Back in April, I asked this question of my Facebook friends and got some fascinating answers. You can see the original thread here.
But I thought it was a really interesting question and wanted to bring the conversation out here into the real world.
Personally, while my major and class studies had very little to do with where I am today, several things that happened at college were directly responsible for where I am now. To start with, my part time job with the University’s Alumni Office website greatly increase my web skills and helped me to build on what I’d already taught myself in high school.
Secondly, The Love of Three Oranges, my play, played several big parts in what I do today. In the most obvious way, it was the first time I started to earn income from my writing and remains my biggest “hit” to this day. In a less obvious way, the process of publishing it after school lead not only to a job with Lulu but also a ton of experience with publishing (both in paper and electronically) that lead to ventures that comprise almost half the income of my company. I would never have even thought about writing a play or learning anything about the writing and publishing that followed if it had not been for my college giving me the opportunity to write and direct my own show.
That said, I also came into college with a decent number of skills of my own. I already knew a ton of HTML and web design that I taught myself in high school and I’d already been running an eBay business for several years. Everything I knew about marketing and customer service I’d taught myself so you could argue that I would have kept doing the same regardless of where I went to school. The internship I got at Sesame Workshop that lead to directly to a post-graduation job I got 100% on my own. I had also been writing before college and it’s entirely possible I would have still ended up in this same publishing world today.
So, the question becomes, how much of an effect did college have on where I am now? Would I have ended up taking similar paths if I hadn’t gone to school or if I had gone to school somewhere else? I don’t have any way to answer that since I’ve only lived my life the way I lived it.
But as the discussion rages of how important college really is, I thought it was interesting to take a look at this. Even if my classwork wasn’t directly relevant to where I am now, I can’t deny that opportunities in extra curricular and outside of class shaped my future in big ways. Obviously, a college education isn’t necessary for a future as self-employed, but did the networking and other opportunities make it worth it?
What do you think based on your experiences? How relevant is what you studied in school to what you do for a living today? Can you say for sure if school was worth it now that you can look back and knowing where you end up?