There is no question that student debt is increasing. Since 2000, student debt in North America has grown by over 500%. Tuition goes up, cost of living goes up, and students end up with more debt. This wouldn’t be a huge problem if wages and salaries increased proportionately, but they don’t. There are also less jobs available for students when they graduate. So basically the cost of everything is going up, and when you finish school you have little hope of getting a good job in your field, and even if you do, you certainly won’t be paid an appropriate amount for the debt you’ve incurred.
So why bother going to College or University at all? Why spend so much money when most of the knowledge you gain won’t be retained after a few years, especially if you don’t have a job in your field? But there is another purpose for post-secondary school. It certainly doesn’t warrant the ridiculous tuition or the staggering debt, I’ll make that clear, but this other purpose is important, and can certainly set you up to be successful in your future career.
Post-secondary school forces you to learn how to learn.
When you take the leap into post-secondary studies, chances are you will live away from home, or at least spend a significant amount of time away. You will get your first taste of true independence. Nobody is there to tell you when you have to do anything, and if they do, they won’t force you. It’s your first shot at being an adult. But it comes with a lot of responsibility.
You have to feed yourself ideally healthy food, you have to manage your schedule for classes, sleep, and leisure time. You need to take care of your living space, ensure your work is done on time, and be prepared to learn a lot of material in a very short semester.
If you don’t adapt and learn to manage these challenges, you won’t make it through, at least not very easily. But with all these responsibilities for the first time, being able to handle them won’t mean a thing if you don’t learn to learn efficiently and independently.
In high school, teachers and parents worked to keep you doing your assignments on time, you had to attend class, and believe it or not, you were being set up for success. But in the post-secondary world, the professors don’t check up on individual students, lectures and tutorials generally aren’t mandatory, and all the time you put in to learning the material is your own. Professors are always willing to help those who ask and give their time to be better, but that is a very small minority of students. I was successful in school, and I certainly didn’t ask professors for extra help, even though it would have benefited me greatly.
So if you don’t know how to teach yourself, be driven, work hard, and remember the new material on your own time, you can’t succeed. Being successful in college means learning the best methods for you to retain information. It means being socially active and finding friends and other students who you can work with to learn more efficiently. It means managing time and learning to be an independent adult.
If you successfully gain these skills, then your post-secondary career will have been worth it, because real learning doesn’t end when your four years are up. Real learning begins when you hit the real world. And you had better know how to do it efficiently, because you’ll only gain more responsibility and more challenges when the working world comes knocking.
And don’t forget to have fun, you only get this level of freedom once!