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Is college really as important as our society today has made it out to be?

I'm a freshman in high school. My guidance counselors and teachers basically say tell me if I don't go to college my life will be miserable. I want to live a simple life. I have figured it out. I know that may seem weird, but that is what I want. I want to live in a small apartment with not much in it and just enjoy the small things in life. Is college actually necessary to succeed at all in life?

Closing Statement from Colin Petre

Thanks alot for all the replies. It really helped me. I'm probably just going to figure everything out my junior year when it's time to make it.

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    May 12 2013: Is college important? Yes, but maybe not for the reasons that most would think of. I need to preface my comments with this…Life-long learning is the most important.
    Below are just a couple reasons why I believe that college is important:
    1. EXPERIENCE. The experience of college is the learning experience of independence, responsibility and life.
    2. HOW TO LEARN. It isn’t as important to what you learn, or what you study in college. What you get out of going to college is a process on how to learn.
    3. DEGREE. Yes, some professions require that you have a degree or a certificate that proves that you have been exposed to some level of study and achieved some level of proficiency in a particular subject
    4. MEANING & PURPOSE. Through the activities that you do while in college with friendships that you develop will define who you are and what you will become in life. From study group midnight trips to Denny’s (my first born daughter is named after a group partner in college) to drinking parties and getting sick in someone’s yard that you don’t know (still a funny story 20 years later), these will make who you are in the future.
    5. SENTIMENT. Your college life will give you powerful stories to share throughout your life and give you feelings of pride, happiness, regret, and even sadness that you can share with people that will come into your life in the future.

    There are so many reasons why college is important. Everyone will tell you to study hard, learn the subject matter well so that you can get a good job and make higher wages; and this is all true and great advice. But, I say go to college for you, your future, your life. Enjoy the EXPERIENCE and don’t waste the opportunity to learn a life lesson.
  • May 26 2013: College certainly is not as important as our society today "has made it out to be". The hyperbole surrounding higher education is part of a broader societal misconception about human happiness. Even the positive psychology movement, a movement built on the objective of promoting the use of psychological methods to enrich lives and increase happiness, has found in their own studies that happiness is 50% genetic. Given that the movement is ideologically biased against such a finding, my guess is that well more than half of your subjective well-being is based on what mom and dad gave you to work with (genetically-speaking). To me, this suggests that there are, in fact, very few decisions that will dramatically alter your day-to-day mood (other than, say, getting addicted to heroin, where you could chemically damage the very parts of your brain that deal with certain pleasures).

    So, no, going to college won't give you all the answers you're looking for, guarantee a successful adult life, or even ensure you meet the right people to "get ahead". And, in and of itself, college isn't going to make you a happier person. However, depending on what you want, attending college can increase the likelihood of certain positive outcomes: financial freedom and a satisfying career (though there is some debate as to whether this is correlation or causation). These outcomes, while not dramatically transforming your experience for the better, can make life somewhat more meaningful, comfortable, and rewarding.

    The question for you, Colin, is how sure are you that you have "figured it out"? If you really just want to live in an apartment and "enjoy the small things in life" then college would be a waste of your time. However if, for example, you find you want a family then you are going to have to think about how you will support them. Providing well for your family will require money. And college is one way of increasing your chances of having those resources.
    • May 26 2013: I really liked what R N told here. Collin, nothing is necessary to succeed at all. But it can open your mind to new things, new ideas, new reasons, not only to get a job, get paid, get your stuff. Every knowledge given is an oportunity to change your life, our world or even to know that the subject is not good at all.

      Even if you want to live in a small apartment (I'm sure you will love the talks of Graham Hill and the LifeEdited in TED, that man knows how to live in small places!) the knowledge that you will increase in college can change you, and how you can see things, even enjoying small things in a better way.
      Success is not the goal, I guess. It's about how it's done.

      And, of course, respecting your decisions is part of it.
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    Jun 1 2013: Colin, As you say ... your a freshman in high school ... many things will change in your life in the next few years ... your ambitions, desires, wants, needs. What you say you ONLY want now will change believe me.

    The question about is college important in our society etc ... there are options. There are some very good trade schools. There will always be a demand for plumbers, mechanics, and trades people. As I set in the line at my barbers shop yesterday I thought about his life. He cut one head of hair in 10 - 15 minutes at $15 dollars per. So for example he does 6 costumers in one hour and 5 in another hour. By cutting 6 he makes 90 dollars per hour if only 5 he makes $75 per hour. Business wil not always be that great so say over the week he cuts a average of 15 a day for 5 days = 75 @ $15 per customer his weekly salary is $1,125 X 4 = $4500 per month X 12 = $54,000 a year. He has one chair, 2 clippers, 2 siccors, 2 combs and a bottle of barberol all in a 20 X 12 or so room with five chairs for waiting.
    He makes this salary from the day he gets his certificate. Not much invested and little overhead.

    Call a plumber ... sit down when you get the bill. Mechanics get $95 per hour at almost every shop or more and you still pay for parts, etc ...

    Is college bad ... no. The point is that a good craftsman can do well without college.

    We have embraced the idea that a degree is THE measure of sucess. Perhaps we should measure using different standards. Can you be a success in life without a degree .... yes.

    I would advise you to continue your studies as if you were planning to attend college. By doing so you will be prepared if the circumstances or your desires change ... as they might.

    Keep a open mind .... I wish you well. Bob.
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    • May 18 2013: I agree, if you go to college and don't work for education there its a complete waste of time and money.
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    May 16 2013: Let me tell you a little bit about my life, and why I would recommend going to college. I think college, for some people, is just what they are told to do, its what's just supposed to be done. I also believe that it is an amazing place for people who really want the knowledge, aside from earning the credits. It's sort of up to you how useful to you in your life it is. As a high school drop out for 11 years, I never really had a problem getting a job, either I sold myself well, or they were more interested because I had the size and strength to move materials, either way I've had about 2 dozen jobs. Where would I be if I stayed in school. I might not have my daughter and her mother, so I never complain about the path I walked. Aside from that, rotten teeth, consistent consumption of alcohol in the decade that followed my dropping out, general homelessness crashing on couches, wondering why the women I am with are even remotely interested in me, oh yea and the Felony I picked up in my early 20's, for having half of 1 pain killer in my pocket, that will now haunt me forever. I'm doing much better now, basically sober for 4 years, since my daughter was conceived, my future wife is paying for me to have ADHD treatments which might be part of the reason I was unable to succeed in school when I was young, and I'm finally starting to see things clearly. I've never been so interested in learning and research as I am now, particularly astronomy. But I'm a full 12 years behind, my first step is the GED, something I could have completed a long time ago. Since I stay home with my daughter while her mother works and attends college courses, like superwoman, I'm looking at maybe, 2-3 years before I can get a day job and get things moving. I would recommend going to college as soon as possible, you might acquire a taste for knowledge later on in life, and you wont be over a decade behind, with no real answer as to when you can go, with all kinds of obstacles to overcome
  • May 7 2013: I am a college student now, and I can say if it weren't for the constant issues with financial aid and the anxiety of paying student loans, I would have enjoyed it more. I have one semester left, and I have turned to the thought of living a simple life, I want a farm and some chickens, and be a vegetarian, but this is because of what I learned so far in school. If I didn't attend school and be opened up to so many enlightened professors, colleagues, student orgs that I have been exposed to, I probably would still be the close minded person I was prior to this experience.
    I say go to school for the experience and because you want to learn something, and don't expect anything else. Simply because everything else isn't guaranteed, unfortunately the awesome salary, the jobs banging down your door, none of it happens to everybody. And lately it has been happening to less and less people.
    I love learning, but this will probably be the only degree I earn unless I win the lottery. I will be self teaching for a while, which is a love of mine anyway. My advice is don't rush college, if you can't afford to graduate in four years, don't stress it. These student loans are loads and loads of malarchy to keep you financially crippled. It makes it hard to gain ownership of many things in the future. So steer away from those
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      May 7 2013: "If I didn't attend school and be opened up to so many enlightened professors, colleagues, student orgs that I have been exposed to, I probably would still be the close minded person I was prior to this experience."

      This is a great testimonial.
  • Jun 3 2013: it is important because it has become society's norm. getting a degree opens you to a lot of jobs.

    college is a good investment even though you might feel that you're spending too much for years but then, what you earn from that title or degree is fourfold.
  • May 22 2013: I'm 21 and I'm in college right now, and I can tell you that it's important. I had the same mentality that you have when I was a freshman. It's possible to do it without college, but to be honest, it really helps to go. Don't just focus on the knowledge you get in books bro don't forget about what high school teaches you about life. It's the same thing for college, sure you get a diploma and learn stuff form books, but what's important is what college teaches you about life.

