Regrets from College Days

by Krishna on May 26, 2011

Catherine Rampell posts the following chart at the New York Times:

[Image Credit: “Unfulfilled Expectations: Recent College Graduates Struggle in a Troubled Economy,” Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Rutgers University.]

Like she says, very few people wish they hadn’t gone to college and most regret that they had not done more work in college. I suppose you may get a different answer from those who hadn’t gone to college. They might say they never regretted it, especially those have been successful at business without a college degree. Of course, in terms of statistics, college educated workers are more likely to have better paying jobs or even have jobs during downturns that takes a toll on other workers. But from an individual’s viewpoint, it all depends on their experience in life. If you don’t know what you missed, then that is that.

I do think that the benefits of college in general goes beyond the “study and get a job” aspect. One critical benefit is getting to meet people who are very different from you. Till high school, you meet the same kinds of people. They may have different personalities (happy, moody, aggressive), but they have a lot in common (religion, class, language, etc.) In college, that changes completely. And it can help you appreciate other ways of life and become more tolerant and open-minded.

It is not an accident that as societies have acquired higher levels of education, the more liberal and tolerant they have got. The more you know about other people based on real interactions with them, the more you understand them better. You also start thinking of them as “one of you” instead of “one of them”.

For example, if you are in a 1000-student school with one Elbonian who turns out to be a kleptomaniac, you might develop the idea that Elbonians are naturally untrustworthy. But if there are 500 other Elbonians (many of whom are your friends) and 100 Kneeonians and so on, maybe you will just think of him as a “bad person” and not even register the fact that he is an Elbonian. And that is how progress is made in society.

{ 2 comments }

Joe May 27, 2011 at 11:02 am

Haha, your right education benefits everyone and I like Dilbert too! I thought I would be a programmer and all of this stuff, and found out at the age of 50 I know a lot of definitions, got almost all A’s, and can’t do anything- ok maybe not that bad but seems when it comes to computer fields your have to go and learn it yourself, dig much deeper, Community College just skimmed the surface.

The world is looking for someone (you?) that can solve the mystery of getting WebGl working on 2 year old computers, this seems a common problem; just wondered if you had an interest in that, thanks, love your blog.

(example, after loading a virtual graphic card from AMD, installing MS DirectX, following Firefox’s cure, it does not work for me and many others as seen at the Firefox site, didn’t work in Chrome either, just thought you may have an interest, this is what they use it on, thanks. My Mac friends on Facebook can use it, darn windows haha.

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/demos/detail/flight-of-the-navigator

Krishna May 27, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Thanks Joe. The link seems to work fine for me on Chrome on a Windows 7 box, but not on Windows XP.

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