I’m twenty five and I don’t have a college degree.
This is something I’ve been struggling with for years. And the older I get, the worse that struggle seems to be. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to go to college, quite the contrary- I love learning and I’m a respectable student. Originally, it was that I didn’t want to enroll until I was sure what I wanted schooling for. Then, it was a question of whether or not it was mature and/or responsible to accrue that kind of debt. And now, the more and more graduates I know with Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degrees, who themselves aren’t sure what college taught them other than how to own a really expensive piece of paper, the more I question what college will do for me. Clearly, it isn’t securing a spectacular career. In fact, I’m not sure I know of anyone who even has a job in the field of their major.
And now that I’m trying to navigate the realm of volunteering overseas, you know, the realm where I buy a really expensive plane ticket and then pay an organization to allow me to work for free, I’m coming up against the desire these organizations have for their volunteers to possess a four year degree. In anything.
Have a degree in interior design? Want to cultivate a farm?
Have a degree in marketing? Cool, want to teach English to small children?
Which leads me to wonder what it is exactly that people think a college degree does. Obviously employers aren’t looking for a specific skill set (lest your major actually matter) but I’m beginning to think that the mass public believes either:
A) going through four years of college teaches you some skill you cannot acquire any other way (perhaps that skill is work ethic??).
B) someone who hasn’t gone to college is just blatantly unintelligent.
or C) our system is flawed and higher education has received a reputation it hasn’t actually earned.
I continue to want to go to college, but that desire is consistently being challenged with the high probability that at graduation I might look back on the last four years of my education and not be able to identify what valuable skill college equipped me with that I didn’t obtain before hand or couldn’t obtain any other way. And if that skill was something I could have obtained otherwise (or doesn’t have a monetary value of tens of thousands of dollars), me and my student loan are going to HAVE WORDS.
I have good work ethic. I have intense life and job experience. I like, and understand how to use(!), big words. Unfortunately “do you have a four year degree OR equivalent life experience” isn’t usually an option on an application. Reminding myself of the many very successful (and often famous) entrepreneurs before me who have managed to pursue their dreams without being stopped by their lack of college education is helpful, but then also leaves me insecure by comparison. Am I that driven? Am I that talented? And then I begin to wonder if my desire to obtain a college degree isn’t born from a lack of belief in myself. I want to write, but am I the Zuckerberg or the Rachel Ray of writing? I know we are never our own best critic, but I’m going to go with no, I’m not on the cusp of inventing the latest writing phenomenon or teaching people how to write anything in 30 minutes or less.
I want to serve, I want to travel, and I want to write. Preferably in that order. I’m not asking anyone to pay me to hold orphaned African babies all day, but I am asking why I would need a college degree for that.
-the Monster Queen