Why go to College?

A post I saw on Facebook recently got me thinking again about why I’m choosing to go to college. There’s a growing movement against higher education, and many say that students would be better off financially by skipping college and going straight to work after high school. Some people are even getting paid to leave college and start their own businesses. For what I plan to study, Computer Science, most people tell me that I’ll learn more by reading books and working on side projects than through a university.

In my mind, the evidence was mounting against going to college. I’ve always been anxious to get to work and start being independent, and college delays that independence by 4 years. I’ve already been able to make decent money doing freelance work on the side, so I knew I could scale that up to a full time job with enough effort (and eventually use that capital to work on other things). I even thought at one point that maybe I could just go to college for a little while, then drop out after a few quarters and start working full time. The only value I saw in college was the degree at the end, the stamp of approval saying that I was ready to enter society as a respectable individual.

But then I came to an important realization. College isn’t at all about the degree. It’s about the experience. The degree is nice to have, but the real value of going to college comes from actually spending 4 years meeting new people, trying new things, expanding your horizons, and discovering what makes you tick. College is a once in a lifetime opportunity to do all of these things in a completely risk-free way. You don’t have any real responsibilities, but you still have the freedom to learn what you want and do what you want.

I was in a hurry to get to work, but without any real purpose or direction. I have a feeling I probably would’ve gotten bored quickly with what I was doing and regretted my decision to leave/skip school had I done so. At this stage in my life, college is exactly what I need; it will give me time to reflect, introspect, and discover what I really want to do.

What about you? Why did you choose to go or not go to college? Leave a comment below.