College in America is a tough subject. A friend of mine posted this article the other day and I found it really interesting. Hamilton Nolan of Gawker apparently believes that America needs FEWER college graduates and that college is actually just a big waste of time and money. That’s a pretty bold statement to make and caused quite a debate in the comments section of said article. It got me thinking about my own life and college experience and whether or not I’ve wasted my time and money (and my dad’s) on a piece of paper that I haven’t particularly used.
It was drilled into my head since I was a little kid that I had to go to college. Neither of my parents are college educated and my father (now in his sixties) has worked tirelessly for forty years at a job that he hates. Like any good parent, he wanted better for his own kid. So he worked his ass off (and continues to do so) so that I could live the life that he believes I deserve. It was always the most important thing to him that I get a college education. He wanted me to have the opportunities that he never had and to get the kind of schooling that he couldn’t. He always told me to just find something I love and to do it; to never pick a job just for the money. That doesn’t mean he didn’t suggest “doctor” and “lawyer.” But, bottom line he just wants me to be happy. To get up every day and go to work and actually enjoy what I do.
So, I went to college. I attended The Laboratory Institute of Merchandising in beautiful New York City and in 2011 received my Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Merchandising. I’m a Jersey girl, so I commuted every single day for four years while living on my own, working, and interning. It is now 2013, I’m 25 years old, and guess what? I’m a bartender. Not exactly what I went to school for. So that of course begs the question. Did I completely waste my time?
Some people might say so. I think I’d have to disagree. I don’t think education is ever a waste. It’s an investment and an important one. The more you know, the more interesting you are. Even if you don’t necessarily wind up working in the field you studied, I still think you are better off getting a college experience then not getting one. People tend to forget that the world is our playground. There are so many things to learn about, why not take advantage of everything you can while you’re here? I got to do some pretty cool shit while I was in school. I built window displays on topics like animal cruelty and the music of Guns N’ Roses. I created a magazine and a men’s clothing line from scratch. I learned the in’s and out’s of the NYC subway system. I toured the factory where the Victoria’s Secret angel wings are created. I worked backstage at multiple fashion shows, took writing workshops, visited museums, and spent my lunch breaks lounging in Bryant Park. I interned at CBS Radio (twice), which helped remind me how much I love to write. It was there that I learned to use WordPress, which is what I’m using to write this right now. I discussed the pains of wearing stilettos with Keri Hilson and laughed with Rihanna at a fellow co-worker who had a serious crush on her. Bruno Mars kissed me on the cheek, Trey Songz grabbed my ass, and Mark Hoppus told me he liked my tee-shirt. But most importantly, I got to publish blogs that I’d written on the CBS New York and 92.3 NOW websites. (Google me ;)). For someone who has been reading and writing since I could identify my own nose, that was a pretty big deal. I know my dad was proud of me for that one.
None of these things would have been available to me had I not gone to college. I learned a lot and met some really incredible people. I discovered a lot of things I like and a lot of things I don’t like. Maybe I will eventually work in fashion but even if I don’t, I can’t say that my education was a waste.
I do, however, agree with Nolan when he says that we need less Liberal Arts majors. Don’t just major in something just to major in it, because “eh whatever, I’ll just pick this cause I don’t like anything and I have no interest in anything.” Wait. Take your time. Figure it out. If you have the opportunity to get an education in something that you are passionate about and that inspires you, you should take it. Not everyone is so lucky.
Happy studying, kids.