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Should I leave College?

Asked by Hobbes (7240 points ) July 15th, 2010

College is very expensive. While I have only had to take out a relatively small loan ($5000) my parents are paying an arm and a leg. If I finish a 4-year degree, they will have shelled out nearly $120,000. They can afford it, but it still puts a great deal of financial pressure on them, and I am becoming increasingly uncertain that the cost is worthwhile.

It seems to me that there are three reasons to go to College. The first is, of course, to “get an education”. I certainly desire this, but I disagree with the idea that an education must be received at an institution. The best way to learn anything is by doing it, and since my current major is Theater and I intend to pursue it professionally I believe the best way for me to improve is to be involved in productions, and I do not need to be in school to do that. I agree that in many cases, a knowledgable and skilled teacher is invaluable, but such people do exist outside of colleges.

I also feel that the things I have learned the most about over the course of my schooling have been those I became interested in and pursued on my own initiative. I have always received good grades, but have never been happy with the structure of schooling. I love to read, and I love to learn, but I have felt stifled rather than freed by the intense and unforgiving academics of the schools I have attended. With the endless resources available in today’s world I do not see why attending an institution should be necessary to expand one’s knowledge.

The second reason is the fact that a correlation exists between the ammount of money a person makes and their level of education. However, as Forbes Magazine points out, correlation does not equal causation, and given the ammount students pay for that degree, the numbers are misleading.

Furthermore, I have little desire to earn very much money. The things I need to live a happy life are few, and most of them don’t cost much: fresh air, clean water, healthy food, a safe and comfortable place to sleep, clothing, music, books, and tea. Add in exercise, good friends and creative stimulation and I can’t imagine wanting much else. If I have a family I will want a good, stable place to live and the money to finance my children, but that’s about it.

The third reason is the “College Experience”. Certainly, I have made friends at school, and I would be sad to leave them behind. Certainly, I have enjoyed the independence and certainly, I have enjoyed the partying. But I think one can achieve independence, make friends with interesting and intelligent people, and party all night without paying 120 Grand for the privilege.

It is possible to travel the world cheaply if one is willing to work or volunteer. If I leave my school, I plan to travel with WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and eventually join the Peace Corps. I have Dual Citizenship in the US and the EU, and many relatives in the United Kingdom, so working and traveling throughout Europe would also be very feasible. Of course, I also plan to watch, study, and practice as much Theater as I can. I would like to be involved with workshops offered by the SITI Company (which do not require a degree) and volunteer again at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (I did this in 10th grade).

Bearing all this in mind, I cannot help but question the value of continuing with my college education.

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