A recent article in the New York Times, “Saying No to College,” raises a pertinent question: Is college worth it? Increased tuition costs are giving would-be and current students pause and they’re asking themselves if college will more effectively equip them for success than time and money spent on having life experiences instead. The article, understandably so, sparked a number of comments, many of which note that a formal education is necessary for many of the professions that are instrumental in our society, such as medicine and law. Sure, there may be a coding class available for $10,000 that will render you employable, but there is no class for $10,000 that will render you capable of being a surgeon. For some professions, the costs of education be what they may, there are no shortcuts.
Largely lacking from the discussion was the fact that college oftentimes provides undirected young people an opportunity to explore different subject matters, and potential careers, they would otherwise not be exposed to. What we take away from an experience is not wholly defined by the outcome. A degree in computer science may land you a job as a programmer just as a boot camp course could, but what happens when you discover that your fulfillment doesn’t lie with computer programming? College is a rare opportunity not just to learn under the tutelage of experts, who accelerate your accumulation of knowledge by guiding you to the most definitive sources, but to discover what you didn’t know existed.
Finding career fulfillment is an ongoing journey, not a vocational sprint. Many times we must expose ourselves to experiences outside of our everyday to find it. College offers us a starting point to assess ourselves, who we think we are, and who we think we want to become before we begin our journey.