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  • Writer's picturePandwe Gibson

Investing in Yourself: Why College Is So Important

After reading the title of this blog, you probably already have a list of celebrities in your mind who you know never graduated from college. There's Kanye West, Mark Zuckerberg, and even Bill Gates. But what you might not know is another thing these individuals have in common is they all gained acceptance into some pretty prestigious institutions — Bill and Mark at Harvard, arguably the most elite and globally competitive school, and Kanye attended both Chicago's American Academy of Art and Chicago State University.

Then, you have thought leaders like Elon Musk and Andreessen Horowitz suggesting that college is no longer necessary — all this right before Elon announced he was starting his own school. However, those who advocate against college often have hidden agendas, as fair competition has seldom been the norm in the Western world. This serves as another example of manipulating circumstances to suit personal interests.

As a former school teacher, principal, and professor — and a current lifelong learner — I find this perspective dangerous and selfishly motivated. Who stands to gain from the widespread lack of critical thinking and formal standardized knowledge? It's crucial to scrutinize these voices and discern their underlying motives. Naturally, this necessitates employing critical thinking skills.

Why is college so important? 

College is a modern-day version of the time-honored tradition of apprenticeship. We inherently learn best under the guidance of mentors. Consider sports as a prime example: the most talented athletes evolve alongside seasoned coaches and trainers, who either excelled in the field themselves or possess profound insights into its fundamentals and evolving trends. Academic success is the same way. Apprenticing under proficient practitioners and coaches, coupled with self-directed study and rigorous practical application, is how you will succeed in your career. Naturally, not all opportunities are equal, much like in sports, but the responsibility lies with individuals to seek out and find their tribe.

The type of investment you make in yourself hinges on your objectives. Let me be candid: not everyone has to pursue a college education. My concern lies with the discouragement of those in impoverished circumstances from seeking knowledge under the guise of care and support. All occupations hold relevance for the present moment, though this may change in the future. Society is gradually shifting away from a structure centered solely on work and toward one that prioritizes passions and purposes. Consequently, numerous leaders are presently grappling with how best to facilitate this transition smoothly and peacefully.

Should quality of life be a goal of college?

I believe that professions in the arts and creative fields, such as mastering instruments, dance, visual arts, and creative writing, along with the study of the science of the mind, will always remain significant. People will perpetually seek to influence thoughts and immerse themselves in beauty. Similarly, in the realm of politics, individuals with oratorical skills will consistently find a place as it continues to be valued and provide solace to the masses.

Investing in yourself by obtaining a college education is not merely about the degree but rather about embarking on a journey of personal growth, intellectual exploration, and societal contribution. Individuals can equip themselves with the knowledge, skills, and networks necessary to navigate an ever-evolving world. However, the significance of this investment extends far beyond personal gain; it can also encompass a commitment to addressing broader societal challenges and fostering positive change. I will discuss this in greater detail in part 2 of this series.

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