2016/12/29

Should You Go to College?

Commenter anonme offers some sage advice to college-age readers in response to yesterday's post:
As someone who holds a useless humanities degree, I am firmly in the "college is a scam" category. With caveats. 
If there is some in the audience who are college age, I am going to attempt to address the question: "Should I go to college?" This is going to be an assessment made from opinions based off of personal experience, and should be taken with a grain of salt. My fellow commentators are more than welcome to agree, and point out errors. 
I would personally not recommend going into college unless you are planning on going into a STEM job (science, technology, engineering and math), Medicine, or a law degree. And even in those cases this might not be sound advice. It is essential you do some research before making your decision. Decide if you want a job in your state, or if you want to move. Find out demand, find employers, and what they are looking for. Again, just personal opinion, but DO NOT, enroll as undeclared. That will be an extremely expensive mistake. If you are having a hard making a decision now, you will most likely have a hard time making the decision years into it. Make up your mind while you can do so without a mountain of debt. 
Why do suggest only STEM, Medicine, etc? Because the vast majority of degrees outside of those fields are pretty much useless. With many of them you will only find teaching jobs, and competition for those jobs are fierce.I cannot stress this enough. You will not find a job with Gender Studies, Liberal Arts, or Fashion Studies. Forget the saying "you just need a degree, it doesn't matter which. Employers just want to know you can finish." It is hopelessly out of date. Also ignore aspersions against joining a trade, perhaps a trade really is right for you. Again do your research. 
Another aside for aspiring authors, with the question "should I get an English degree?" I would go with Larry Correia's answer. It's not really necessary. Those with English degrees seem subject to the same unpredictable formula of hard-work, luck and marketing that everyone else is subject to. In my creative writing classes the teachers did very, very little, instead relying on workshops with fellow students. You could get the same experience from joining a local writing group. Some colleges have science fiction classes taught by actual SF writers. Mine had one years ago, and cut them all before I enrolled. And even then, from what I can you can probably get the information elsewhere. Most SF writers will go into how to write on their blogs. Much of what Larry Correia taught in his college course was just recycled from his blogs. If you want to be an author, I would suggest saving up to get a kindle, and then downloading as many books as you can from project Gutenberg. Read. A great deal.
So for the "Should I go to college", the easy answer is "no, you shouldn't it's a waste of time and money." And like all easy answers it's insufficient, inadequate, full of exceptions, and completely subjective. Again, Research. I learned a ton in college. Unfortunately the thing I learned the most is how to be a good college student. Being able to guess the right answer based on how the multiple choice question is written, and sussing out the professor's biases so you can handcraft an essay aren't skills you can put on a resume. 
Again these are just my opinions, and plenty of counter opinions can be found. I'm just an anonymous aspiring writer on the internet. Some successful writers say college is important, and other just as successful writers, if not more so, say it's not. Look at both when doing your research.
He's right. Decide what kind of lifestyle you want to lead. Find out which career will a) provide sufficient income or personal freedom to maintain it, b) have openings when you're ready to go pro, and c) still be there in 20 years. Not all such jobs require college degrees. In fact, many don't. Thanks to the internet, it's easy to find all of this information before making your choice. Get informed or spend the rest of your life mired in regret.

Note: your teachers, guidance counselors, and school administrators are in on the scam. They will feed you misinformation aimed at pushing you toward the government trough. If your parents are Baby Boomers, they will also misinform and pressure you in the same direction; not out of malice but out of blissfully ignorant adherence to woefully obsolete rules that only worked from 1946-1988.

This warning doubly applies to aspiring authors. An English degree is not only worthless, it has negative value since nontraditional publishing is now the name of the game. We don't have to impress failed lit-fic authors (but I repeat myself) given sinecures as SFF editors at Big 5 houses anymore. And if someone advises you to get an MFA; run.

I won't sugarcoat it. Making a living in the arts is diabolically hard--also by design, but that's another post. Authors rely on support from their readers and colleagues. If you found this information helpful and you enjoy fun, genre-bending SFF, consider supporting my fan-pleasing work.

5 comments:

  1. >Making a living in the arts is diabolically hard--also by design, but that's another post

    Sounds like that will be an interesting post.

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    1. I'll definitely get around to it. The short version is that gatekeepers at the major publishing/film/record companies restricted access to honest craftsmen who just wanted to entertain while handing out golden tickets to mediocrities who pushed the right politics.

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    2. Sounds about right. And all those industries, if not culture as a whole has suffered as a result.

      I'm glad amazon/kindle has allowed authors to bypass the gatekeepers, but it's a shame the financial barriers limit the other industries.

      And some just don't make sense. Like webcomics should allow anyone to make a comic, but they all kind of fell into the grip of SJWs. Probably because the options for monetizing webcomics were limited and had gatekeepers, and cliques arose, but that's a conversation for another day.

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  2. The admission that makes me a total heretic in my family:

    Finishing college was one of the worst decisions I ever made in my entire life.

    Don't get me wrong - I've done quite well for myself. I think I would've done better - and been happier - if I'd dropped out and gone to work for McDonald's during the day to pay the bills and spent my nights making my first business a success. And I'm dead convinced that had I done that it would've been a success.

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    1. You're almost certainly right, simply by virtue of avoiding the debt and getting a four year head start on work.

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