How I realized that I'll probably learn more in the next four years than I have the last four years:
College, I have realized was only a stepping stone to self improvement. To making mistakes and learning from them, testing my own limits, realizing what I am capable of, and finding the truth in relationships that I have developed through my life and will continue to develop as my life continues. The past four years have given me little technical skills that I will need in a job. Most of the technical skills I have learned have been from things I have taught myself or learned as a result of extracurriculars. This is different for each person, I know. I graduated with degrees in things that are good to know when entering the real world, but not necessary. I have no regret of what I studied and by no means do I wish I went anywhere else for those studies. If anything, my university and its location (Philadelphia) gave me the resources I needed as a platform. So many of us define our successes or would like to define our successes on the type of degree we get or the prestige of our university. It definitely does make a difference, but many times you will find that it is your own personal drive and passion for something(s) that will make you successful. I have had this discussion with my friend Shaili many times. The discussion that many have a passion for being successful, but then end up failing or becoming depressed in the end because they have not succeeded. What we as people need to understand is that being successful is not a passion. Being passionate about a cause or a subject is a passion and then finding success in it comes later. I guess I decided to start writing about this because I've reflected a lot about the past 4 years and I've realized what many people tend to realize: you can leave university just as or even more confused as when you entered. Just because you have a piece of paper saying you've achieved something doesn't really mean you've achieved it (A few weeks ago my dad sent me an email and attached was a picture of my degree certificate that said "this paper costs $250,000"....haha). I wasn't particularly happy on my graduation day just as many people were and I think it's because I didn't believe my education led me to any particular path. Yes, I know what you're thinking. I'm 22 and have the rest of my life to figure that out. But my question is why is this something that society (companies, families, universities) puts so much weight on? Is it because of status? Is it because we need something to measure ability and university provides a platform for this test? Would a 18-22 year old with abnormal self motivation be able to buy a bunch of books and teach himself about the world of investing and then network with professionals to build contacts OR would this self made student need to go to a university that has a network of professors and other professionals that can teach him as well as provide him with a network? I don't know the answer to these questions because I don't know anyone who has dared to tread a path like this. If they have, I certainly would like to get to know them. I've heard of many either in my generation or the generations before who have dropped out of school and become entrepreneurs. However, I don't know anyone in this generation that has not gone to school or dropped out and gotten a job like many of my friends are getting now as post-grads (seriously, if you're out there, I would like to know who you are).
I like to think of university as a great stepping stone, as a platform for personal and professional development. It isn't for many and it is at the same time. As mentioned, for me, it was more for personal development. I'm not sure if my academics made a difference in my end goal which was not to pursue a traditional 9-5 job. I decided to start working towards my own dreams for 40+ hours a week, rather than someone else's.
I didn't write this to lessen the importance of getting a college education. I think it's important, especially if you end up walking away with more than what you entered. My 4 years taught me a lot and I wouldn't take them back for anything. However, I can't fathom why there is so much weight put on something that often time doesn't end up leading to happiness. A nice degree, great salary, extracurriculars- all of these things are great, but we don't learn things such as handling our personal finances. We learn how to make money, but not manage it. This is just one example and there are definitely others.
I may be a little biased. My parents barely had any secondary education and never had the opportunity to go to college. Despite this, and although worked to the bone, my father became a successful businessman. He learned everything he needed to know about life and his career through reading books, watching videos, and talking to as many people as he could. He taught me how to be financially smart and how to be practical in life. I was taught to not be a slave to others both personally and professionally. These are things that I hope would be taught in schools because quite frankly, I don't believe they're taught at home enough. College is supposed to prepare us for what comes next, but it doesn't. I don't think anything besides learning from your own or other's life experiences really does. Maybe this is a secret you're only supposed to find out for yourself after you've done 4 years or maybe it's something that is not really thought about because the end goal of a college education is to find a job. I don't really know.
All of my thoughts mentioned above are just that, my thoughts. Since I've solidified many of my career decisions in the past couple of days, I've been thinking about these things more than usual. Your definition of living might be completely different than the next one. Your path to happiness might be different than the next one. We all decide to live our lives in different ways based on our various life circumstances. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. Drop me a line.