The Real Purpose of Education

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On TV, they show all of the 18-year-olds packing up the car, going off to a beautifully-landscaped campus where they spend the next four years drinking, partying, changing majors, and experimenting with all sorts of things — to one day graduate with a ton of loans and very little clue about the real world. 

Is this what it is supposed to be?

Education used to be about learning skills. For example, if you wanted to be an accountant, you went and worked for one. If you wanted to be a lawyer, you went to school where you read great arguments, studied the art of law, and then worked for a lawyer. If you wanted to be doctor, you went to school and studied every part of the human body, watched operations, practiced operations, and then went and worked for someone. 

Today, education (particularly college) is a big business. We go and study at pretty campuses, sit in large libraries, and listen to overpaid professors — many who have never worked in their field, but, instead, dedicated their life to studying it. 

Well, to that I say: I can spend my life studying a butterfly, but that doesn’t mean I am a butterfly. Just because I study history, it doesn’t mean I will make history. 

So, if you’re a person thinking about school, wanting to start from the beginning, go back, or just continue — there are some questions to be asked:

What will I get from doing this? A better salary, job, life? 

What will I give up from doing this? Money, time? 

What will I learn? 

How will I better myself? 

Are there other ways? 

Sometimes, going to school is the only way to become what you want to become. In that case, if you plan on spending $100,000 for a degree, I would make sure I live and breath what I am learning. That is one important lesson!  

We have been raised to believe there is only one way to become wealthy in America — and that’s to get an educationI will admit — it is a way, but it is not the only way and it is not a guaranteed way. 

I would suggest that college is not a time for you to find yourself and grow up. If you need that, work at McDonald’s, Wal Mart, or the local grocery store. Instead, college is a time in your life to focus in on a specific dream and to acquire the skills to get there. If you don’t have your dream yet, then please save yourself the money and work in different jobs until you find what it is. 

There is no one path to financial freedom in America and just because someone else becomes rich being an accountant doesn’t mean you will be. Who knows maybe you will fall in love with hair, start your own business, franchise it out, and create a reality TV show? Give yourself a chance to figure it out before you invest $100,000 in a sunk cost. 

Anna Domzalski is a staff writer for the Financial Bin. Anna will soon begin her role as Dean of Financial Bin University and will conduct online budgeting classes beginning in February 2012. She can be reached via email at [email protected].
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