    Go to college if you get a chance to, you will meet a lot of different people from different places and learn a lot about life in the end.
  • May 18 2013: Is ignorance bliss? It might be. I don't mean "ignorance" in terms of education but rather an ignorance of choice. How aware are you of the almost limitless possibilities that life has to offer? Can you remain in blissful ignorance for a lifetime? There is something very appealing in that prospect. The breadth of choice that we have today is a a primary source of a generalized dissatisfaction which appears to infect a large portion of humanity.

    Reality seems to be that life is complex whether you want it to be simple or not. A broad educational experience, whether in a formal college setting or in a self-designed exploration provides you with a greater potential to adapt as the complexity of life closes in on you.

    Thoreau experimented with the simple life and it was very productive for him. Ultimately though, he left; "I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one." Make sure you have the ability to escape that small apartment if it turns into a prison cell.
  • May 8 2013: Hi Colin,

    I think if we were in another time, the answer would be no, it isn't necessary to go to college to be successful. But today, in order for people to obtain the jobs they want, they need to be able to verify that they have the basic skills to succeed, and a college education usually certifies that. That being said, college is a time and money cost, and you need to make sure that your return on education (ROE) is high enough to warrant going to college. That means getting as much as you possibly can out of your education.

    That being said, in all honesty, I loved (and miss) going to college. I would not have found the profession or interests I have now without college, and I certainly would not have developed a mature enough state of mind to handle working in an office without going to college. Not only that, but outside of the financial and career reasons for going to college, you have the potential to meet inspirational people, new connections, and really expand your view of the world in a vast number of ways. Sometimes, it takes understanding the bigger world in order to more greatly appreciate the smaller things in life.
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    May 6 2013: This may sound cliche, but I think its only as necessary as you make it out to be. Society puts a lot of emphasis on higher education, but there is not enough on quality education where students are getting useful information.

    As Sir Ken says (and I'm paraphrasing), we don't need to reform education as much as we need to transform education.
  • May 31 2013: Very astute and to the point, you sound as if you have already been to college. My time at college was wasted, I didn't want to be there, and they had nothing I wanted to learn. I have however, never stopped learning. Some disciplines I have taken classes for, others I have learned on my own through books and trial and error. Learning to be happy with very little is one of the hardest lessons to learn, and if you can keep positive thoughts going, your life will happier than most, which is how success should be judged.
  • May 30 2013: College education (and any other formal education) is more than the lectures and the lessons that we need to study. It is also interaction and building relationships. It is learning as much as we can from our experience during that process of education. So yes, it is quite important. I believe that it is, not because it's the key to success, but because the education, for one thing, will mold our character. The education will also give us perspective or challenge our beliefs, and this is important because the set of values and beliefs that we have account for the decisions we make as individuals.

    It's also worth noting that success varies from person to person. My definition of success might not be the same as yours. And perhaps college does help us become successful in the career paths that we choose, but I don't think that college exists solely for that purpose because a huge percentage of what we learn in college will not be used when we will actually be working for a living.

    I'm having the pleasure to be in college and with that, be in a learning community. The education is enriching my life and expanding my horizons, and exposing me to different kinds of experiences. I believe that the education is very much worth it.

    "The gift and challenge of your education is to see others as they see themselves, to grapple with this mean and crazy and beautiful world in all its baffling complexity." - John Green
  • May 29 2013: Well, I'd say it depends. College is good. having as high an educational background would serve you well in today's competitive job market. Does it directly reflect our careers? Not exactly, some people go to a college get their degrees and masters done and end up working in an entirely different career path from what they majored in college. Some simply do not require a college education but their wit and smart ideas help them become self employed, or become entrepreneurs.
    What you may want today might not be what you want in the future. From my experience , especially as a person who has not had the chance to go to college, I'd say when it comes down to living in the real world it all comes down to diligence, and dedication, Commitment. You do not necessary learn to live or survive in this world or even at your work simply by going to college. It is merely how well you take opportunities, learn from your mistakes and learn from the environment around you and the situations you are in. Not having a college education might not make things easier to succeed in life, but it does not really make you any less qualified or talented or any less important than a college graduate.
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    May 26 2013: First,there are several levels of colleges. Some knowledge you gain in college are indispensable in your chosen career. What makes colleges unique is they provide opportunities that you cannot get else where,for instance,a social project confined in colleges,a lecture presented by a scientist,etc. Moreover,studying,living in college, help you broaden your mind,you make friends whose mindsets are different. whether you attend a college or not, a mind longing for knowledge is the key to create and seize opportunity,because either way,in the real world knowledge is power.
  • May 26 2013: First and foremost decide what you want or need to improve yourself. I am 24 and a graduate with a bachelors in biology. I was lucky in that i always knew what i wanted to do so i entered college immediately. Have a goal in mind first. Dont take thousands in student loans without a goal first. Learn for the enjoyment of learning. You can do this by taking one or two classes at a college if you dont know what you want to do yet you can also do it by working. I have found more learning experience from work than i ever did from school until i started veterinary college last fall. I will tell you education is important. There are so many classes i took that i will always appreciate having. (Literature, us history, criminal justice, philosophy). Classes with more opinion and more applicable knowledge about how our country works. These classes didnt get me to veterinary school but they made me a better person. I do not regret my college experience but i also loved working full time and taking my time to graduate (5 years)
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    May 25 2013: The sooner you learn to really listen and trust your inner guide, the better off in life you will be. Following the same path that the majority take (high school, college, job, marriage, baby etc) is not the right path for everyone - which is why so many adults are unhappy and not fulfilled. Yes, college can provide you with knowledge and a skill set for a job but you have the opportunity to completely design your own life - which is exciting! Make a list of the things that make you happy and find different ways to make money from them. Set your goals on what you want and focus on achieving them. Your goals will change over the years - but being able to focus on them to achieve what you want will be a skill set you have for life.
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    May 19 2013: If success means to be successful in job market and climb higher up then it is still important. Not only that but also from which college one is having the degree counts a lot .
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    May 14 2013: As one who has started the highest level of university study (Ed.D) it may sound slightly hypocritical to say it is not that important. Often we don't know what we want to do when we grow up. Research in Australia shows that @ 25% leave uni before finishing and another @ 25% never work in their field of study.

    Is it necessary? Bill Gates, Richard Branson did have any and they are doing okay; but they are an exception.

    I think what university or any formal study will give you is a broadened horizon. Cliché I know, but as one who has been on this journey as a part-time student since 2004, I am so much better for it. If you treated study as a journey rather than a destination, you will always get something out of it.

    There is research around that demonstrates the value of college/university; but it is not for everyone. My question to you is where do you see yourself in 10, 20, 30 years time. Married? Children? If so, you may glad for the income a college/uni degree will give you.

    I am not sure what year 'freshman' is, as we in Australia do not have that, but - not wanting to sound old - you may not have it all figured out. Life is great at throwing curve balls. If you are young, then my advice is don't stress about it - yet!
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        May 15 2013: Hi Lee

        Thanks for the information, most helpful Our high school years are 7 to 12 (ages 12/13 - 17/18). So Colin would be bang in the middle of our system.
  • May 14 2013: I think college is useful depending on the lifestyle you want for yourself. Follow the topics that you are curios about. Follow your interests. College makes it easier to live certain lifestyles, and guessing by the fact that you watch TED talks you have intellectual interests. Follow your heart, you can live a simple life with an education. College is a different experience for everyone, but I would recommend going after your dreams, major in what you love. It is sad to see so many people letting go of them to be practical to have money and more material goods. Do what will make you most happy long term.

