Is College Worth It?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 7 of the Back to School Blogging Challenge! Learn more about the challenge here.

What better way to end a week of school-themed excited-ness than to really address why school is so important to me and why I love it so much. Warning, this is more of a text-heavy post, but it's also incredibly personal.

When I say I am a history major, I have mixed reactions. On one hand, some people think that it's great to have a more academic degree, as it ensures that I have the critical thinking and writing skills that are lacking in some other degrees that are more fit to direct job market entry. I've been told that it makes me more versatile, and I can fit into several different types of jobs based on the skills I have gained in my major. Some of the potential employers I've encountered have told me that they do not necessarily look for students that have the technical skills of a particular job, but for those who have "people skills" and communication skills, or those that can think critically, as the technical skills can be taught.

On the other hand, some people - even employers - have questioned me, telling me to prepare myself for a life without money or "advising" me to switch my major to something like business or engineering that has a more certain path to financial success than my beloved humanities major.

Sure, I could make a lot of money as an engineering major. But I would hate myself every day. I dislike math intensely (which may be partly due to an awful teacher I had in high school), and I find myself more interested and drawn to the liberal arts and humanities that people are so fond of hating.

Fortunately, I have the luxury to make college about more than just my financial future. For most jobs that I will seek, having a college degree will be not a "plus" but absolutely essential, and in my dream field of museum education, having a graduate degree will be a requirement. For me, college is more than just my future earnings. College is about gaining experiences that I would not have been able to get if I had gone to a technical college and entered the workforce right after high school (don't get me wrong, that is a great path for a lot of people, as I know that college is not feasible for everyone, and not everyone wants to go to college or would do well in college). I wanted to be able to see the world, learn about other cultures, meet other people. I wanted to enrich my soul and mind as much as I want to enrich my bank account. Luckily, I have been able to do both as a history major.

There is also a huge disparity in educational equity in this country and worldwide. So many people do not have access to quality education, so it is hard to justify just learning for the sake of learning. Quality education is one of the surest ways to empowerment - especially for women and girls. One of my latest inspirations and heroes is Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani woman who is fighting for educational equality and empowerment of women and girls in Pakistan. It tells you a lot that the Taliban tried to kill a young woman for advocating for education. As a feminist and an advocate for equality for women, limiting women's access to education is the surest way to keep us oppressed and that is why it is so important to increase educational opportunity, quality, and equality. My education is a privilege, and one that I am incredibly thankful for, because I know only 6.7% of people worldwide have the opportunity to get this type of education.

I know some people - even maybe some of you - see financial fulfillment as a road to personal fulfillment and happiness. For me, that is not the case. I know I have to earn enough money to support myself, and my family when the time comes, but I also want to be happy doing it. I keep coming back to school, and I decided to go to college, because education is my path to personal fulfillment. I love to learn, and I have always loved to learn, and I think that in a world where everything is measured by the numbers, I would like to advocate for the fact that not all successes and not everything in life can be quantified.

So maybe the answer is yes. Education is certainly worth every minute and dollar that you would spend on it. Education is empowering, inspiring, and ultimately fulfilling, and therefore very much worth it.

Do you find your education to be worth it? Why do you (or don't you) go to school?

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