As I enter my last semester in college, I have had much time for introspection in terms of what I have accomplished over the past three and a half years. The grades, the friends, the good times and the bad. All of these things culminate a college student's experience, and mine is no different. If I could go back, however, there's one thing I would tell myself.
The value of college is not found in the grades.
With this perspective, very few people get their money's worth in college because they overvalue how much their grades mean. Don't get me wrong – if you're going to med school or law school, your grades probably matter a lot. That's not the point. The point is that people have a distorted mentality about what college is supposed to be. The mental approach to college is centered around obtaining a degree, not a set of life skills that will grant you employment. Degrees do not translate to competency.
This is why college is incredibly overrated, and the me of four years ago would laugh at those words coming from myself, but it's true. It's rare that people get value from their education that translates to skills, alarmingly more so with technical degrees like engineering. Ask anyone who has had an internship and they will tell you the same thing.
This is why college bothers me. People come in with a "play into the machine" mindset that their parents and friends program them into, instead of learning to do their own thing and come to understand what it is they are great at and simultaneously love to do. Much of what I have learned in college has not come from the classroom, but through my internal and external involvement with the university, especially in the last year and a half in my college experience.
I came to the realization that my degree doesn't mean shit.
The skills and connections I make while obtaining my degree because I am placed in a prime position to network matters. The work I will be doing out of college and the reason I am equipped to do so was due to my extroversion and curiosity out of the classroom, not the work I put into it.
This is not to knock the university that I attend, because I am absolutely pleased with the experiences that I've had. I consider myself blessed to have role models in my professors over the past few years who have guided me down my path. However, most people put too much faith in their classes to teach them things that the classes are not designed to do because college is currently flawed in this aspect.
There is too much regurgitation and not enough application.
Getting your money's worth in college isn't about taking your 15 hours a semester. It's how you spend every waking hour trying to improve yourself and find out what it is that makes you happy, then finding a way to monetize that. Don't waste your time with courses and degrees that lead you to nowhere but a $100,000+ piece of paper to your name.
Invest in yourself before anything, because when the world comes down off its economic high horse in a few years, you'll be thankful you have more than paper to speak for your capabilities.