Why Traditional College is the Way to Go

By: JaMarlin Fowler


An argument that I have had with friends, family and others has been the type of higher education and whether it is important to go to school traditionally or not.

We are advancing towards a technological age where you will never have to leave the house for anything. This is great, but it removes one of the most important connections, human connections, and replaces them with artificial ones.

I’ve learned through these last 33 years that nothing can replace a human being occupying the same space and time as you. Being present in the moment, knowing that you can listen and respond in real time.

Face to Face human connections are going to become more valuable as we become more advanced as a society. The ability to connect live in the moment with others was the sense of community that made movie theaters the weekend gathering spot before video on demand.

This is true with education as well. Technology can assist, but it cannot lead in the way another human being can. Going to school traditionally allowed me to test myself on a daily basis, where I had to show up. Learning Spanish was a challenge that in hindsight I don’t believe I could have done strictly virtually, attempting to fit in studying a new language between gym, teaching, my actual major and acting classes.

I enjoyed college and do plan on going back to pursue my Ph. D. (and maybe a MFA) once I situate my family. College allows you to challenge yourself by exploring and by being surrounded by those who have accomplished things similar to you. College also humbles you because you meet older people whom have done things that you are still hoping to do.

Taking the tour at UCI and knowing that you are walking on the same paths Nobel Prize winners walked is humbling. Meeting people from all over the world and hearing multiple languages spoken at any given moment in a coffee shop is irreplaceable by a computer terminal.

My belief is you will never know how good you truly are until you put yourself in situations to find out. I had an opportunity cost to pay to go back to college, and unfortunately my family (and specifically my son) had to pay that cost as well.

Showing up instead of logging in is my advice for the most meaningful connections. I will continue to push my son pursue his dreams and education (and to make sure he finishes his education before he has kids) because I want him to go traditionally.

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