After four long, challenging years at Eastern Michigan University, I find myself at a crossroads. I am very pleased with myself. After all, I just earned two bachelor’s degrees in four years. Not too many people can say that.
However, despite the degrees I’ve earned graduating in a timely manner, I find myself questioning what a college degree really means.
Is it the piece of paper I earned after investing tens of thousands of dollars into a university?
Is it the knowledge of knowing I don’t have to step foot inside a classroom again for the rest of my life?
Or is it the onset of a harsh reality that college means nothing more than the gap between the utopia of academia and the real world?
Definitely the latter.
Despite years of hard work, small fortunes spent and countless assignments completed, about half of graduated college students are either unemployed or underemployed, according to a recent study by the Heritage Foundation.
University life is the façade of security one will attain after graduating. The cold, harsh reality is success post-graduation is not based on a piece of paper you were given after four years. Instead, it is what you do and how well you use the tools you attained through that education, and in many cases about knowing the right people.
The student with a 4.0 GPA might be great in mathematics, yet he or she might lack interview skills and might
have trouble finding work. The college dropout, however, might invent a new social networking site or run for political office. Both are legitimate possibilities.
I’m not intending to sound like the resident apocalyptic columnist out to ruin your day and crush your goals. I would simply offer a few pieces of advice to anyone who will hear it. On top of your success in the classroom, you will also need several other ingredients to achieve long-term fulfillment.
First, master your trade. Second, get to know the experts and professionals involved in your trade. They might be able to help you land a career. Finally, set yourself apart from the field even if you’re not as skilled. The free market does not reward followers the way it awards pioneers.
Success is not found in a textbook the way professors would have you believe. Success is born in confidence, perseverance and pure ability.