I have recently acquired my undergraduate degree from a great liberal arts university in Georgia. My degree is in studio art with a minor in biology. The reason for these seemingly polar opposite subjects is because I’ve always had a passion for both subjects. Originally I was going to school to be a medical illustrator (the person who makes all the diagrams and pictures you see in doctor’s offices and medical textbooks), but due to life circumstances, I am now going to pursue a Master’s in public health, so I can get into sexual education (with final aspirations of becoming a certified sexologist).
Time after time, I see research questions pop up like “Is college worth it?”. The majority of the time, people are solely looking at the financial aspect. While money is very important (student loans, cost of living, average salary, etc), there is so much more to college than just your degree and the money invested.
While I was in college, I made good relationships with my professors. I invested my time into going to meet my professors during their office hours and being friendly with them, if I happened to see them outside of class (or if I did a volunteer question/answer panel in their classroom). The reason I did this, was because of networking. Networking is absolutely vital to survival to increase the likelihood of securing a job.
One frustrating aspect of being any kind of art major (studio art, art historian, museum studies, etc) are the countless misconceptions about it. One infamous line is “How will you get a job?”. The answer? Through networking my pretty little behind off. No one these days gets a decent job right out of college centered around their degree, without putting the effort in. If you do, it’s likely because you were the top 5% of your class (when jobs come to you, not the opposite way around). If I have an amazing degree but don’t actively job hunt, then I am going to remain jobless.
One is the critical thinking aspect. My college had students from all types of background come together. Whether it’s discussion of a book in your English class or discussing how life possibly began in Biology, college forces you to challenge your views. Seeing the domestic violence club post statistics in the square where student traffic is frequent, and seeing the Buddhist club advertise about their club meetings right across from the cafeteria. Students are often forced to confront these new ideas by accepting them, or remaining stubborn and possibly suffer because of it.
Besides networking, there’s also the academic social aspect. Many colleges and universities often have a wide variety of clubs to chose from. If you want to create a club, you’re free to do that as well (for myself, I pioneered a club focused around global issues revolving around sex and how gender is viewed globally while tackling intersex and transgender rights and problems). These clubs provide potentials for friendship and can provide fun learning activities as well. Sometimes clubs with panel with specific classes to help educate others as well.
One of the biggest complaints about college and university is the price of textbooks. However, there are ways around this (legal and not so legal). Besides looking for a PDF copy on trusty Google, there’s also the nifty tab, “Google Shopping” which has honestly saved me so much money. My school book store wanted me to spend 700 US dollars on an art history book for one semester. I found the same book on Google Shopping for 45 US dollars.
College and universities are ultimately what you chose to make of them. Getting involved with clubs, interacting with your professors, and utilizing the tutoring services can help a student find their way in college. If someone can’t afford a traditional university or college, trade schools, community colleges, and other two-year programs are great for starting to get more education.