University is a Bad Investment, Engagement is What Matters

University is an Unwise Investment:

Very thought provoking. Engagement is a core theme in this debate — what engages people cannot be met by a single solution, entity, etc. No matter how we choose to engage with the community & our own education, what’s most important is the act of engagement itself, and maintain that each and every day; during and after college, vocational school, independent study, employment, etc. If what we are doing is failing to engage, month after month, something is wrong, which I don’t think we always give ourselves the chance to reflect and see this for what it is. We’re too busy and afraid of making the wrong decision, what would my family think if I dropped out? What if I lose my job, will I still be employable without a degree? It’s not a few bad weeks here and there, but months of failing to engage, which should be a flag that we’ve chosen the wrong path or are in the middle of a rut. Whether it’s the student sleeping through their classes or the employee who does the minimum, it comes down to the same issue, disengagement.

It was my part time college years in 2004 through 2010 that interested me in many subjects, kept me engaged, accountable, and to fully leverage the opportunities around me. It lead me to setup personal routines and persisting until getting employed while completing projects to demonstrate skill. It connected me to countless mentors, students, and professors who would take time out of their day to remind me that everything was ok and that, if I stuck it out, that somehow everything would work out. It wasn’t having college experience that I was hired as a software engineer at a Fortune 1000 from what I have been told, but what I ultimately started doing afterward as a result — over a dozen job applications until finally getting hired, working freelance projects when employers turned me down, voraciously studying textbooks on my own time outside of a college setting, connecting over completed coursework, etc. So in my case I’d say a combination of college & practical experience is what ended up paying dividends, because, for whatever reason, it kept me engaged. I might not have a college degree today, but I feel deeply thankful and enriched by my college experience. The terror of dropping out reminded me of something a professor told me years ago: you can always come back, in a very nonchalant way. He’s right, I could always come back, even if the job didn’t pan out. His words freed me to explore an opportunity, rather than obsessing over the degree itself. For the first time in my life, I felt free, and terrified.

All I can say is that for me, University was never an investment, but a lifeline to something better, and has immeasurably contributed to my happiness and productivity. It connected me to others who ultimately helped push me out of my comfort zone and instructed me on how I can seek more from my own life; actions I could take, circumstances I could control, that might just influence my ability to make a place for myself in this world, whether it be a job, or a new startup, it all seemed possible and within reach.