    I'm graduating college this coming weekend. It has been such a worthwhile experience for me. I learned a lot, met great like-minded people and learned things in subjects I probably wouldn't have sought out otherwise. That said, I don't think it is a requirement for success.
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    May 13 2013: Unless you're going into a field that will give you a good chance of finding a job that pays enough to pay off your loans quickly, go on scholarship or have money to blow, college isn't necessary or a good idea. This is coming from someone who just graduated with two bachelor's degrees on Saturday and is going to graduate school in the fall.
    An "education" at a traditional four-year school is just far to expensive unless you plan on doing something where the job states, "bachelor's degree required". Furthermore, most of education these days is a passive experience, with the professors giving you information and you memorizing it and spitting it back out on an exam for four years. They tell you what to think, but few teach you how to think. I think you'd be much better off working full time, saving up money and educating yourself by taking free classes of of iTunesU or Coursera.
    My advice is to get creative. If you like engineering, take some free calculus and physics courses. Buy some used text books. Do some experiments on the weekends. Design something. All the information you need is out there, you just have to find it and figure out how to apply it. If after a couple years of this, you decided to want to work professionally in a field and want to go to a university, you already have a great resume and grants and scholarships are far more likely to come your way.
  • May 13 2013: Oh yeah and check out coursera.org before attending any classes to predetermine your interest and dedication level,before spending thousands of dollars only to discover you are better pursuing something else. Really broad selection of interests and courses, all of which are free. All classes are online and set up like regular college courses.

    I have taken three courses already and they are fun. The first was on environmental sustainability from the Uni of Illinois, the second was an astrobiology course from the Uni of Edinburgh, and the one I am currently taking is an introduction to guitar through the Berkley School Of Music. All the smarter, and I do believe the future of education will be delivered this way.
  • May 10 2013: Whether you choose to go to college or not I do encourage you to keep your mind healthy and fit. Living a simple life could be just right for this.

    Many who do go to college are frequently engaged in things for which they have little interest, or are investing a lot of time and money for a program in which they are giving a very half-hearted effort. I find these phenomena wasteful and unnecessary.

    One thing that college could offer in terms of learning, more efficiently than trying to learn it on your own, would be various technical, scientific, or technological skills that require expensive equipment. And if your areas of interest require interacting with peers doing similar things, then colleges can often be a good environment (though not necessarily the only environment) to find this (e.g. musical performance, foreign languages, etc.)

    One problem about not going to college is that it has become a common societal demand for people to have college degrees as a condition for acceptance in a wide variety of occupations. So not having a degree could restrict employment choices in the future. But provided you keep your mind healthy and active, I guess you could always go back to school to get a degree later in life, if you so chose.
  • May 9 2013: I recently graduated from college December of 2012 and I can honestly say that overall it was worth my time. What made it worth my while wasn't the school, but my professors and staff that made it worth my while. A word of advice, I would look into a school, try it out for the first semester, or year and if you feel that the teachers, and overall campus isn't for you, then take that as a sign and leave before you are forced into a 4 year commitment that you aren't commited to. Also, you have to go to college for the right reason, which is education, yes you can still go to parties, however don't let the social life be the only reason you want to go. College isn't for everyone, and remember some of the smartest, most successful individuals who have made great contributions to society never graduated from college, or even liked going to school for that matter.

    Best of luck to you and your endeavors!
  • May 9 2013: When I was a junior in High school, I told my mom, "If I go to college right out of high school, it'll be a waste of my time and your money." I was sick of going to school. Instead, I joined the military (and do not recommend it).
    Afterwards, it took me 13 years to get a 4-year degree. But I did it because I WANTED it.
    Looking back, I wouldn't change anything, because then I wouldn't be where I'm at now, which is pretty darn happy.

    A couple hints:
    1. You get better financial aid after 25 or marriage because then your parents' income doesn't count.
    2. You might think that math isn't important. Bullsh**. Get through trigonometry at a minimum. Sines, cosines, and the pythagorean theorem are VITAL in anything where you build stuff or work with electricity.
    3. If you get into drugs, STAY AWAY FROM THE POWDERS!!!
    4. Not everybody gets to go to college. There are a lot of people that have to WORK for a living. If you are one of them, take care of your body, because it's the most important tool in your toolbox. Also, manual labor can be very enlightening.
    5. When you leave school, don't stop learning. Read. Take online classes, or continuing education classes, or online classes, art classes. Learn to meditate.
    6. Learn about what goes into your food. If you see ads for it on TV, it's usually bad for you.
    7. Leave your home town. Get out and see part of the country at least. Go visit another country if you can. Maybe not right away, but do it before you're somebody's father.
    8. Read the wikipedia entry for "credential inflation".
    9. Winning the lottery is not a sound financial plan. It's a tax on people that are bad at math.

    Anyway, it's bed time.
    Good luck Colin.
  • May 7 2013: Wow look at the student loans out there. You may end up a slave.
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    May 7 2013: Education is quite important, but going to college simply for the sake of obtaining a degree without due consideration as to what practical application that degree with have to your career can have some serious ramifications. The cost of education has become exceedingly high in some places, and many young people have made the mistake of taking out expensive student loans for degrees that provide no additional job options, and no tangible benefits.

    As to whether or not college is necessary to "succeed" in life, the answer to this is highly subjective and determined by how the individual defines success. Being educated can definitely make certain career choices easier, since it serves as a sort of "proof of experience". However, I have known a few people who were able to get jobs that traditionally require a degree by demonstrating a skill set that they learned independently.

    Your personal goals will dictate what level of education is appropriate for you, but I urge you to keep your options open and consider that what you want in the future may not be the same as what you think you want from life now. Best wishes to you.
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    May 6 2013: College is more important than ever in America. In order for a company to increase their chances of hiring someone who can read and write they require a college degree because it is possible to graduate secondary school without those basic skills. We are being dumbed-down folks!
    • May 13 2013: Now now Mr. Ed. You are being to simplistic yet again. Where do Jobs and Gates fit into your equation. Being dumbed down is a choice. Awareness and self education is where it is for this generation, not being told to blindly believe in things that are irrelevant or do not apply to the real world we now occupy.

      Our education system is designed to create more educators. The system is broken and needs to be raised and reassembled. The generation you grew up with taught you the three 'R's' which only one started with an 'R' in the first place, and taught to memory not ability and strengths.

      Do you really think college is that important? Do you get out in the real world much Mr. Ed? It's the system that allows a student to graduate secondary school without the skillets to succeed.
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        May 13 2013: Very astute, Mr. Middaugh.From simple minds come simplistic thoughts. (Why do you say "again", have I been simplistic with you before?). Do Steve and Bill prove that one cannot graduate high school with less than full literacy? My point about dumbing-down is that a high school diploma once was a guarantee that the holder could read, write, and do everyday math. Your suggestion that being dumb-downed is a free-will choice made by the victims is not at all convincing. You are speaking of the specific shortcomings of the education system which is not the subject of this debate, so let's stay on-topic. And, finally, no, I do not get out into the real world much. I get most of my stimulation and motivation from the sages of TED Conversations. By the way, the "Three R's are: Reading; Right use of written communication; and Right application of math operations. . . that's three "R's". :-D
        • May 13 2013: Duh. You are brilliant. Whether or not college is important is the question, and your take is that it is. I think you are wrong with your typical blanket statement that it is. You are wrong.

          Only one starts with an R, you miss the point.
          You should get out more. Start by a new pair of glasses you self righteous shit.
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    May 6 2013: I agree with Henry that you should be thinking now in terms of keeping your options open rather than tracking yourself prematurely on a course from which you would later find it very difficult to diverge. If you keep your options open by taking the coursework that would make you college eligible, you always have the option later of not going or of deferring that decision.

    There are also different kinds of colleges and vocational programs you might consider. Perhaps when you are eighteen you will decide you don't want to go to a four year college but do want t get a certificate at a community college or trade school. Perhaps you will decide that, regardless of where you want to live, you have discovered a subject that you would like to delve into deeply, with experts in it at hand to talk with you about it, answer your questions, and maybe mentor you.

    I think fifteen is very young to close doors or make doors extremely challenging to pry back open.
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    May 6 2013: Yes it is. You want a simple life now. Don't make decisions that future Colin may hate you for. I would remain open minded
    at the very least.
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    Jun 6 2013: Colin, as a rising college junior, I'm going to do my best to talk about this without talking about job markets or societal norms or anything.

    First of all, while you think you "have it all figured out" now, you probably don't. Plans definitely change, just ask any college student who's changed their major. You want a simple life, and I applaud you for that, but something to think about it how you're going to achieve it. It also depends on how you define success. Would you find success only in achieving the life you desire after high school? In other words, is what you will have gained in high school enough?

