I have received a few emails lately from youngsters who consider going to university telling me that I paint a rather bleak picture about Higher Education.
To be totally frank: YES, I DO.
Not because I don’t believe in Higher Education. On the contrary, I am a huge advocate of education and continuous learning. In fact, I have studied a lot myself; on top of my bachelor’s degree, I did 2 masters in the UK and an MBA in the US.
I paint a bleak picture because the idea that those with university degrees will be better off is so entrenched in our psyche that we accept it without objection. It seems indisputable.
There are two words missing on the above statement in order to be correct. It should read as following: those with university degrees will be on average better off than those without them. In other words, the majority of graduates will be better off but some will not.
Who are the ones who are better off?
These are the ones who:
- are passionate about what they study,
- choose a major that plays with their strengths,
- select a college that is both academically rigorous and affordable,
- work hard to get the most out of their degree,
- are prepared to be out of their comfort zone (most of the time)
- develop a social network (classmates, professors, mentors, etc) that will support them during education and career development, and
- dream big and have clear goals at the same time – I call it Plan the Dream!
It is not just about getting a college degree. It is about getting the right degree for you. For example, if you are between becoming an engineer or a lawyer, you definitely have some research to do.
So, the only reason I paint a bleak picture about higher education is because I want you to think how to improve your chances to have a successful career and a meaningful life.
Even if you are not clear what you want to major in, it is crucial you get the general direction right as early as possible.
My hope is that by knowing the reality – both the opportunities and the challenges- you will augment your courage to explore options and take the risk to pursue your passion. So when you choose your college degree: dream big and have a plan; Plan the dream!
Korina Karampela is the author of two ebooks: the UK edition ‘b4iapply to uni‘ and the US edition ‘b4iapply to college’.