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Courtesy of S.P. Sullivan/NJ.com

By: Staff Writer Joseph Cirilo

As a college student attending Bergen Community College, it’s only natural to question whether or not you really belong in the college life, and if things wouldn’t be better leaving school in pursuit of a career rather than spending thousands on a seemingly fruitless education with no real prospect of advantage in clear sight.

You may find yourself asking: “Just how difficult is it to find a job after college?” “What was in that phone book of a contract I signed when I enrolled here?” “Should I pick a major now, or take a load of elective courses until I find a program I can see myself in for the next twenty years?”

To elaborate the answer, let’s first examine how much you’d have to make in order to make college “worth it.”

According to independent research done by novelist and host of the free education series on YouTube, Crash Course (American/World History, and Literature), if you hypothetically spent around $100,000 on college costs including 60 percent through student loans with an interest of about $80,000 (bringing your grand total to around $120,000), a college degree must only generate around $1.75 an hour to be “worth it.”

While virtually any job (except maybe freelance writing for a website that pays you per article view) will generate more than $1.75 per hour. So what’s the difference, right? Well, the difference is in the quality of the work, not the quantity of money generated.

“But what if I don’t know what I want to be when I leave college? Isn’t a little bit of a waste of time to shell out $6,000 a year at Bergen ‘finding myself?’ Besides, I’d benefit more from field training then a classroom lecture, wouldn’t I?”

Field training is certainly invaluable. Having hands on experience in your position is the difference between knowing how to do something based on what you’ve read or have been told, and knowing how to do something because you’ve actually done it. However, you should never doubt what you’re capable of learning through lecture either. It’s not just dictated information from the text, professors are taking time to teach you from their own field experience, give you insight, example, and life lessons that will try to inspire you.

“But I already know how to do (insert job). Why waste my time getting a piece of paper if I already know I’m good at it? I don’t need a universities validation.”

Setting aside the fact that a degree is the difference between a low-wage employee and the upper echelon, let’s talk about how education destroys that mindset. We never stop growing and learning, and if we do, we reach a point of stagnation on what should be the endless pursuit of perfection. A degree is what it isn’t; not a fancy piece of paper, but a representation that you took time to learn, dedicated yourself to bettering your knowledge of your craft, art, or miscellaneous field, and likely picked up some useful information both about life, and your study. You took the time to learn, and have represented your capability to continue learning. That’s what sets you apart.

When you enter through those doors, you don’t have to know anything. You could walk in for abnormal psychology and leave with a degree in accounting, or tell your academic counselor you want courses in business, and leave a biology/pre-med student. In everything you do get inspired, enjoy your time, and look at the world in a more complex view, because everyone has a story largely untold to tell, and everywhere you go, there are new lessons to be learned.