Should Author Hopefuls Attend College?


Happy Monday, everyone!

6881499716_e8f46fa096_zSo I’m doing a slightly different post today. Over the weekend, I read a blog post talking about how college isn’t necessary. In fact, the post went as far to say that college was a waste of time. (The author of the post received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Both from prestigious institutions.)

Though the author provided an exhaustive list of careers options that don’t require a four-year college degree, most of those professions require experience. It seemed that the author expected to graduate with her master’s and immediately get a six-figure salary job, while she was still in her twenties and with very little to no experience in her chosen profession. (And she wasn’t too happy about having student loans.)

At one point, she talked about my choice of bachelor’s degree: a BA in Clinical Psychology, stating that you should only get a BA in Psychology, or any sub-set of psychology, if you’re going to get your PhD and become a professor or practicing psychologist. (She went on to state that if you go to a four-year college, you should choose your major based on the level of salary you can get.)

When I was working on my bachelor’s, I fully intended on earning my PhD, however life happened and my interests changed. Now, I work in pediatric allergy and immunology research, and am considering transferring into HR (all the while finishing my master’s in fiction writing). Perhaps, I’ll end up receiving a PhD…in editing. (Or, even better, become a published novelist, who makes enough money to live off her writing.) I’m not sure yet.

What I am sure of is that without college I wouldn’t have the job I do, and I would have missed out on a ton of life experiences.

If you’re more practical and salary-oriented, think of college like this: with so many people having college degrees, in order to stand out, receiving more advanced degrees is even more important. Having a bachelor’s doesn’t hold the weight it used to. Plus, college is a great way to network, and as I’ve gotten older – and I’m betting this is the same for you – I’ve realized how important social networking is. Most of the time you get a job or a promotion, or really any opportunity, because of the people you know. The smallest acquaintance can open doorways.

As for the author’s list of jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, while it’s true that you can enter those professions either with an associate’s degree or without any degree, most people end up earning their degree or multiple degrees while working and gaining experience. That way they can get promoted or switch careers if they so desire.

I’m not saying everyone should go to college. College isn’t for everyone. There are some people in my family who attempted college and realized it wasn’t their path. I am arguing that college can be very important. College has the potential to help you both immediately and later in life by providing life experiences, broader opportunities, flexibility, and increased chances of promotion. It can also help you get your foot in the door. (I worked in a psychiatric hospital for a year, and while I was applying for the job, though the job requirements stated only a high school degree was required, I discovered that everyone who applied had at least their bachelor’s degree.)

I realize my master’s in fiction writing isn’t the optimal choice for making money, but I don’t regret the program. My writing’s improved, and more importantly, I found a sense of camaraderie and support (and some phenomenal critiques of my writing) that I was looking for. It also doesn’t hurt that I enjoy my master’s because I love to write, and I love being around people who are as passionate about writing as I am.

Sometimes, doing something you love beats out earning potential. After all, we only have one life. Ultimately, it’s up to us to decide what’s important.

What do you think?

(Photo courtesy of Tax Credits.)

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