“Hey, kids! You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up…” – is probably something you heard from your Aunt Sally at the age of five while drawing a crayon picture of yourself as a firefighter-astronaut-panda-wizard.
Unfortunately, your aunt failed to mention the sleepless nights and thousands in debt you’d sink into a college degree, only to find that it was futile because you majored in English or philosophy or some other useless subject.
And let’s be real here – anyone who majors in English is probably better off without. If it were me, I’d never want to read a book again after going through that.
If you thought Coca-Cola or Old Spice had the most successful marketing campaigns, you’d be wrong. It turns out, college is actually the most successful marketing ploy of all time.
Think about it. Ever since you graduated middle school, you’ve heard “So, what do you want to study after high school?” left and right. Not just from your pesky aunt, but everyone – your parents, your friends, your history teacher, the bus driver, your cousin sixteen times removed, your bald neighbour Jim, and even the goddamned family gerbil.
You’ve been gradually conditioned (or should I say brainwashed) to assume you’re going to that magical place of higher learning and enlightening.
That’s how society pressures an 18-year-old, barely an adult (come on – six years ago you were 12) into spending three years’ worth of their parents’ mortgage payments on a piece of paper. If you took that out of context, you’d quickly realize you just got scammed.
The scam works. It’s the reason 1.6 trillion dollars of student debt exists in America. That much money could feed every single American for about 81 thousand years. Or you could buy 64 billion teddy bears. Or 42 billion Supreme shirts.
The worst part is, nowadays, a college degree isn’t even worth that much anymore. There’s no guarantee you’ll get a job. If anything, if everyone has a degree, how would employers pick based on degrees? Do they judge universities? Whether your name has four or, five, or six letters in it?
The thing is, while your grandparents might hail the college degree because that’s what guaranteed them a steady job, that just isn’t the case anymore. 30% of Americans are self-employed.
Of course, having a degree can help you get a job. You still need to go if you want to go into a specialized field (nobody wants their heart surgery performed by a med school dropout). It’s always good to educate yourself. Heck, even if you just want to attend to make friends, I’m not stopping you.
But seriously, treating a degree like the Holy Grail or something is like buying yourself a mug that says “millionaire” in all caps on the front and declaring yourself successful. Simply obtaining it isn’t what makes success.
The only difference between the two is that even though your friends will make fun of you for the mug, you can at least use it in everyday life. What are you gonna do with the degree? Fold it into a mug? A paper hat? Maybe as the tinder for the campfire on your next camping trip.
Actually, you can use it to write a goodbye letter to your co-workers after you get fired from your job because recently there was a grumpy old man called “COVID-19” who came along and decided to completely rewrite the definition of ‘job security’.
We should petition for them to put the definition for ‘job security’ in the dictionary as ‘it doesn’t exist’.
If college is your only path earning a stable income, I’d suggest you submit an application to McDonald’s while you’re at it. Maybe consider becoming an artist.
And what if you don’t know what you want? What if you don’t really want to go? Oh, dear goodness. That’s like spelling H-O-M-E-L-E-S-S-N-E-S-S right in front of your already-worried parents, if you were even smart enough to spell ‘homelessness’ in the first place (since you’re not smart enough to go to college).
But if you’ve thought it over and decided to take the shameful, dishonourable route of making your own career without going to college, then power to you. Find meaning in whatever you choose to do, have a good life – cap and gown or not. Just don’t tell annoying ole’ Aunt Sally.
By: Amelia Kwan
Amelia Kwan is a student and a writer for Youth in Politics.