    Perhaps, perhaps not. As decisions go, this isn't really one that should make you lose sleep at this point. But I would argue that college (of any kind, not just a four year bachelor's degree kind) will help you discover another dimension of yourself that you didn't know you had. And it could range anywhere from "Ooh, I enjoy drawing things. I didn't know that," to "Wow, I actually have quite an interest in Pre-Revolutionary France." Nothing is off limits. (I myself learned how to skateboard)

    I think that college (at least in the United States) is frightening because it represents mainly student loans and crushing monotony, being forced to make decisions that will pave the road of the rest of your existence. However, I encourage you to look at it in another light. Perhaps instead of only receiving a little piece of paper at the end of your four years that says "I AM NOW QUALIFIED TO DO THE THING," you can look at it as a sum total of experiences that you would never have anticipated, but wouldn't gig up for all the student loans (or lack there of) in the world.

    And a little piece of paper that tells your qualifications. That'll be nice too.
  • Jun 3 2013: EDUCATION is important at every level. Unfortunately, some College has become TRAINING - necessary for immediate success but insufficient to carry students over time.
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    Jun 3 2013: Education is important, college not so much. Even thought I was a 9th grade drop out I was able to find my niche in computer programming and had a very successful career for a large bank. The college friends I have do things by the book and seem to me to lack creativity. I was lucky though, I had very analytical mind that fit well with what was then an emerging industry that college did not train people for at that time (1972).
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      Jun 6 2013: Although I applaud you for your success, I do not believe it applies to this era anymore. The circumstances are different from the 1970s. Nowadays, everyone is educated and trained in every single skills possible. Globalization and increase in population creates intense competition. Unless one is under special circumstances, like to continue family farming business, etc., we can not avoid the competition.
  • Jun 1 2013: I commend your simple life goals, but college does more than prepare you for a job. It opens your mind to other cultures and ideas that may spur you to be innovative and support to be able to act on your goals. It offers different views from people who are not like you and offers them the richness of your being. You don't need structure to learn, but you do need structure to open your mind to hear what others have to say and to get others to see and hear you.
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    Jun 1 2013: I think the education is important but most of these degrees you get in college you could attain throughout high school. Kids today are learning CALCULUS in high school and using programs like Auto CAD to design things. To my knowledge this didn't happen in high school in the 80's, for example, due to technology and other factors that have since changed. Lets say I'm 15 again and i choose to be an engineer because i have a passion for creation and machines. Right then I could start with lessons making me the best engineer i could be. Viola! What would be a flaw besides someone choosing to change what they want to do or job loss due to economic issues? Of course plain old failure is also possible but you're still in your teen years, you have plenty of time to become skilled at something else. Looking forward to feedback!!!
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    Jun 1 2013: Even though many people question whether to attend college or just try to find a good paying job, most studies indicate it still does pay off to obtain a degree. A degree may cost a lot, but it gives you access to higher-paying jobs when you graduate. A college degree ensures you’re competitive against others at your experience level.
  • May 30 2013: Go to college if you know what you want and know you have the talents and real desire to persue that dream. Do not go to college if you are totally clueless about some kind of future direction you want to take with your life. If you enter a college and drift from major to major, all the while wasting time and money, you will regret your decision. If you don't have an absolute passion for what you are going to school for and don't want to turn it into a life then college may not be your best bet. A trade school or just finding a job might be the best alternative. Who knows, simple beginnings can lead to greater things.
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    May 30 2013: Colin, LUCKY YOU to have learned the point of life so young

    Education is important, but formal schooling is not the only way to gain an education. Libraries are free, and so is TED (subject to power and internet access). To be honest, everything around you is a potential learning experience. Learning how to grow your own food, appreciate nature, how to be a good neighbour or friend, maintaining an interest in local politics, are all things you can do if you're not lumbered with a full time job. If you're honest, kind and reliable people will give you work on an ad hoc basis. You can earn money by doing odd jobs as you need - seasonal work or temp jobs. As soon as you get board or stressed - leave.

    Trades are also under-rated by the education system. But, what good is an academic degree if you can't change a plug or need a plumber. Get a trade. Get more than one trade - today, you do need more than one string to your bow!

    You already know the secret - keep your life simple. Don't sign up to $50 per month deals for mobile phones or cable packages. You don't need a new car, or designer clothes. Keep your basic costs low and don't get locked into contracts that will keep you a slave to your boss.

    Jobs are over rated anyway. You spend years getting qualified, and there's no guarantee you won't find yourself working for a psycho boss who'll end up destroying your career prospects and your mental health.

    I found I was tired of education by the time I was 17 / 18. You can return to education later in life if you find something you need qualifications for. I didn't go to university until I was 26, and there were many students much older than me - even past retirement age! Learning is fantastic at any age - formal education is not as important as it's made out to be. So long as you have the basics of maths and English (or other language) you can get by just fine.

    Borrow a copy of The Freedom Manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson - you'll love it.
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    May 29 2013: Hi Coline, alll the best

    Aquire skills to become a king and choose to live like pauper.

    Colin there was a time when i used to think exactly how you are feeling now.

    My advice to you is that you should go to college , aquire the skills to make it big in life and than choose to live in small apartment and enjoy little things in life.
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    May 28 2013: What you want today may not necessarily be what you want in 4 years. Your ideas/wants/needs are always changing. However, if you don't want to go to college then absolutely do not go to college. You will just be wasting time and money. When I graduated high school I had the mindset that college was what everyone expected me to do and what I "needed" to do right after high school. I did not think it through. I was undeclared going to an expensive university (University of Oregon.) I ended up going to a community college the next three years after the first year at UofO. Withdrew from so many classes and wasted so much money. I finally declared a major 4 years later and here I am in my 6th year of college about ready to graduate from UofO with only a bachelor's degree. What I can say is that I feel that college was worth it for me, but I should NOT have gone right after high school until I had a set plan and had the drive.

    There are millions of young students out there that have the drive right after high school that end up going to college and doing amazing things. I have so many successful friends who make more than 100k a year that never went to college. These people just had the drive to do something different. If a simple life is what you want then go for it. However, just keep in mind what I said before, everyone's interests change and you may be living a life later on that you do not want because you did not prepare.
  • May 28 2013: I agree the statement that everyone should go to college is not really true. there are a group that does not need college for what they want to do in life. there is also a group that does not have the aptitude for college. for many, college is needed to not only to acquire knowledge but to learn to learn, think, problem solve, etc.

    I talked to many people and several stated they did not learn to think until grad school.
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    May 25 2013: Myth #1: American Colleges are the Best in the World. Selingo says the U.S. now ranks 14th in the world in higher education. In his book he writes, “American higher education has lost its way…costs are spiraling out of control and quality is declining, just as increasing international competition demands that higher education be more productive and less expensive.”
    Myth #2: You Get What You Pay For. Not true, says Selingo. In his book he cites a study comparing the annual cost to attend the University of Pennsylvania ($43,738) to the annual cost for Penn State ($16,444) and concludes: “While there were some differences in the average starting salaries and mid-career salaries, there is virtually no significant difference between the lifetime earnings of each group of graduates.” Selingo also tells the panelists on our special Generation I.O.U. show, “Sometimes some people go to very expensive private colleges thinking that the cost of a college equals quality but we actually have no idea what a quality education really means because we really have no true measure of that.”
    Myth #3: Most Students Graduate in Four Years. Fewer than 40% of students graduate within four years, according to The Chronicle of Education, and 58% of students graduate in six years. Many students don’t even graduate college, Selingo says, but they still have lots of debt to pay off. “You’re no better than a high school student,” he argues.
    Myth #4: Majors Determine Your Future. False, according to Selingo. “In some industries, majors matter to the job (take engineering, as an example). But overall, I have found by talking to employers and educators that what they want most in their workers is the ability to learn how to learn….the capability to find the answers to the questions of tomorrow that we cannot envision asking today," Selingo writes.
    Myth #5. Community College is For Losers.

    See more here: http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/five-college-myths-122820482.html
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      May 26 2013: I notice that Selingo DOES claim that America has the best colleges in the world (he mentions colleges such as Duke and Cornell, so not just the biggest names in higher ed). It is just that we have so many colleges that we also have lots of poor ones that bring down the average. So when we talk about the value of college, as William Bennett and Clay Shirky would also say, it depends on which colleges.

      In your Myth #3, in the televised interview he actually said, if you listen closely, that if you go to college but don't attend long enough to graduate, "you are -sometimes- no better than a high school student." I believe he means in terms of how employers look at your eligibility for jobs, but that word "sometimes" is quite interesting. I expect too that colleges vary in how likely they are to admit and enroll those who are unlikely to graduate. Those considering college can typically find out what proportion of those admitted to a particular college graduate within four years.

