This is a guest post from Brad Blackman. It is a response to a post I (Kyle Reed) wrote a couple of weeks ago. If you would like to guest post on Standing On Giants you can do so by going here. Check out Brad on twitter here and his design skills here
A while back, Kyle Reed posed an interesting question on his blog: Would you encourage your kids to not go to college? It sparked quite a bit of discussion, as you might imagine. (You can read the comments here)
Like Kyle, I see several sides to the issue: it’s expensive, you may not directly use the degree you get, and you can learn a lot of the same things on your own time via the magic of the Internet. On the other hand, the college experience brings insight and feedback you get from peers and professors that you don’t get anywhere else.
Yet one thing that I don’t think anybody touched on in the blog post or in the comments was the social aspects of going to college.
I’ve noticed that we tend to hang out with people with similar educational backgrounds, be they simply college-educated or not, or even similar schools. And when we are around people who don’t have the same level of education, it adds a subtle layer of social awkwardness. I guess this is Sociology 101: we associate with people of like backgrounds and beliefs.
A while back I was at a social gathering at someone’s house, and there was something odd about the situation that I couldn’t put my finger on. I mentioned it to my wife, and she agreed. Eventually we decided it had something to do with the way the people who hadn’t gone to school outnumbered those of us who had. Which felt odd, since these people were no less intelligent than we were. Granted, I think the situation was more complicated than that (I think there were family tensions we didn’t know about) but I can’t help but think that education is a factor.
Campus life is a microcosm of the world.
There’s a different kind of etiquette at play in college (and it’s different from one college to another) than there is in the rest of the world.
Also, people who live off-campus have a different view of things and probably feel like outsiders. (I never lived off-campus, so I can’t speak to that.)
Maybe it has something to do with the critical thinking and communication skills developed in college? Surely that has some bearing on how one carries oneself in social interactions. It certainly leads to a better vocabulary.
So with this in mind, I think I’d definitely encourage my children to go to college somewhere, even if not right away. And I already do encourage them to read (and eventually write). (We’ve caught our two-year-old daughter sitting up in bed “reading” an hour past her bedtime.)
So maybe it’s not so much the education that’s important, but everything surrounding it.