At this point it feels like, for me, that graduate school isn't a question of if but rather a question of when.
Towards the end of this last semester I started contemplating what to do after I graduate (Something it seems every graduating senior does!). Obviously my first priority will be to put my freshly printed degree (Signed by the Govenator!) to good use in finding me a well paying job. But what about after that?
Sacrificing to go to college has done something irreversible to me. I value the educational journey I am going on quite a bit and I have become a big proponent of pursuing an undergraduate degree. I know part of this activism I have is due to the fact that I want to justify to myself that this degree I will be earning, the sacrifice that I have made, is not worthless. But that should be true for anyone who pursues an endeavor they find valuable. However, this isn't the only reason I believe a college degree is something everyone should strive for.
Another reason that I believe makes a college education important is that you learn about things you wouldn't care to if not required to do so; and you are taught these various things in the proper manner, not pieced together from various different life experiences. After enduring the college gauntlet you realize, hopefully, that many different things in many different areas of study have many similar underlying themes. It would seem that in having your brain setup to start to recognize these patterns you will be able to learn other topics quicker than if you didn't recognize these patterns, which would make every topic seems like a completely new concept with a completely new foundation.
Of course, this isn't something you go and take a class for, there isn't a course called "Learning-the-Foundations-of-Learning-New-Things-During-Your-Life 101" this is something you learn as a by-product of going to college. At least it is something you learn if you take your education seriously while you attend; if college is something daddy is forcing you to do and he pays for it but you don't really want to go then you might not pickup on the bigger picture this educational experience gives you.
While there are dozens and dozens of reasons I think college is something worth pursuing I'm only going to list one more so I don't bore you too much!
After I graduated high school I knew what I wanted to be, a video game programmer. Why? Because I loved paying video games and from reading all my Nintendo Power and various other gaming magazines I had learned that to make video games you had to learn to program on a computer. This was the one thing I knew about and was the one thing I enjoyed. Obviously I am no longer pursuing a degree in computer programming. I am, however, pursuing a semi-technical degree mainly because of my passion for computers which have become something I am good at. However, my degree is grounded much more in business than it is in the technical areas of study. I am thankful for that because this has opened my eyes to a lot of other possibilities that are out there and given me enough skills to be confident in pursuing which ever one interests me the most.
If I had stopped pursuing school the only things I would know are those that are right in front of me everyday, which is an extremely small and narrow view of the world and my potential possibilities. To look at it another way, if I had never played a video game I would have never had the desire to pursue computer programming. But because video games were what was right in front of me everyday and I enjoyed it I didn't think anything else would be more enjoyable.
Get my point?
The more exposure to different 'things' the better the chance you find that which interests you.
Of course there are many people that know from a young age what they want to do and pursue it through its entirety. There are other people who have a life changing experience that set them on a certain path and they pursue that as their life mission. However for the most of us we change our minds every so often. Unfortunately if you don't have a formal college education nor the will to pursue something new you will most likely stay put, and miserable, wherever you are at since it's comfortable. However for pursuing new life endeavors, I believe ones will is more important than a college education. But, a college education will give you the life tools you need and the big picture (or at least a bigger picture) of the world to more easily facilitate a new pursuit and be more successful in doing so than through sheer will alone.
So back to my original proposition to myself… What to do after I get my degree and get a job?
First I plan to think more about my life and what I want to make of it. Then, unless something major changes or I have some sort of epiphany that leads me down a new road, I plan on taking the GMAT and pursuing a graduate degree of some sort, either an MBA or an MSBA (probably no later than two years after my graduation).
Yes school has been the hardest thing I have ever done, yes school has been the most stressful thing I have ever done, and yes school has taken me much longer than I had ever imagined. Fortunately in looking back on the experience and what I have gotten out of it, it was worth it. Very worth it. Sure I would have definitely done things differently if I had the chance to do it over but I have no regrets and am quite satisfied with where I am at now.
Perhaps graduate school can be my do over?
Now I just need to figure out which type of graduate degree I want, I probably won't be able to answer that until I am away from school for a little while.
One last note to anyone contemplating an undergraduate degree. My biggest fear from jumping right into getting a bachelors degree right away was the fact that I felt like I HAD to pick the one thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Whatever it was I picked I was stuck with. That isn't the case. Yes college is much more focused on the type of career you will want to pursue than high school is, but it is still just a stepping stone to other possibilities. It will take you quite a while to achieve compared to high school. So get started ASAP. After you graduate you can apply your degree to a plethora of fields, and if you want a more focused education you can pursue a graduate degree which doesn't have the boat loads of G.E. classes you have to take like the undergraduate degree does. For example, If I wanted to get an MSBA in MIS I'll only need 30 more units, compared to the 155 units I have now!!!
If you want to read what others think check out these two links: