating astronomical financial returns for stakeholders.

There is no doubt that a college education can open many doors of opportunities that might otherwise remain closed. Even so, the people with the loudest bullhorns, i.e., legislators, education lobbyists, university presidents, and financial institutions should stop propagating the myth and absurdity that going to college is the only gateway into the American middle-class and the only way to stay out of poverty.

Vocational, technical, and digital education are other viable alternatives that have proven their worth in building economic growth. Let’s not forget about entrepreneurship. One proven way to employment, financial security and self-fulfillment is to create a business. Don’t believe me? Ask the following people, some of whom did not attend college and others who dropped out of college: Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Jennifer Aniston, Mark Wahlberg, Channing Tatum, Micky Arison, Jane Austen, Russell Simmons, Mark Zuckerberg, Ashley Simpson, Ted Turner, Will Smith, Naomi Campbell, James Cameron, Amanda Hocking, Michael Dell, Leighton Meester, Nicki Minaj, Kate Moss, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, and the list goes on.

Every student has the right to a quality education; however, it has to be an education that is best suited for the individual.

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2 thoughts on “College Is Not For Everyone, But A Good Education Is

  1. I agree college isn’t for everyone. From personal experience, I had the pressure of college all of my adolescences and high school years. When I was younger, the only questions I heard were what you want to be when you grow up and what the college of your choice is. There weren’t really questions like have you thought of the military or getting a job. I believe high school is a distraction from reality. I say this because high school doesn’t prep you for the real world. It doesn’t teach how to balance a check book, file taxes, or budget. So my question is, how I know if I am college material. Am I wasting someone’s hard earned money or am I a critical thinker, who is getting the knowledge she needs to progress. Will my major take me far or am I wasting my time with a major that isn’t going to give me any pleasure in life. People like Nicki Minaj, Will Smith, and etc. are puppets because they are controlled by their label and are told what and what not to do. Yes, they are drop outs but they are marching to the beat of someone else’s drum. College might not be for everyone but puppetry is something that hasn’t gone out of style. It exists in music, politics and everyday life aspects. My questions is how can I rise above the odds and become more than what people direct me towards.

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    • Kiara, you made great points about high schools in general not adequately preparing students to handle some of the complexities of the real world. With that in mind, I wonder how much of this deficiency in knowledge on the part of the student lies with the parents. And you’re right, “puppetry…has not gone out of style.” To your question about rising above the odds, I would like to propose the following activity. Get a sheet of paper. Draw a line down the middle. On one side, list three problems you would like to solve? On the other side, list products and/or services that could address the corresponding problems. Once you have those jotted down, select the problem + product/service that you are most passionate about and one that can be easily monetize…and work out the kinks. This is an all-important preliminary step towards brand building and wealth creation.

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