Tuesday, September 05, 2017

College Education

It is off to college time again for many families. There seems to be a lot of discussion about the value of a college education and what types of things should be taught. Also, what about trade or technical school?

I went to trade school to learn to be a television repairman and then to college to study electrical engineering. It seemed like a logical transition to me. I repaired TV's for a couple of summers and then realized that I didn't care for televisions or engineering, so I transferred to Finance, which was sort of trade school for people who wanted to be bankers or CFO's.

Since I have been self-employed my whole life, I never worked in any of those industries, but I have found that a basic background in both of those things to be somewhat helpful, even though many of the things I learned quickly became obsolete, if they were even true then.

Since my college days I have spent almost all of my leisure time trying to learn the things I should have learned in school: history, art, and literature for example. In other words, I got a Liberal Arts Education on my own after I left college. The important thing I learned in college was how to stop being a kid and start being an adult, something too many people never learn. I also learned how to be a friend and the kind of person that people want to work with. I developed curiosity and a desire to learn new things. That desire for continued education has made all the difference. These are all things I learned from classmates and the environment, not in a classroom.

Is a college degree worth the money? It would certainly be better if it didn't cost so much, and you could certainly learn all the technical stuff just by spending a few days a week at the public library for a few years. College should make you tougher and more open to other people and cultures, not isolate you from the world for four years. Choosing a major based on starting salaries is total folly as is going into massive debt to come out over-degreed and undereducated.

In our society, a college education has become a necessity to be considered for many occupations. One's ability and desire to continue learning and to be adaptable and productive is difficult to measure but so vital to life in today's world. We need to work to make a good education accessible to everyone.