I happened to have an excellent high school education. Sure, I could spend a lot of time discussing all of my high school’s flaws, but when all is said and done, my high school education greatly broadened my knowledge about the world, but more importantly encouraged me to be curious and taught me to ask better questions.
I had many good experiences in college. I had many classes which increased my knowledge and some which helped me see the world from different perspectives. However, I feel that most of what I got out of college I could have gotten outside of college – I could have read a bunch of books, I could have taken independent classes outside of college, and I could have met many of the same people (or met equally valuable people) even if I had not gone to college. While I did learn a lot and grow a lot in college, I think I would have learned and grown just as much if I had taken a different path.
And, I dare say, I am learning as much by living abroad, even though I am not officially a ‘student’, as I did in college.
I currently have a job that requires a bachelor’s degree, mainly due to work permit regulations. So, in a sense, I am using my college degree. However, the use is purely bureaucratic. I am actually not using what I learned in college very much in my job, and I think I would have been just as qualified to do the work if I had been merely a high school graduate instead of a college graduate.
At the very least, I did not have to take out any loans to fund my college education, partially because I went to community college / state university in California (low tuition), and because I come from an affluent family. Even in high school, I thought taking a loan out to fund a college education was a risky proposition, and if I had had to go into debt to fund my college education I would have probably chosen to skip it.
To me, it seems having a college education is not so much about actually acquiring useful skills, knowledge, or perspectives, but to act as a shortcut for employers who are too lazy to do a proper evaluation of prospective employees. And to mark one’s middle class status, of course.
At the same time, it seems that a high school education of the quality I had is the exception, not the rule, and that college has to take up much of the slack caused by the deficiency of high school. Most people probably do not realize how much I gained in high school, and thus would underestimate my education if I had presented myself as a mere high school education.
I think fewer people should be going to college, and that quality high school education should be the norm, not the exception.