      I also think one needs to look closely at figures about whether people graduate in more than five years, because it is not necessarily a bad thing to choose to take those extra courses and get those extra experiences. A close friend of mine who is a professor at MIT took a year off do do laboratory research and so graduated in five years. Some of the top students at the University of Washington choose to go longer to pursue double majors and some schools offer a combined BA/MA in a five or six year program. Student athletes may have five years of eligibility and choose to stay five years. Some students change majors and so take five years if the major to which they switched does not overlap much.i It can be a productive decision for them.

      I think Selingo's observation about majors is not definitive and contradicted by other people's similar inquiries. I have read more authors who disagree with that, saying that some majors are much more useful in terms of career opportunities than others.
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      May 30 2013: He makes good points.

      He does not mention the profound wisdom that it is who you know not what you know. A degree from an Ivy league School or USC or Stanford is going to get you contacts that are world shakers. Or is that myth also?
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        May 30 2013: I don't know whether this addresses your question, but in addition to what the student learns through the offerings of the college and his own efforts to make the most of those, there are situations in which recommendations are important. In particular, the credibility of the recommender can be extremely important. When the Stanford professor recommends someone as, say, one of the five most ingenious people he has had working in his lab in the last x years, that might mean more, depending on the potential employer, than the same sort of claim from, say, the high school biology teacher.

        This mechanism works well for students who actually distinguish themselves. Not so much for students who just went and sat there.

        A somewhat different factor is that recruiters are more likely to go in force where they think the stars will be. But once the interview begins, it is what you offer that determines whether the opportunity converts to an offer.

        In terms of connections, the people I know who have gotten jobs through connections (like someone knowing the employer) have gotten them through family and community connections rather than through school connections. But that is only anecdote.
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          May 30 2013: Someone I know got a degree in industrial design from Stanford. I have worked with a few industrial designers in the past they appear to make ok money but not what would appear to be lucrative. Yet he does extremely well in the same field. I know anecdotal but I have seen similar phenomena from USC graduates.
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        May 30 2013: Stanford used to be a real standout in that field some decades back. They may still be well known for the inventiveness of their graduates.

        In my youth and yours, USC had a reputation, certainly, for excellent connection to local business specifically for students inclined in that direction. I do not know whether that continues to be true.

        In terms of your question, though, I don't think we could place these situations in the "who you know" category, as the reason for the expedited pathway may be that the employer knows what having Mr. X's seal of approval means in terms of competency.

        As an example, I have recommended former students for things. People who know me know that my evaluation will be related to actual competency rather than to friendship or a pretty face.
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          May 30 2013: My take is still towards the prior. As in the job market people are looking for people they can trust and who they like. The better route to a job is though who you know, than sending out resumes.
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        May 30 2013: Yes, this has long been true, that sending out resumes stranger to stranger is a low probability strategy.
  • May 25 2013: Not necessary, but plan very carefully. Remember insurance, savings, investments and retirement. (Actually everybody should remember insurance, savings, investments, and retirement.)
  • May 25 2013: Yes,I think so.In my college's life,I did not only learn a lot of professional knowledge but also made one good friend in my life.That was such a happy time in my life.
  • May 24 2013: Colin, -- Never forget the word 'Ambition'. It takes but one first step.

    It is great that you are seeking answers at the 'Starting Point',
    and not at the 'Finish Line'.

    Teachers and counselors 'want you' to 'want to become' educated.
    They know that once you have tasted the driving force of 'Ambition',
    the joys found in higher learning can be without boundaries.

    An example --
    Einstein worked 7 years for a Patent Office, reading Patent Applications.
    He discovered a world of ideas. After becoming a well known university
    professor and speaker, he went on to live a life of scientific discovery.
    Never was he required, nor forced into his life. He choose it.
    He was not a wealthy man, but he was considered wise.

    You've not yet reached his level, but you might. The future is yours.
    ===

    As a much younger person, I am sure adults spoke to you,
    asking, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
    Your answers then most likely are different from today's.
    As tomorrow's answers will differ from...

    Your brain needs time to listen, absorb, mull over, sort-out,
    and judge, before it can come to a conclusion and store
    the opinions it favors.
  • May 19 2013: I don't think it's "necessary" if you are a self driven entrepreneur. However, not many people fit that profile. I am college educated, but did not use my college degrees in my career as the owner of a vacation rental company in Orange Beach. I would never tell my kids that though ! Ha !
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    May 19 2013: I'd say, first, decide where you want to get and then find out how to get there.
    May be, you are already where you want to be (congratulations).
    May be, you can walk there.
    May be, you can get there by a bicycle.
    May be, you need a car or a train.
    May be, you need an airplane.
    May be, you want to get to Mars. Then you need a spaceship.
    And perhaps, nobody ever was where you want to go or the destination does not even exist. So, you invent your own destination and the way to get there.

    But make sure you don't board the wrong flight just because someone tells you so, just to find yourself somewhere you don't want to be. Deciding where YOU want to go is #1. If not destination, then, at least, direction. If you don't you will never be where you want. If you don't, you will be driven by winds and waves and pushed by various people and circumstances in various directions.

    Know yourself. Find out what makes you "tick". Is there something that you could do all day or talk about for hours? That's your passion. Follow it while you can.

    Living a simple life in a small apartment does not sound like a passion. It's a lifestyle. It's unrelated to your passion. Simple life style will make you free to do what you want or not to do anything if you choose. Once you get cars, mortgages, and children, you won't have such luxury. If you want those things, then getting a college education and a job with decent salary is a good idea. There is a stereotype in this society that getting a house, a car, a job, and a (heterosexual) family with children constitutes a "good life". But it's just a stereotype. You need to decide what makes up a good life for you.

    People who sell cars will tell you that you need one.
    People who sell airplane tickets will tell you that you need to buy one.
    People who sell education will tell you that you need one.

    You decide if you need those things. Not going anywhere is also a decision.
  • May 18 2013: College is flawed in many ways, but people who start businesses still view college as the easy measuring stick for them. Don't assume that just going to any college will guaranty a good job. Lots of people knock themselves out and put themselves in debt just to find that the school they went to is enough to damn them. Right now there is no alternative--there should be, if I win Powerball tonight their may be. 600 Million will get me taken seriously. The old college means everything has some heart-breaking holes in it. You need to get into a top school, get top marks, kiss tushy to get a mentor, then get doors opened to you by the elite. To me that's the way of the 1% and 99% where community college people are treated no better than high-schoolers. What society needs is an alternative that does more for less, is not a crap shoot based on who you know and provides such a radically better way to encompass business econ-systems that they engineer their occupations. Notice I didn't say "jobs". Jobs are a thing of the past--or just a gig you do to get by. There are so many flaws in the current world economy that with real "intelligence" a break-away educational franchise can lead people to create "occupations" that no one knows yet if they'll turn into life long jobs. All we know is there are needs which need precedents and a way to make the results dynamically actionable to a new culture of achievers who instead of hiding their work, lead a "raid economy" of people in flux who can substantiate their impact and earn a percentage. The lecture should go back to being a paid-for entertainment for people to have a social life around, and not a captive audience of passive prisoners trying to keep up or suffer consequences.
  • May 17 2013: Find your Joy in life and pursue it with everything you have. Find those who do what you want to do and model what it takes to do it. If that means college then do that. If it means mentorship do that. If you are happy in life all will be welll especially if you are happy with your work, then it will not seem to be work but life.

