Should You Go To College?

Monday, December 15, 2014

UCSB Main Gate. Photo Credit:

Now before I let the title of this post scare you, let me explain. I have since graduated from a University (UC Santa Barbara) for going on 4 years now and there are lots of things I have learned not only while in college but also in my years outside of the ivory tower and in the working world that have really shaped my views on the college experience. I would like to share some of those views with you now in case you are someone who is thinking about attending or would just like an honest opinion on my experience.

I participated in a few protests. This one took place in DTLA

To begin with really, I was on track to be someone who attended a university. From Junior High school I was in honors classes, from there into High School I was in Honors and Advanced Placement classes and I had surrounded myself with individuals who were on the college track as well. In fact, I had been in classes with these kids really since grade school because we were all receiving similar scores and ended up with the same teachers. I knew during my school days that I was going to attend a University, I just really hadn't given much thought as to why it was I was going, or even better what it was I was going to study. Like most students (I believe) I went because I was supposed to go and because all sorts of doors and careers were going to open up for me because of it. It didn't matter what I majored in or what I did during college (C's GET DEGREES!) I just knew it was going to advance me to that dream career I had always wanted, though I had no idea what that career was. I remember the crunch time of submitting applications and feeling completely lost because no one in my family had ever gone through this process and everything I did I felt like I was doing it wrong. I felt like my essays were wrong, my scores were wrong and I was just going to have a mental breakdown in those 4-6 months that I waited for a response from all of these schools I applied to. I am proud to say that I was accepted to all of them except for one (they shall remain nameless) and I decided to attend UCSB. It was far enough away from my home to where I could get that "away" feeling, but close enough that I could drive back if I ever got homesick.

Random House Parties

Now for the college experience itself, I could easily write a very lengthy post about it filled with highs and lows but for the sake of keeping this from being a novel I'll say I really enjoyed my college days. I know that my "hermit" personality, insecurities and fear of rejection kept me from going out as often as some of my friends, but even with all of the alone time I got in I still enjoyed many moments. Both experiences with friends and people that I never would have crossed paths with had I not lived in student housing or even went to school. Even though I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood, there's definitely a different vibe when it comes to people who are from out of state, out of the country or even just out of Southern California. I was very enlightened by my experiences with the people that I met and this enrichment has carried on even after college ended, and really this is the point I would like to make about attending a University.

 Vagina Monologues Cast 2010

Vagina Monologues Cast 2011

I participated in the Vagina Monologues for my Junior & Senior Year

I majored in Sociology and was very close to minoring in feminist studies. Once I realized my original major (communication) was not for me, I dove head first in the social sciences and didn't look back. I loved studying SOC and taking classes about feminism, race and class. I love understanding where ideas and concepts came from instead of accepting them to be true and this constant search for the truth and relentlessness to understand the meaning behind things is a trait I carry into my work today. Even though I had to take lots of requirement classes that did not directly relate to my major (I took an entire class about the AIDS virus) I still feel like I was enriched by every class I had taken. Art history, literature, all of them. And I think the moment that I realized that I was learning things about the world that I never would have was when the events and ideas in my classes began over lapping. Something mentioned in my literature class would also be brought up in a sociology class and I remember experiencing this amazing epiphany, like this is why I'm here. I felt like I was finally gaining an understand on how we are all connected and how important it was to know these connections.

One of my best friends, we attend Junior High, High School and graduated college together. 

Now all of this brings me to my advice for you. If you're someone who is thinking about going to college what I will say is you should go because you want to go and because you want to enrich your life and see the world through a lens which you may never have acquired if you didn't go. Bachelor degrees are a dime a dozen now and they do not mean what they used to mean. If you're looking to advance your career and think a degree, ANY degree is the key to doing so, I can say from first hand experience that this is not true. After graduating from UCSB armed with my BA I found that many employers didn't even know where UCSB was. I think at this point they were getting so many applicants with a BA that it didn't really matter where you got it, just that you had it. So in some cases, having one didn't give me any sort of edge it just was a requirement box to check off. I'm a little embarrassed to say it but I have had 6 different jobs since graduating because I was snagging any opportunity that came my way and was looking for a company that I felt appreciated by and could grow with. Ironically the closest thing I have found to this is my current job which is a retail position. This is another thing that I feel was failed to be mentioned at my University, not all of us are going to go off and get Phds and be professors. Some of us want to claim a place in the working world and could use some advice on how to do so. I WISH I would have taken a retail position more seriously in college because had I done so I may have been much higher up than I am now, but who knows. I'm happy with the way things are going so no sense in dwelling on what-ifs. I have networked and hustled and cried my way through my post college experience and I am still learning on how to navigate the working world. So don't forget that piece of advice, while you're there, network, network, network! Everyone you meet has the potential to be a valuable connection one day, regardless of what you decide to do.

So if you want to go, go. Go for yourself and for the experience and the people and beauty and maybe even the booze. But if you think this is the only way you can achieve success, think again. For the 2015 freshman year, colleges are receiving their highest number of applicant to date! This means more and more students will be flooding out of college armed with the same degree, if you want to separate yourself from this group you're going to have to ambitious and in many cases an entrepreneur (and you can be both of these things without a degree). One thing that has really helped me decide on what career path to take has been reading self help books. That may sound kind of corny to some of you but I swear putting that positive energy out into the universe has helped me tremendously. My favorite so far has been Choose Yourself by James Altucher. You can buy it here. And that's really all of have to say on this for now. Obviously this is all written from the perspective of a Social Sciences major and STEM majors and Nurses and Doctors will have a totally different outlook but take my advice for what it is worth. Though my "post-college" outcome has been far from perfect it has been a learning experience, and isn't that what it's all about anyway?

UCSB Class of 2011

Post a Comment