I know it’s been a while since I have posted an article (2 weeks to be exact) and that’s because I was having too much fun during my Christmas break (i.e. sleeping lol)
But I was talking to a Gambian young man recently who raised some issues that, quite frankly, all of us are facing and is exacerbated in Africa.
That is, you’re taught that obtaining a degree/multiple degrees will get you a good job and afford you a better life.
I have learned from personal experience that that is not true. At all. Especially in the Bahamas. In fact, after I busted my butt and had mental break downs several times trying to obtain my bachelor’s degree, I tried to enter the job market and failed miserably.
Why? because there were no jobs available to me.
And this is the case with many individuals, especially Bahamians. You will find that the jobs aren’t there and if you happened to get one, the salary is not what you would expect.
On top of that, there is the issue of cronyism (where friends and/or family is appointed high positions and qualifications are disregarded), lack of job security and a lack of respect for younger citizens entering the job market because they threaten the position of older, less qualified managers.
Now please don’t get me wrong. Education is highly important because you need to learn what you don’t know from those that do but there is a difference between receiving a good education and obtaining degrees and we as a people need to stray away from teaching our kids the latter.
1. College education is supposed to be an enlightening experience
With a show of virtual hands, how many of us actually made our own decision to go to college/university because we found our purpose in life and that purpose required higher education?
I bet that if I was in a room with 100 other people, maybe 10 people would raise their hands.
I’d also bet that the reason why the rest of us didn’t raise our hands included our parents having to push us into going to college. To them, it’s necessary financially, but not because it’s supposed to grow you as a person so that you’re able to obtain the financial gains that you need.
I personally have faced this fact. I went to college because it was the next automatic step in a student journey, without knowing exactly my purpose and why I needed to complete the course.
Eventually, I found that my path was leaning more towards music therapy and music education (which is a HUGE deviation from my degree in Bio/chem) and this required me to go back to school.
Thus, I ended up with a degree that is useless to me after finding my purpose and other interests.
2. College education is supposed to be an investment in your knowledge, not an investment on a degree.
As my Grammy would tell me, “they can take your food, they can take your clothes, they can take your money and they can even take your life, but what you put up here *points to head* they can never take that from you.”
This is gold because my grandmother came from a time when she actually witnessed segregation between whites and blacks, including in education. She knows how disproportioned blacks were in society and she knew that receiving education would break the cycle and cause prosperity in the black home. This is why she would push us to get “as much education as you can,” which would, in some cases, entail going to college.
Our grandparents probably tried to convince our parents to do that too but it didn’t travail as much then as it does now. So I think that our parents have realized the importance of college education after seeing other black families prosper when their children completed college.
But they made a slight error when they equated their success to the degree that they obtained, not their actual knowledge base, which resulted in them throwing money at a college/university for their child/children to blindly complete by any means necessary.
This is how we ended up with a lot of degree-holding individuals, who are not that smart.
Additionally, if the child decides to go off to school in another city or country then in most cases, if they don’t receive full scholarship, the parent and/or child have to take out an educational loan. So when the child is going to school just to obtain a degree because it’s the next step, then that’s exactly what they will get….and also drowning in a boatload of debt.
3. Not everyone was made/created to attend a College/University
Everyone will not need a Ph.D. to complete their educational training (in fact, I would suggest only going to do the Ph.D. if you’re strongly interested in research and teaching at the university level).
Everyone will not need a Master’s degree. There are some professions that requires you to have a Masters to be considered certified, which includes doctors and psychologists. And this depends on what country you plan to stay in, really.
Everyone will not need a Bachelor’s degree. Now, this is a hard sell because a lot of entry-level positions now require a bachelor level degree. However, if you’re into entrepreneurship, you don’t need a 4-year college education. You just need a good mentor and, if needed, pay for really inexpensive classes online.
Obtaining an associates degree is a waste of time and money because it has become outdated.
Lastly, there are some of us who are more talented with using our hands, i.e. trades. These professions include plumbers, electricians, landscape developers, cooks/chefs, mechanics, musicians etc and a lot of these professions simply requires a certification program and apprenticeship (where you’re learning under a seasoned professional who knows the ins and outs of the profession).
I leave you with this:
Please remember that each of your children have unique qualities, strengths, and weaknesses.
Don’t try to place them in a small box
Don’t try to dictate them into areas that you think they should go because it’s YOUR regret. Not theirs.
Don’t compare them to other children, or even their own siblings.
Don’t get mad when they decide to drop out of college or not go to college at all.
Encourage education on THEIR strengths and unique qualities. They will thank you later for it.
I’d like to hear from you. Do you think that going to college is necessary today? Would you still push your kids to go through with it? Please leave your opinions in the comment section below. I’d love to learn what you think!