    If you wake up some day and dread going to work....GET OUT!!!!
  • May 16 2013: I personally think its something new. I've lived the same life for a long time. You may think you have it figured out but that can easily change when your brain matures. When you reach an emerging adulthood your views start to change. College gives you another experience and another perspective. Its not necessary to succeed in life because there are many high paying blue color jobs that pay alot. On a personal level I want to be a psychologist because following my strengths makes me happy. I know the means to attain this is college. If you find your own means of how you want to spend your life then by all means go ahead. If it doesn't require college then do what your heart desires. If you're happy in life, you've succeeded.
    • Comment deleted

      • May 19 2013: Keith,
        You've won the HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.
        Thank you.
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    May 16 2013: yes it is important in developing good approach in students at early age ........so that they can move in society with good manners
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    May 15 2013: I am going to say it is very important for the procrastinators. For one, high schools barely skim the surface when it comes to subjects and careers. Most students still do not care, or just have a lot more things going on in their lives. It's free and generic. College on the other hand, is not free and takes more focus. The longer you go to college the deeper you will find yourself in your researches. It sort of pinpoints to an exact and specific career. For example, maybe in public school you wanted to be a scientist. Well now in college you want to be a marine biologist. Both are scientists but you have specified more precisely. Now back to the procrastinator thing. Everything you learn in college, you can teach yourself. Why people have this urge to pay people to make them take tests, and sit in classrooms, bewilders me. If you devote yourself to an insatiable thirst for knowledge, you will learn so much more than sitting in the classroom listening to someone else explain it.
    "Those that cant do, teach"
  • May 14 2013: University is most definitely overrated to some degree. If you know what you want to do, find a technical/vocational school that will get you into whatever industry/work you'd like. University's primary utility in this day and age is networking opportunities which are highly merit or relationship based. However you do also get the opportunity to take classes in other things to develop 'well-roundedness' which some people value. You can always develop 'well-roundedness' on your own but university offers the opportunity alongside a bunch of other kids your age. So either way, going to 4-year college or not, I think you'll be fine. Just make sure you gain relevant experience for your desired employers, especially throughout college years, otherwise you could get screwed after graduating dealing with loan debt or just feeling left behind. If there's a will there's a way, usually.
  • May 14 2013: Being a qualified person is one thing and having the paper that proves it is another. Just as having a paper that says your are qualified for something is one thing and really being qualified is another. The kind of job you want to do and the environment on which you want to do it are the key factors that determine whether college is mandatory, a nice to have or a waste of time and money.
  • May 14 2013: personally I think college/university is a bit overrated. I work at a power plant and we have issues with engineers who have only done the schooling without doing the labour they are designing for. I think the far more important thing is to have the insight into the type of work you want to do/create that only working the base job can do.
  • May 13 2013: I agree with Clay Herrin about what the College system can give you. I would like to emphasize the most important thing is, finding what do you really want to do or be. If you find the answer, then there are many ways to get there. Try out the way that you can do or you want to do without worrying failures or results.
  • May 13 2013: Yes, college is important because it provides "specialized" and free-choice education to train, teach, and qualify a 'client' to be professional in a certain course. It gives specialized education which focuses on what the client wants to learn, and various degrees and masteries are means of saying "hey, this guy has been hard at work and dedicated and well-trained in his/her career, you wont regret hiring him" is an assurance to both the employer because he/she kniws the dedication, profession, and education of his/her employees and to the client cause he /she has a high chance of getting a job.
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    May 13 2013: College is not at all needed to lead a simple and honest life. But there is a paradox, if you understand the complexities of life, the life becomes simple. If you donot have an alternative, then go to college and learn about life.
  • May 13 2013: If you happen to be of the ilk of a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, college may not be for you, if you are passionate and driven with a specific goal or objective. If you are going to pursue college/university, then I would suggest the sciences much the same as the talk that E.O. Wilson gives on education.

    If you are not sure what to pursue, then take a year or so and learn a trade or go apprentice under a master anything. We as Americans way overemphasize the importance of a college education, and yet it criminal how overvalued a degree even a master degree can be. We have hyper inflated the importance of being 'educated' than the importance of just being. As an artist I realized that my contribution to humanity will be slight if any, compared to friends whom work with Microsoft or Boeing. In comparison I realized that by not being an a-hole, or idiot on the planet, I am contributing in other ways. Like Obiwan said "use the force" and trust your judgement kid. Only you know what path you are on.
  • May 12 2013: College matters a great deal depending on what kind of career you have in mind for yourself. For example if you want to a scientist, doctor, dentist, physiotherapist, engineer, computer scientist, psychiatrist etc then you must go to college/university because all of these jobs require the training you get from this kind of institution. However, there are other jobs which do not require it or in fact can be learned in other ways.
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    May 11 2013: Colin Petre, within your lifetime, technology will become more invasive of our society and culture. Machines are taking over many jobs, formerly done by the labor force. To make sure you are qualified to find emplyment after you graduate, I recomend you continue on to college and get a degree in something that uses math and science intensively. There may not be many jobs open to people with only a high school deploma by the time you get ready for find a job.

    College prepares you for life much better than just a high school education. It challenges you and helps you discover your weaknesses in critical thought and durability. It takes a lot of stanima to do research in any field of study. It also challanges you to push yourself because not many adults will be in your face, telling you to turn in your work. You are in controll of your own destiny.

    I think college was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

    Good luck.
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      May 12 2013: John.... talk about going wee wee in the kid's Wheaties. He's a freshman, what's that 15? I am not saying your wrong, but that is a strong dose of reality on a little guy.
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        May 12 2013: Mike, when I was just 2 years older than him, I was in combat in Vietnam fighting for my life and my country, while my friends were finishing up their high schoold deplomas. I wish someone had been a little blunt with me. I remember being 15. I was almost a grown man, could father children, and worked as hard as my father in the family business (buying, cleaning and selling junk).

        Colin sounds like a strapping young man to me. His question is legitamate and poised in a proper fashion.

        He is asking for a legitimate answer. Let's don't short change him with quibbling answers. The truth may not be pretty but it is the truth. Do you disagree with the arguments I posted? You can contact me in email if you like. I understand your interest and commend you for coming to the aid of youth, but I also belive in tough love and other such reality ideas. I hope the edit meets with your approval.
    • May 19 2013: John,
      I was about to gleefully chide you.
      After reading your next offering I was glad I didn't.

      College was good for me also. I spent my service time
      2years and 9months in the USAF in both Korea and Japan.

      That was before the awful College loan business got started.

      Today, I would recommend a College education only if the
      tuition and books were a parental gift.

      I cannot stand seeing my Grandchildren, and the nation's youths,
      being placed into debt for an 'Untested Education'.

      Colleges must be made to guarantee results from their teachings.
      A Lemon Law is needed to prevent mediocre Professors, those
      that earn tenure for mere 'time in grade'.

      Eisenhower stopped that nonsense in the military in the 1950-60's.

      Why should Colleges get rich and students get a bad deal.
      Force the Colleges to guarantee results.
      If their students cannot learn, the Colleges should be required
      to repay student's College loan monies owed the government.

      That will put a bee in their bonnet.
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        May 19 2013: Frank, I understand you completely. I think the new trend towards making education more within reach via free, on-line outlets will serve somewhat towards the purpose of making education affordable. In the last two months, I've visited two eco-villages that are using this resource to educate themselves and their children. As a community, they apply the things they learned to make their social, environmental, and common economic situation easier to sustain and grow.

        They just don't advertise their gains to the entire social network. They are content with their lot and their growth as human beings. This is the future, as I see it. Apart, we are easily defeated and dominated. Together, we are indomitable.
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    May 10 2013: well, college might make you appreciate your simple life more. Also, it may expand your horizons to where you'll want a bigger life.
  • May 10 2013: Hi Colin,
    There are tons of studies that show the income gap between high school graduates and college graduates. That's b/c college graduates, typically, provide greater value to the marketplace, which is the only reason someone is paid money!

    The real question I think you're asking is based on income/expenses through your life.

    For what it's worth: It is far better to live a simple life out of desire versus living a simple life b/c you have no other choice.

    The fact that you're a HS freshman and on this site says so much about you! Keep us posted on your journey!
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    May 8 2013: College has a lot more to it then just the classes you take. Coming from school people tend not to notice this. In school the focus for us is to learn basic ideas and principles, but we never really ask why we need to know and when we do it can unfortunately be brushed aside.

