Dr Boyce Watkins: Going to College Should Not Be an “If”

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

The following is an exerpt from the book, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about College.”

Before I tell you all the great things about college, and all the things that are going to happen before, during and after, we should start with a very basic question: why do you want to go to college anyway? I mean, you could be doing a lot of things: playing in the NBA, bustin rhymes with your boys on stage, acting in Hollywood, or just plain old “kickin it”. More realistically, you could also just jump right out and get a job after high school. There was a time when that wasn’t such a bad thing. My grandmother always tells me stories about the days when a high school diploma went a long way, when a house cost 8 cents, when dogs didn’t bite and you could leave your front door open at night. But a lot of things have definitely changed since then, and a person must adjust to the times.

If you want to increase your chances to getting a good job one day, then getting a solid education under your belt is a great place to start. Once, I asked a friend if she was going to college. I think that she was the kind of person that wanted to make the quick money, rather than spend 4 years investing in her education. In her mind, it was all about making money right away, and college would be a waste of 4 years for her. When I asked her if she was going to go to college, she said “I like money too much to go to college”. I said to her “I like money too much not to go to college!” So the fact is this: you need degrees to get to the cheese! To lay it down in concrete terms, a census bureau survey showed that college graduates earn nearly one million dollars more during their lifetime than people with high school diplomas. What would you do with your extra million?

Sure there are exceptions. I went to college with guys who never graduated and left early for the NBA to make more money than most of us will ever make. However, this is clearly the exception. For every Kobe Bryant or Allen Iverson, there are literally millions of other students who are not quite good enough to make the big money. For every Vivica Fox or Jenifer Aniston, there are a lot of women out there in Hollywood with roaches crawling across the bathroom floor. I am not saying this to stamp out the dreams you may have, it’s a reminder that you should pursue higher education no matter what you decide you want to do. This guarantees that you will have something to fall back on in case your plans don’t turn out quite the way you thought they would.

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