To get or not to get… a college degree (It’s either or, so either get rid of those absurd expectations or get this damn college degree)

People (now you’re more likely to refer to them as lunatics) told you not to bother with getting a college degree and now you find it hard to get a job?

And you wish you had listened to your parents instead, and applied to college in order to get that damn college degree (just like most of your high school peers)?

Here’s what went wrong.

I think the advice you received was well-meant, but it’s like your advisors forgot to mention the most important thing.

Following any advice never comes with a guarantee. Something that worked for me will not necessarily work for you.

Nothing in this world will ever convince me that the conventional approach to career building (with all this anxiety we burden our children with, with this ludicrous expectation that people in their early 20s should have their lives sorted out, with this limiting belief that you can have just one career in your life, with this unshaken belief in the power of a college degree, with this conventional meaning of success according to which people who, say, graduated from law school are already successful and everybody goes Wow!, with this limiting belief that what you do in your early 20s/ which college you choose matters the most, with this idea that all people will retire at the same age, with this idea that how much money you make is more important than how you make your money), that this approach is better than the unconventional approach of, say, an artist who (in the eyes of the general public!) can be a “failure” or “weirdo” for most of her adult life and suddenly (in the eyes of the same general public!) turn into “the greatest discovery of a decade or century”.

But, there is a caveat!

If you still have the conventional approach to career building and, at the same time, follow the anti-conventional career building advice, then you’ll be in big trouble.

It’s either or.

EITHER

you go to college to show the people who also subscribe to the conventional model of career building that you can be somebody, that you are ambitious, that you play the same game as they do and that you understand the rules of that game

OR

you decide that you don’t want to play this game (if you’ll go to college it will be for a totally different reason than to get a degree in order to get a job), but it doesn’t mean that you do nothing instead.

You have a huge hunger for learning, you put in the hours, you are willing to try and fail, nothing is below you, you don’t care about guarantees, you work your butt off, you trust your own decisions and don’t ask other people (especially those who follow the conventional route) for directions and advice, you believe in yourself.

If you don’t match/ live up to the image of a person who subscribes to the unconventional model of career building, then you don’t have a prayer and you’d better apply to college ASAP.

This ‘either/or’ distinction is also the most important piece of the jigsaw puzzle which is very often overlooked by those who tell us that college is everything and that the people who tell young people that they can do without a college degree are lunatics.


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Writing is my oxygen. I write every day. About parenting, career life and the challenges of being a young adult.

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