    College is where we truly learn how to learn and why we need to know things. Thats why it has the open approach to self development and open topics. I fully support the idea of the living with enough but education is a gift that not everyone has, use it, study things that you enjoy. Its like having a job, no one want the one that they hate and college is the first real chance to make a decision like that for yourself to see what you enjoy and find out how you can answer your own questions.
  • May 8 2013: Personally I do not consider college a necessity to be successful but it does provide an interesting opportunity to expand your social circle and interact with intelligent individuals you normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to as a young person. The college experience for me wasn’t as much about what was learned in the classroom as much as what I learned out of the classroom. I learned a lot about how people interact with each other, and saw people go through the highs and lows of academic life. This time is often taken for granted by students who look back years later wishing they made different choices. This is a time to expand yourself and figure out who you want to be in life and plan your route to get there. Another positive aspect of student life is the guidance and services that you have available to you once you have a student number, anything from a career centre, to library, gym, resume centre, councilors etc.
    On the other hand I have known quite a few individuals who did not attend/ stopped attending college and are doing great in life. With the use of technology and forums such as this one, traditional learning is not the only option to be an educated and productive member in society. There is more information and people to meet on the internet then any college or university around the world has to offer and it really puts the choice of what you want to do/learn in the hands of the user. As stated below some of the wealthiest people of our generation did not attend an post secondary institution and ended up doing far better then anyone would have expected them to do.
    When looking for a well paying job, recruiters will often look to hire an individual with some sort of post secondary credentials, not necessarily for the information you gained from the program but it shows that you have dedicated yourself to something and completed it from start to finish, it gives your work ethic credibility.
    Keep living the life you desire. good luck!
  • May 8 2013: Thanks for the link Lizanne. Enjoying the journey, whatever that journey is, is great advise.
    • May 10 2013: You're welcome, Karen. Alan Watts is a wonderfully entertaining and extremely insightful man.
      http://http://alanwatts.com/
      I try to turn as many people on to him, and that little film in particular, as I can! I think it is a truly enlightening view of what we we are doing, which we tend to think is for our own good, when in actuality, we are doing for the good of the society. Time to stake a step back, reflect and think for ourselves!
  • May 7 2013: Hi Colin,

    This is a question that you can always ask yourself and might not come to a right answer because it's different for everyone. There are people who love to study so they spend many years of their lives in college, courses, masters, doctorates... you name it! On the other hand there are people who believe that there is no better college than the experience that you get in life.

    I'm in the middle. I studied for four years and got my first job the week after I graduated and have been working almost non-stop since then.

    But I do recommend everyone to study something if they have the opportunity. Even if it's a short course because I believe this is a great experience, intellectually and personally-wise, for everyone. And, in this world we're living people expect some credentials from you to give you a job.

    I took a course recently because I decided to give a turn to my professional career (some 26 years later! Wow!) and I'm so happy now that I made this decision. The age doesn't matter; I think that we should never stop learning. And today we have education at the tip of our fingers. E-learning is becoming easier and more accessible these days, which I find it's an amazing initiative to encourage people to study even when they don't have the time.
  • May 7 2013: Hey Colin,
    I think it's a question of keeping your options open.
    I never finished college, but if I HAD, I would've found myself in an entirely different salary bracket than I do now.
    What I also know, is that if I HAD, I probably would not be doing what I love most, which I did not study.
    I think it's wonderful you know a lifestyle that suits you, but I think it's not an 'either/or' situation, but an 'and/and' situation.
    I don't think it's a good idea to write off college without giving it a shot first. You never know what - or who - may cross your path there. My parents met in line at orientation - they've been together almost 50 years...!
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    May 7 2013: You've got to do what YOU'RE comfortable with Colin. Just because you don't receive a formal college level education, does not by any means mean that YOU cannot succeed. Look at Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. These boys are incredibly successful. That being said, what you want now, does not mean that will stay consistent for the next few years of your life. You will go through a lot of changes both physically and personally. But the best advice I can give, is to listen to what you want. Look inside yourself for your own confidence because only YOU can control your life. I feel like an old man! LOL!

    God bless!

    -Todd C.
  • Jun 6 2013: As a college student, I feel that there are pros and cons to getting a college education.College is great in the fact that it allows us to expand our knowledge, provides job connections to our chosen field, and we can gain and develop skills (organization, teamwork, time management, etc.) I guess what may be a con is the fact that more than half the stuff you learn might no be used later on in the future and you may not get enough practical experience. We need to recognize the fact that college isn't enough and we must educate ourselves from other sources so that we become more conscious of the issues and trends in our global community. We should always investigate whats being taught to us and question it in order to find the deeper truth.
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    Jun 6 2013: I guess we have become a very competitive society. It would be better if we left the competiveness to sports and games and learn how to work together. We would all feel better.
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    Jun 5 2013: College and highschool are extremely necessary...Even a highschool diploma won't get you too far anymore. Used to be a time when a 16-year-old could drop out of highschool and get a job in the mines...Now you need your Common Core before you can even work on Surface.

    Experience is no longer enough for employers...You could have been a mechanic for 15 years, but if you don't have a trade ticket to back it up, they won't even look at you.

    Trust me, get at least a certificate from college that will get you a decent job. You don't necessarily need a diploma, but you do need something from college. You do NOT want to have to go back and try to Upgrade all your courses later on in life when you realize you need highschool and some college for nearly everything. It's time consuming and will cost you money both out of pocket for upgrading courses and in the long run by having to work menial unskilled jobs.
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    Jun 3 2013: The most important is the motivation to learn and unlearn, the courage to investigate our own beliefs. We can use the life as a college, we can learn and unlearn things all time, some times we can learn and unlearn in this institution that we call college but it is not completely necessary, what is necessary is the courage to investigate our deeper beliefs. it is to become free, free of our conditioning! thanks!
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    May 30 2013: you are good when you came out from your college after graduating, because Colleges gives you a lot...
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    May 29 2013: No, I have a friend at work who took his daughter out of a well respected college. He said, "Her grades are not good enough and she is wasting my money and her money!"

    I was in shock! This is my God-daughter he was talking about! But he insisted. He was a retired physician. He knew a lot of things, but I was baffled as to why he would remove his daughter from a respected University. "She's not making the grade!" he said. And that was that!

    My God-daughter was in shock. And she came to me in tears. But all I could do was support the wisdom of her father. That wisdom had been proven by years of our long acquaintance. He had been my doctor before. My friend sent his daughter to a small, vocational college. But this was a college that made her work hard.

    Three years later, my friend's daughter still has not completed her Licenciatura. That's similar to a Bachelor's Degree. Instead she earned her certificado enfermería/asistencia. She earned a state certificate: "r n"

    She works in Nación de habla Inglés at a hospital. My doctor friend says she earns more with that vocational certificate and state license at the hospital, than she ever would if she had finished her earlier studies for her Licenciatura at the Universidad Mayor de San Andres (La Paz) where I am from, or the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro where my god-daughter & her father are from.

    Her father is a very influential man, and maybe that has something to do with it. But she now works at a place where her father has "sin condiciones para sacar" (no strings left to pull).

    So with hard work and the choice of a profession that needed her, she has found success. If I had children, I would want that for them!
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    May 25 2013: As a high-school grad I would think, if you wanted as much control over one group of people... like journalists, you would herd them into a position where they almost always comply for fear of losing any chance to make it to the top.

    Will I ever see top journalists, who need to kill air time talking about something anyway, bring up something like, "As an american, I have the right to fly as many drones as I want"... "With all the drones over me, I know they can only be our drones"... "Those drones that did all that bad stuff, they weren't our drones, and we can prove it"... "Drones for dummies..?"... And what is the war on drones, by drones, going to look like..?"

    Or, do I already know I'm going to see as many people they can find to cry on camera... As bad as things are, that won't make things better in any way.

    Advertising..? What is the only time you walk away from your TV if you have it on..?

    Science..? Geneva Superpower Summit in 1985 to start ITER, six nations plus Europe to work together on a fusion power plant in France, each nation hopes to own one in exchange... except the first one won't be done 'till about 2018.

    But we have a space station... up there, some place... well, journalists say we do... Saving the planet, or something.

    Cancer..? chemotherapy everybody at birth... no more cancer.

    Would Ted have to pay more to be like Twitter for smart people, instead of just linking to it..?

    What do you do when everybody owns there own lemon aid stand..?
  • May 18 2013: Colin,
    The answer is NO.
    NO need for you to even wonder.
    Your personal interests will change time and time again.

    Teachers or counselors get paid to teach you basic information
    to get you to a point that you can cope with this world you live in.

    But they and other like them cannot foresee how future education
    will impact your life. Listen to their advice, but it is good to be wary,
    and to question what you hear.

    Other than school, the people you meet as you grow into adulthood
    will not always have your best interests in mind. Without challenging,
    look for their motives, when listening to their advice, a sound practice.

    Be happy with whatever you decide to do in your life.
    Do that type of work that make you happy to be doing it.
    Remember, It is your life.

    Good luck with your choices.
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    May 18 2013: College is not at all necessary to succeed at all in life. Success is a completely relative term to an individual based on their own goals and aspirations. One's success may be getting into MIT, another's may be climbing the world's highest mountain. Both may succeed, but their success is different.

    Sorry if I repeated someone's comment or idea within their comment.
  • May 17 2013: If our society thinks it's important...it is important. Society creates the standard by which we judge the value of the concept. Clearly this is the dynamic that made pet rocks and string theory important.
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      May 18 2013: But how far do we need to stretch ourselves to conform to the values imposed on us by society?
  • May 17 2013: The US (and other economies) need engineers. An engineering degree (electrical, chemical, aerospace, mechanical, civil, computer) from an ABET accredited school is definitely worth the money. The US is importing engineers from India and China to fill the open positions.
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    May 17 2013: William Bennett, former Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan, has a book out this year called something like Is College Worth It? He argues it is worth it only if you can get into one of the top 150 schools.

