College is important–there’s no doubt about it. The opportunities that present themselves to people with college degrees far outweigh the opportunities waiting for those with only a high school diploma.
However, even though college can help young people land jobs, it doesn’t guarantee creativity or a myriad of learned (valuable) skills. A degree doesn’t denote talent. It also doesn’t ensure productivity, and producing has never been more important than in today’s economy.
University curriculum is helpful, but it can only take you so far. What’s more important is rolling up your sleeves and doing. That’s why I love Cal Poly, SLO’s motto: Discere Faciendo (Learn by Doing). Higher education has an insidious way of putting off real work in order to “prepare.” Young people can take more and more classes (and find themselves deeper and deeper in debt) only to discover they’re missing out on very fruitful years of honing many crafts in the real world.
This is why Google is turning down Ivy League graduates with immaculate transcripts. Google wants people who don’t just have a specific area of expertise, but also the ability to learn valuable skills and apply them when solving problems.
Young people need to be shown that talent and hard work are what will help them be successful in the future. College is also important, but degrees will never take the place of being able to do a lot of stuff well day in and day out.