Why a Library Card is more valuable than a College Degree, the Pros
I’m 26 years old now and I’m constantly looking back to my time in college thinking of how I would’ve done things differently. Reading things like this post show me how I really could’ve done things in a more practical, efficient way (I majored in Communications and Philosophy (I know, ouch)).
Back then I didn’t really like to read and I hated all things financial. I would make faces at my friends who majored in Economics or Business when they told me what they were reading about. Now I imagine they would make the same face if I told them my salary.
But anyway, things have changed since then: I love to read (fiction, PF books, business books, cook books, whatever) and I have absolutely submerged myself in all things business oriented. The way I’ve done it is by using my library card like the way your average American uses their Visa card on Black Friday, excessively.
Which I’m proud of.
So it got me thinking about how valuable that little card is to me today and how much I took for granted all the resources and people I had at my disposal while I went to college. I came up with some reasons why I feel my library card is more valuable today than my uber-expensive college degree (sorry dad, this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me (he paid for the degree, I paid for the library card)).
-I Was Young and Dumb: I was 17 when I went to college and I had no idea what I was doing. I picked a major that I thought was “interesting” (read: easy) instead of thinking further ahead into what I wanted my professional life to be like.
A lot of the things college offered me were beyond my grasp because I was just plain immature. It was too early for me to know how to take full advantage of all the tools at my disposal, so a lot of the value of college was lost on me. It’s one of the main reasons I think people should wait a year after high school to go to college. Trent at The Simple Dollar agrees.
Today, however, I am a much more self-reliant person. I have an entrepreneurial side that I didn’t have before. I am a self starter. This fits perfectly with the the whole concept of the library card: if I want to learn about something like investing or starting a business, I have all the books I would want at my disposal. Free of charge.
Instead of seeing the business world as “evil” and economics/finance as “boring,” I now see them for what they really are: tools that I can use to make my life better. This is the real world of paying bills and saving for a home, not keggers and skipping class. It’s the world of a responsible adult.
-It was a Party: College is and always will be a party. It’s one of the main positives of going, because you grow as a person and as a social being. But it’s also a distraction. You skip class to go party, you skip class because you partied too much, you skip class because—in the end—no one is going to punish you for it. Literally, you can get away with anything.
Partying is good, but not for four years. It’s too long. It’s good to get all the immature stuff out of the way (the phrase “sowing your oats” comes to mind), but taking four expensive years of your life to finally get it seems a bit steep to me. I think this could easily be done in one year, and it’s why I think traveling before college is a good idea. I went to Paris for a long time during college and it was the best thing I have done—it taught me about myself and what I wanted out of my future. I also made a ton of great friends. One year of intense living will always beat out four years of drawn out partying. And at a fraction of the cost.
-College doesn’t teach real-world skills. It’s the reason why the MBA and so many other advanced degrees are so popular. With some exceptions, what can you do with a simple college degree that others can’t? Most degrees involve a lot of on-the-job training that could’ve been taught in school but never were.
Advertising is a great example: they’ll teach you about theories and how to make a brochure, but they won’t cover the things you’ll actually be doing at an agency. It’s the reason why there are so many Portfolio Schools out there—kids still need to put together the most important part of resume: their portfolio. Why? The universities haven’t given them the tools they need to build them yet.
-It’s Cheaper: Should a college degree really cost a quarter of a million dollars? (look at that number: $250,000)
I don’t think it should. It puts most people into huge dept as they start out their lives and the last thing this country needs is more people starting out in the red.
A library card is free and opens up the doors to any world you can think of. Want to learn to arrange flowers? Ok. Karate? Fine. Start your own business? Now we’re talking.
I know it’s hard to think of these two tools in the same way. Some people don’t see a college diploma as a tool, they see it as a life experience, and I can’t disagree with that. But if we’re talking pure practicality, I can’t see how the library card (which is so under appreciated) doesn’t beat the pants off most college degrees.
I know a lot people look at arguments like this one—that essentially boil down to money—and scoff. Money isn’t everything, right? No, it’s not. But debt and the hardships that come with it are, and there isn’t anything fun about it.
Tomorrow I’ll take a look at the opposite side of the coin try to wreck the argument I’ve made here today. Why? Because this way I can’t lose.
In case you’re interested in drawing the line even further between using books to educate yourself, here is a neat website called The Personal MBA that tries to “teach” an MBA course via a series of books.