Let's face it. That slip of paper means something.
This spring, high school students receive acceptance letters and mothers and fathers gleefully tell friends and family about young Timmy's launch into college then career stardom over a delicious bar-b-que party.
Timmy will go on to gain credibility. Proof that he is good. He is smart. He is worth hiring.
In fact, this is my story and I'm proud to have been the first college graduate in my entire family - extended family included.
Why do so many students go to college? After the Vietnam War, middle-class Americans were finally able to do what the rich did and go to college. The purpose? To get a high quality education and then successful job. The American Dream. It's really a beautiful thing.
College would take a student beyond the skills a student learned in high school (that of a factory worker in the Industrial Age) and catapult him into a higher-paying position - typically white-collar or one more distinguished.
And college is hard (well, if you're anyone but John Belushi in College). It's years of diligent study and fear-induced testing. But it's worth it. Or, at least, it used to be.
We all know now that a college degree isn't what it used to mean. Simple rules in economics clearly point out that with the market is saturated with students donning college degrees. And they don't have a job. Do you see the ironic paradox here? You need a degree to compete with others who also don't have a job.
I've even heard a CEO say that degrees have become like toilet paper. He said 1 ply TP = no name college, 2 play TP = Okay college w/ good GPA and luxury TP w/ cashmere lining = ivy league, but I'll stop there.
I disagree. College is completely worthwhile if you own your education. Take charge over what classes you take and clearly forsee how each class will benefit your career. Network with classmates, professors and squeeze the academia bubble for all it's worth.
College can be what you make of it. It need not be bricks and mortar if online schooling is better for you. It can even be a gap year and internships with lot of suggested reading. So, let's replace the term college for what it really is - betterment. Because isn't college really just a way for one to better themselves? Call it achieving the American Dream or what you will, but college really is just a medium for the average joe to not be so average.
It's a chance to be extraordinary.