    He personally is a graduate of Williams College and Harvard Law School. I would guess his two children went to college and that he would expect the same of his grandchildren.

    My concern is that many people who suggest to others that college may not make sense for them would still encourage and expect their own kids and grandkids to go, because of the greater breadth of opportunities to do interesting work that would likely be available by virtue of the education, the exposure to really smart and thoughtful people, the potential mentoring, and the degree that confirms that they have demonstrated an acceptable level of competency across subjects.
    • May 18 2013: Fritzie, you won't like this much... Sorry.

      Harvard is a school that charges too much, and graduates future wall street
      and political leader/lawyers that today have ended up ruining our nation,
      while infesting world-wide, other governments, and emptied their treasuries.

      There are other like schools in the world. They've contributed also.

      These last 100 years have been an educational fiasco. Top down.
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        May 19 2013: People who lead nations and businesses poorly come from all sorts of places. People, regardless of where they go to school, or if they don't go to school, may choose a path of using what they have learned for good or for ill.

        Higher education in the US is, indeed, expensive. particularly for those who cannot qualify for financial aid.
        • May 19 2013: Fritzie, Harvard Grads. Summers led the pack.
          Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and those that couldn't
          transfer funds back and forth over the pond.
          A dog fight for the gold.
          ===
          ... when a youth asks why he needs to go into debt,
          and become an economic slave, to his government,
          when he just wants to be left to find his way...

          What do we tell him? Slavery is not about colors.
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        May 19 2013: Colin, if he is reading along, can take into account, Frank, that you would caution him not to choose Harvard specifically, based on your assessment of the people who went there. There are other colleges as well out there for those who believe they have something to gain from higher education, and the question of "fit" is one that both the college and the student typically consider.

        I would think we tell him to look at his options without letting anyone choose for him, because what is most beneficial for one person may be a poor fit for another person.

        Looking into financial aid is often extremely important, as colleges vary widely in their costs and in their generosity in giving financial aid.
  • May 13 2013: But its not a requirement, it depends on the path a person has chisen for his or her self
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    May 12 2013: I never thought about investing, but it seems like asking, "Are the smartest people in the world running the US".
    • May 19 2013: Well,
      they think they are.
      They do get the money. (or should I say Gold)
      Ever see a broke politician? (Nixon excepted).
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    May 9 2013: My own personal view: College is our society's way of providing a coming of age ritual for our teens, since we have stripped that out of our culture. You enter a child, and you're supposed to leave an adult. It is a poor substitute for a proper coming of age ritual.

    College is NOT AT ALL about learning. If it were, we'd all stop learning when we left college, and as others here have noted, people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Larry Ellison would have missed out when they dropped out of college. You can learn whatever you want to learn without going to college. In fact you must.

    There is the supposed value of a college degree or credential when looking for a job. I have been hiring for over 20 years, and I can tell you that in my field, I do not care at all whether someone has gone to college, or what college or university someone has gone to. Some of the brightest people I know have either dropped out or never went to college. I care who you are and what you can do, and that has little to do with whether you went to college and which one.

    With regard to living a simple life, I wish I had your wisdom when I was younger. Only now do I possess virtually no possessions, minimal stuff, and it is absolutely the best way to go. Material possessions just weigh you down. Do not get caught in the trap of consumerism. You take none of this stuff with you when you die, and the pleasure that money and material possessions can give you is fleeting.

    Focus on what gives you joy in life, and what gives your life meaning. If you don't know what that is, find out. Pursue that with passion.
  • May 8 2013: Is it necessary to succeed? Definitely not, think on the wildly successful Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. For me neither, after my three years in the military I found myself competing with master level graduates in IT and beating them soundly. That was one surprising aspect of life without college for me, it's a bit of a joke really. It used to be, and depending on where you live, college prepared you for an actual position based on what you know and can demonstrate, now... in America it doesn't by and large. If you're an American, or for any in earshot, the system is built on some kind of ridiculous approach to fostering or creating an 'every-man'. A well-rounded person, educated in the classics, but forgets them after a month (that goes for everything by the way you're not interested in personally). Well versed in communicative skills but actively erodes them in their personal life.

    I envy the European system, a straight-forward approach that seemingly works better. Through my many years of travelling, without doubt, those students are more mature than your average American. My gut tells me this approach we take isn't working at all.

    So, a simple life? Nothing wrong with that at all, I grew up that way and once I had all my youthful ambition tempered with my service, I live a relatively simple life. I contend that it is a far better thing to be anti-authoritarian than taking an authority figure at their word and acting accordingly for the entirety of your life. As a young man, you've had to accept that, no doubt, throughout your entire life up until this point.
  • May 8 2013: Go to college but do not forget your dreams about simple life.
  • May 7 2013: #1 your life won't be miserable just because you didn't attend college. You can learn a trade that will satisfy the monetary requirements to fulfill your desire for a simple life and still enjoy learning things about the world if that's what you want to to do. TED talks is a good place to keep learning new things, the library, and if you want you can always take a college course or two... Success isn't about how much money you make, its about achieving the goals you set out for yourself.. if I were to give you any advice it would be this... read WALDEN by Henry David Thoreau... take the time to find out what you want your life to be and then do it....
  • May 7 2013: "Is college necessary to succeed in life". Depends on your definition of success. "If I don't go to college, my life will be miserable" is advise by someone trying to get you to do what they think is best for you. If you were my son i would suggest you take few years and live your life they way you feel you want it, and see how it feels for you. You may love it more than you ever thought, or, you may hate it. College is always an option, it doesn't have to happen at 18. I have a feeling you will be fine no matter what you chose, all the bet to you!
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    May 7 2013: If you consider a guitar, a bandana, some pot, cool girls as pinion riders as necessary follies of life and classes, lectures, projects, exams and study as necessary hardship to enjoy all those, colleges are very important! Personal experience.
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    May 7 2013: No, College is not an end all.
    When I was younger, I planned for a simple life on a five acre farm, where I would be self sufficient and live the simple life. But, I got drafted into the Army, wound up in college, did the graduate school thing and now 60 years later wondering if I did the right thing.
    Sometimes, I think that the farm would have been great. I still have all the books on small farming and animal husbandry and I thumb through them at times to reminisce.
    Then, I think of where I have been... literally all over the world. The things I have seen and done. I got a book in me of my travels and people I've met.
    But, by time you are a high school senior, you will probably change your mind about your future. Most freshmen do.
  • May 7 2013: In fact, you still need money to live. Though you just want to live a normal life, society nowadays need lots of exeperience and diploma that define your knowledge, also when you go to college you'll have a chance to improve and enhance yourself because life is very hard and every mistake you make can be more harmful than those you make from college, so I suggest going to college is still necessary. In the other way, there are many people nowadays who don't go to college but they're successful. Good luck on finding your own way
  • May 6 2013: yes, yes, yes, yes, NO!

    I think it depends......

    I suppose if you want to be a doctor or lawyer or engineer or teacher or accountant you need college.

    It sounds like you know what you want.

    It has been said many times on TED, that passion is essential to success.

    I really love this TED talk, perhaps it will help you :)

    http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_st_john_s_8_secrets_of_success.html
  • May 6 2013: It is entirely dependent on what you want to do. If you want to get into business management, law, medicine, finance, or any of the science disciplines, then yes. College is an important part of getting to where you want to go. If none of those interest you and you want to move into a technology or skilled trade, then college or university isn't necessarily as critical to that goal. You can be successful, make good money and be happy without a college degree.

    The important thing is to always continue to improve yourself and further your own knowledge, regardless of where it comes from. It sounds like you have some time to make those decisions. Keep an open mind towards everything, college, trade schools, apprenticeship programs, or even jumping straight into the work force. There are pros and cons to all of the options, and it comes down to what works best for you and what you want to do.
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    May 6 2013: Before you make a decision on college, you need to decide what you want to do. You want a small apartment, but that's not a living. You want to enjoy small things in life. How? Where will you find meaning in your life? There are different alternatives to college such as vocational program, online degrees, certifications, etc. But what will you happy doing the rest of your? When you figure that out, then ask yourself what you need to do to get it and decide on whether or not to go to college.