Today, a new survey from Gallup reveals a shocking level of “regret” among students who rush into college with no realistic expectation about what comes next. The most important quote in the article is not mine, (though I do think mine is rather good,) it’s this one – “Going to college to find yourself has become a luxury many Americans can no longer afford.”
The biggest criticism I get for arguing in favor of the trades, (aside from the fact I’m not skilled in these areas myself,) is the accusation that I’m “anti-college.” I’m not. My liberal arts education was useful in ways that went far beyond getting a job, and I don’t regret a single dime I spent on my degree. But of course, in 1984, my diploma cost a relatively modest number of dimes. Today, I’d have to borrow roughly $70,000 to purchase the same education that cost me $12,000, thirty-three years ago. And that’s a fact that can no longer be glossed over.
I can’t prove it, but I’d wager the “regret” these kids feel has nothing to do with the fact that they’re no longer interested or passionate about whatever it is they studied; it’s because they’re trapped. They can’t change the direction they were pressured to choose when they were a teenager. Now they’re out in the real world, and realizing they’ve traded their freedom for the imaginary security that someone told them would come if they borrowed a fortune under the guise of “investing” in their future. It’s a damn pity.