In It For the Long Haul: College Doesn’t Always Teach You Things…

Every day I think about my school debt, I get a little more pissed inside. The fact that I’ll be paying off a rather large 5-figure number for about 10 years of my adult life for something that I honestly don’t feel benefited me nearly enough simply invigorates me. Why do I have to go to college for this again? Granted, I likely adapted to some skills that were suggested by my education, and I do often find myself using some skills that were learned from class projects again and again. But how much of this was unattainable without schooling?

Okay, I’ll give on professional occupations, such as doctors, lawyers, etc. because that stuff really is needed in this world, and nobody wants a doctor without college. I know I certainly wouldn’t want to put my life into the hands of a plain ol’ high school graduate either, so that is justified. Plus, their income is almost always over $100k per year, so the cost of school isn’t a big deal for them anyways. What I’m talking about me though, and I’m not a doctor…

For, shall I say, “artistic” people, or at least those pursuing an arts degree of some sort (Film and Video for example), a college education could be okay, and then again, it could be easily pointless as well. For the most part, everybody will learn something in college that will be carried with them their entire lives, and some may actually use that knowledge for something good in this world. What I find annoying though is the amount of knowledge that we pay for, yet never need to use, or wasn’t even relevant in the first place. For example, the newest member on my “least favorite subjects list”: Philosophy. I simply don’t care what a bunch of old guys thought back in the 1400’s or even earlier. I don’t care about Socrates’ trial, and I could honestly care less if Jean Jacques Rousseau was ever born at all. There words and teachings may be important for some people, and may actually get some people motivated to do something with their lives… but I don’t see it having any effect on me at all. I don’t care, and I don’t want to “learn” this stuff. Thankfully, I managed to get through the course and will never have to see it again.

But that’s exactly my point! You see what just happened there? I spent $1,300+ on a class that I not only hated, and thought to be a waste of my time every single second… but I also am perfectly fine with leaving it behind me and moving on with my life. That’s the same as saying “I’m fine with dropping $1,300 on the sidewalk, and walking away (only I think I’d rather some lucky person snatch that up, rather than the university, which cons people out of their money anyways. The chart from a government conducted survey tells more:

For most career paths that don’t involve heavy math (like computer programming, physics, accounting, or even architecture), absolute critical thinking and analysis (such as a Geologist, Anthropologist, or other research type professionals), or the careers I mentioned earlier where you need a license to “practice” it (and, if you don’t learn everything in school, you end up killing somebody), a four year degree is not something you need, and I cant honestly say I advocate for pursuing it anymore. Wanna run a business? Get started after your local community college equips you with all the required skills after a short  years. As for my education, this is exactly where I should have gone… I should have went 2 years at a community college, and then went off to do my own thing. It really didn’t look like the smartest move at the time, but it sure feels like it today.

Of course, there are benefits to how my life played out, and for those things, I’m satisfied. If I knew how everything besides school would have turned out 2 years ago, I would have likely done almost everything exactly the same anyways, just to allow them all to happen again. This is especially true about most of the people I’ve met in the last 2 years. Of course, nobody will ever know if I would have met these people anyways, regardless of my educational decisions.

I feel more and more like I should have just finished my Associates in Business Management, and then just started making films, short videos, commercials, promo videos, etc. It’s, to date, my second highest source of income, and that’s only because I’m in school, and only have time for the 20 hour per week work routine. More and more I want to leave GVSU, and just start doing my own thing. Forget the rules of the system, and branch out to what I want to do. If you look through history, the greatest people were those who didn’t follow the normal ways of society, moving forward with their dreams and pursuing their goals beyond what was expected. Many of them, throwing out Steve Jobs as an example, just dropped out of school all together. He also, before leaving for good, dropped in and attended classes that he wanted to attend, just to learn. He didn’t receive credit for it or anything, but that’s okay, because he’s made some pretty cool things so far, right?


Why don’t I just drop in on classes that I want to learn, and forget the useless garbage that the University requires that I take. It’s only a requirement so that they can get money. Period. It’s not about “giving students the best overall education.” That’s bull. It’s about money, and they’ve been making it cost more and more for way too long, and way too far…. getting off topic now though. :P

All I’m saying though, is that I don’t feel college was worth the squeeze. If it had cost less, cool, but it cost tens of thousands, and that’s too much for the benefits I’ll receive. My entire life, from the time I graduate (cause I feel like I have to finish at this point), will be all about me. It won’t be working for another person all the time, and it certainly won’t be about punching in and out of a stupid time clock. My lifestyle will be completely generated by me, and that’s awesome as far as I’m concerned, and I’m up to the challenge. Sure it’s scary, especially knowing that 90% of the skills I’ll be using in my life, weren’t obtained, or even improved in some cases, by going to college, but by the experiences I’ve lived through, and will continue to live and grow from. It’s like buying a car you though would solve all your problems, only to find out it’s a lemon. Still spent the money, and I still have the car… but is it really helping me any? – I doubt it. Still, I will find a way to get to work, and get back home, even with that car sitting in the driveway.

Charlie Pryor

Charlie is a media producer, writer, and a traveler. He grew up in Michigan, all of his life and attended Grand Valley State University for a B.S. in Film and Video Production. He's married to a wonderful woman named Hang, and simply hopes to one day turn himself into a man that many will remember long after he's gone.

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