(Note: I am just going to call ‘University’ ‘College’ because it is the more widely used term here in America, even though it is technically incorrect.)
It’s been nearly 3 months (exactly: 78 days) since I graduated college and I harken back to my ‘good ole days’ of being at school with all of my friends. I am also reminded of the grueling work (hours upon hours upon hours just looking up GIS data) that I had to complete to successfully obtain my degree in geography. Then I am reminded of all the great experiences (good and bad) that I went through, by myself and with others, and how it will shape me to be a great human. And finally I am left asking myself, “Was it worth it?”
Was it worth it for me to go into debt for essentially a four-year life experience, whereas I could have started ‘grinding’ it out at a low level position for some company right after highshool or entered into a technical school where I would have very likely found a job?
All the fiber of my being wants me to say, “No, Brad, it wasn’t worth it because now you’re left in a lot of debt, and ‘experiences’ can’t pay back that debt.” Yet, I am going to say, “Yes, it was absolutely worth it.” I loved experiences new cultures on campus through classes and new friends, especially being a kid from a 97.1% white population. I loved having friends from Michigan, friends from bigger cities (Cincinnati, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus), loved meeting people with extraordinary backstories and personal lives, I have loved nearly every single person that has come into my life and the lessons they have taught me. I may not love them on an emotional level, but I am grateful for any lessons (good or bad) that they have taught me through their actions, words, and teachings.
It truly was worth it for me to do this because I will never have this experience ever again where I feel like I am permanently at a summer camp with all of my friends and I have the chance to meet a new one every day; though, I will say that after the first two years “new friends” were harder to come by because people were typically already in rather complex friend groups, but I still made new friends my junior and senior years!
Now I will say, however, that if you want to have this experience you need to be smart about it, and not standardized test smart (that’s a-whole-nother story for another day). I went to an in-state school with a minor scholarship, and the school was only an 1 hr~ away from my home; far enough to be on my own, but close enough in case of an emergency. I knew that I wasn’t going to become a medical doctor, or a lawyer, or an aeronautical engineer, so I didn’t seek out a prestigious school (I will say that just because a school is prestigous does not mean it will be expensive, but typically it does) that would have cost me an arm and both my legs. It’s not that people shouldn’t strive to be great – you should – but when it comes to college you need to be smart. If you’re going to become a teacher (an unheralded position that needs more support from all American citizens), why go to a school that will have you in 100k+ debt when you can attend one where you’ll only be in 55k debt? It’s essentially the same experience; not exactly, obviously, but close to it.
That’s just how I feel about it. Be smart about the college you select. Take into account everything: how much debt will I be in, how far do I want to be from home, will I experience other cultures/peoples here, etc.
Now I leave you with the freshman year meme that gained popularity roughly around my freshman year!