How many of you are excited to go to college? I bet many of you are. Who wouldn’t be? That feeling you get as if your entire life, all that you have worked for, has built up to this one point. Now I’m going to try and answer some of the questions about this decision that many of you are about to make, such as why do you go to college? Is college worth it? And what one does at college.
In life there has always been a struggle between what most to focus on, the mind or the wits. I have noticed that the average student of today is mainly focused on the former, now what does this include? Well, as children we have always been told about the path to easy street. The path is simple:
1) Be Good => Citizenship.
2) Get good grades => G.P.A.
3) Go to a good college => Rank and test scores
4) Get a Good job => salary
I call them the four G’s or the 4.0 of life, and they have been told and retold to us time and again by our parents and elders. Why do they believe so firmly that this path will undoubtedly lead you to success? Because it worked for them; but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it will work for us as well. Nonetheless, thousands and even millions of students go down this same path, and frankly, it looks like the JFK freeway at 7:30 in the morning. Something like this…
Each one of these cars represent a student and each one of them are of different make and model. They also carry some amount of wear and tear, some more than others. Everyone is promised something; that they will become either a doctor, lawyer, teacher or engineer. These are not the only career choices out there; in fact there are hundreds of others and most of these students going down this path don’t want to become any of those four aforementioned things. And because we don’t actually want to take those paths that the millennial generation have done, we are called the lost generation, defining a sense of existential angst in our general consciousness.
I like to think of us as generation WHY? Because we like to question everything, if something has to be done one way we ask why it can’t be done another way, why must it always be done this way. So students and teachers alike should be asking the question WHY? Students, you should be asking why should I go to college and teachers should be asking why should students go to college, because the old linear frame work of easy street isn’t working anymore. If your WHY is money then that’s a good guess, college graduate do make a lot more over the course of their lifetimes than people who just passed high school, so one can look at college as a ladder to a brighter future, but that future is changing as most students are choosing the wrong career path and thereby climbing up the wrong ladder, which will either make them end up climbing forever or falling off entirely.
Times are changing, a lot has changed since our parents went to school. For them, if you did better than the person to the left of you and the person to your right then you will turn out okay, for people who graduated in the nineties and early two thousands if you did better than most of the people in your state then you could get into a good college. In today’s day and age tho, that has completely changed. A school student applying to college now competes with every other student of his age group in the whole entire world. So what are you going to do to stand out? And just being American does not give you a competitive advantage. Thanks to globalization the world is now flat, and if you expect to do the same thing what your teachers and elders did, you’re not going to get the same results. Easy street is slowly fading in the background and it’s time to pave your own path.
Developing your street smarts is the key to doing that and it involves the 4.0 that really matters, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do the other 4.0 which you have already been doing, that is important as well. So how do you develop your street smarts? Well it comes in four parts.
- Personal Capital
How well do you know yourself? What are your strengths and weaknesses and passion, and what do other people see you as and what do you see when you look into a mirror. The world may see you as just another person but you may see yourself as something more.
- Intellectual Capital
Your intellectual capital is your expertise in one or more subjects or skills, most college students graduate college after four years of ‘’majoring’’ in something and if they were asked to give a one hour lecture on the spot on the subject of their major, they would feel unready to do so. Your intellectual capital may have nothing to do with the subjects that you’re studying but some subject or skill that you are passionate about.
- Social Capital
This includes who you know and who knows you. Your parent’s friends, peers, professors, community leaders etc. The best way to network is networking up, you have to network with people who are on the other side of the door that you are trying to get into. Your peers can take you to the door but it’s up to you to open it. (It doesn’t matter how many Facebook friends you have, they are not your social capital)
- Financial Capital.
Now this is a tricky one it’s ‘’who knows that you know, what you know’’ it is a combination of your intellectual capital ‘’what you know’’ with your social capital ‘’who you know’’ and when these things combine, financial opportunities start flowing.
So these are the street smarts that you want to know, this is the 4.0 that matters and when you think about a college you want to go to you apply the same logic to it; you go somewhere where you can pursue what you are passionate about which has good facilities such as libraries and equipment.
You choose a college with a good alumni network, student groups, programs and events. Which also offers scholarships and grants because college is expensive, and you need to make sure that you have a sufficient return on your investment. You want to graduate more valuable than when you came in.
So I think the main question is how would you want to invest four years of your life, because at the end of the day you college degree is just a piece of paper with major debt and minor capital, and even if you get a fancy frame for it, it will remain a piece of paper and its value will be determined by what you do in between orientation and graduation, that’s it. So is college worth it? YES! It is, But your MAJOR may not matter, so get a MASTERS in self. Succeed in the classroom and get that other 4.0 but FAIL as much as you can outside of it. You are buying an experience, not just an education. And it is an investment in your dream, not a guarantee of a job.
So you can take easy street and hope that you get through, or in the words of Jack Frost, take the road less travelled by.