It seems everywhere I turn there are folks who feel they finished a college course that’s useless to them. I wonder if experts have done a survey on this, but my guess is that 7 or 8 out of 10 folks today regret having taken the college course they took because they ended up with a very different kind of livelihood. Did you?
For example, I met a guy who finished electrical engineering (licensed at that) who’s now successfully in the food business selling dumplings and finger food. I met a guy who finished medical technology who’s now an expert librarian. And there is this guy who finished dentistry but became a telephone lineman. And I took BS Architecture in college but am now a web content writer, martial arts instructor and bible teacher. Before this, I was news feature writer for Associated Editors.
What a Waste?
These guys all expressed their regrets having finished a college course that is now useless to them. “I should have taken a course relevant to my profession today,” they said wishfully. But problem is, how would you know what course will coincide with your future job? In college, you just relied on your ideals, dreams and ambitions—not on the actual future. So, these people sometimes wonder, is college really worth it?
I’ve seen mere high school graduates make it big with their businesses and college degreed people ending up doing menial office jobs, being small employees all their lives. A lot ended up in sales or call centers. Others are even jobless despite their professional licenses. There was even a time when so many nurses and teachers took up jobs abroad as domestic helps. I mean, study a course for 4 to 5 years just to end up with a different job that even grade school graduates can handle well? It seems a waste of time.
In my time, it was big deal to graduate from college, and we were all expected to do it. Failure meant the end of the world, if not mortal sin. But we must open our eyes to reality and have a change of mind. I’m not saying forget about college. What I mean is, people should not be sized up anymore just by their college courses or degrees or formal educational attainments. They must be seen according to their common sense—which many college grads today severely lack.
Graduates with No Imagination
I’ve witnessed how some English majors and mass com grads perform lousily in news feature writing. They can’t even write correct sentences. I’ve seen how some lawyers and theologians cannot write or speak in simple, everyday conversational English (and often fail to communicate at all). And yet, I’ve seen many college dropouts write and speak so fluently and do better jobs in the office than their college-grad counterparts or supervisors.
But don’t take me wrong. I also know college graduates who excel in their fields or businesses. They’re both good in academics and have common sense.
I’ve seen in life how you can study a lot of textbooks and pass a lot of exams with impressive grades and yet still lack common, street-smart sense. I’ve watched dozens of Math and Algebra professors solve problems expertly using complex formula but they explain everything talking to the whiteboard or to themselves than discussing it effectively to their students. And worse, I’ve seen academic nerds easily get lost in the streets, fall victims to street-thug schemes or make delayed reactions a few moments after a joke is said.
Rejecting Common Sense
Some jobs need to be manned by bookish people whose thinking capacities are confined to their college textbooks, but most jobs need folks with common sense, often the kind that college dropouts or street bystanders have—those who have become smart in the streets and everyday practical life. And you know you have this street-smart common sense if you are able to get jobs that have no connection, whatsoever, with your college course—and perform well in it.
There was this marketing graduate who was brand assistant in a big company. For years, he tried his best doing his job but the marketing director saw that his marketing strategies were all nonsense. When the company needed another brand assistant, another guy, a BS Architecture college dropout, applied for the job and was promoted at once to being marketing manager after a few months. Yup, this is a true story.
The point is, we have to start looking for common sense in people we hire, appoint or promote instead of just relying on their school credentials, grades, honors or “achievements” which often do not mean anything. School is so different—in fact, worlds apart—from the real world out there.
And if you’re still deciding what course to take in college—or whether pursuing a college degree is worth it—remember this: Never just rely on what you get from college, especially from your professors. Read, read, read and read a lot of books, and the more diversified the better. Get real experience, expose yourself more to real life, and keep reading, analyzing and criticizing.
College Isn’t Everything
If you think college is not for you, then so be it. They say college is a “sure ticket” to success. Well, I’ve proven that false a lot of times with people I meet in life. You can make it big even if you’re only a high school grad (or even high school dropout). Just determine to know what you really want to do, keep improving yourself (read books and attend seminars), be willing to learn new things and actually go out there and do it.
It’s not college diploma—it’s the imagination and determination to be what you want to be. You’ll never know what you’d end up with after school’s over.