How Much College Is Enough?
It is a legitimate question to ask if you are already enrolled and have begun to have serious doubts about completing your undergraduate degree. There are many good reasons to do so. The first is the “In for a penny, in for a pound” line of reasoning. If you have already gone into debt to pay for the first two or three years of school, why shouldn’t you stay until you’ve completed your degree? You will at least have something to show for the future sacrifice of paying off the debt.
A second good reason to stay in college is to show future employers that you have the focus, drive, and fortitude to stick with a task and complete it. Many employers like to see a Bachelor’s degree on a resume. They may be indifferent to your major, but completing an undergraduate is a sign that you are a reliable, determined, and hard-working person.
A third and final reason to stick it out is a desire to do graduate or postgraduate work. If you are thinking of going to law school or medical school, you will need an undergraduate degree. Even if you haven’t made up your mind about the kind of graduate education you want or when you want to start it, you should stay and get the four year degree—so that it’s done.
However, there may be compelling factors pulling you away from the college and towards the workforce. If you have proven yourself exceptionally good at some line of work, you may get an offer for a job that does not require a college degree. This is probably one of the more difficult situations to be in. Do you go with the opportunity presented to you? Or, do you let it pass and finish your degree, which will make you marketable if the job doesn’t work out?
The best solution—in the short-term—is to do both. A job that has the potential to become a solid and high-paying career can be combined with taking college courses in the evening. Even if this requires you to transfer to another school, you should not give up the opportunity to work in a field that you love and in which you seem to thrive. Fortunately, most colleges—even the top ones—offer online programs that you can take advantage of.
You may advance in your job so quickly that the responsibility you are forced to take on conflicts with your academic schedule. If this happens, you will once again be confronted with the same questions. How much college is enough? Is going on with the program worth it? To answer these questions you must bear in mind that the essence of a college education consists in three things: improving your ability to think critically, write clearly, and reckon accurately. If you have mastered the reasoning, writing, and arithmetic skills required to operate in positions of management, then you have probably gotten enough out of your college experience to let it alone for a while.
You always have the option of going back in the future. There is no rule that says you have to complete an undergraduate degree in four or five successive years. If you think you’ve had enough college to adequately prepare you to succeed in your career, then take a break and focus your energies on advancing your career.
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About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.