Was college worth it?

This is my reply to a thread about college here. I thought it was an interesting topic so I figured I'd go ahead and post it here too.

If you went to college (or are currently attending), do you feel as though it has been a waste of money? If so, why? If not, why not?
Interesting question. I'm not at all using my major and don't really intend to. I felt God calling me in a totally different direction about a year and a half before I graduated, but had one class left for my major. I decided against starting all over. Having a college degree is getting me slightly better pay at the job I have, but isn't necessary for my job. I don't know if that is worth the nearly $20,000 that I now owe the government.

However at the same time, I had some of the most amazing experiences while in college and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world! I spent a semester studying in Ecuador, a semester in Chicago, was part of campus ministry, had some great summer jobs, and great friends. And all of that has deeply affected my life!

For how long did you attend? Degree(s) obtained?
I went for a straight four years right after I graduated from High School. I have a BA in biology with a minor in religion, and enough hours to have a minor in Spanish, but my school didn't offer minors in Spanish (can you tell I'm slightly bitter?

What did you learn throughout the entire process?
Like others have said, it was what I learned outside of my classes that was most important.

I learned Spanish, a little bit in my classes, but mostly through various experiences. I hated Spanish in HS, but then my first summer in college, I went to Dallas to work for a ministry running a summer day camp in an inner city church. I came into contact with kids who spoke Spanish and fell in love with it. Then when I got back, my school helped my find an internship helping with children's church at a Spanish speaking church where I learned LOTS of Spanish and LOTS of culture!

I learned to travel. Every year that I was in college I went on a MAJOR trip. My first year I went on a mission trip with my church to Jamaica and helped build a big concrete slab. Then I spent the summer working in Dallas, TX. Then I went on a mission trip with an international group from my school to Juarez, Mexico. Then another summer in Dallas. Then I spent a semester in Quito, Ecuador. Then a summer in Nashville, TN. Then a semester in Chicago.

I learned independence. Through all that traveling I learned how to do things on my own. I learned to get out and explore even when I didn't have someone to hangout with. I learned that I didn't need to rely on friends to do things. This has helped me a lot as a single adult. I have a craving for something, I go out to eat, I don't wait around for someone to go with. I want to go to a museum, I go, I don't just wait around.

I learned to talk. You may laugh, but it is true. I was HORRIBLE about talking about my feelings and problems and such, but I had some great friends. I had one who would literally play 20 questions to make me talk about what was wrong. She knew when something was wrong just by looking at me. Now I'm 100 times better and will actually tell certain people when I want to talk about something.

I learned to think. I had an amazing religion professor/campus minister who really encouraged us to think about our faith and to be active in practicing it. I took all the classes I could get with him! I also had lots of friends who were majoring/minoring/interested it philosophy and religion so we had MANY conversations about things we had in our classes. We had many a late night discussing doctrine and beliefs and anything. So much fun.

I learned about the world. I grew up in a fairly small town with LITTLE diversity. But in college that totally changed. I had friends of all colors and from all over the world. I became part of a group called the "World Witness Team." It was all of the christian international students and a few of us random Americans and we went around to churches and talked and lead music and such things. I had some amazing experiences and conversations with them. I loved it! There is such a huge world out there and there are amazing things I can learn from everyone all around it.

I learned the value of community. I was part of a small group program called Discipleship. We started together as freshmen and graduated together with only a few losses and additions. We met together almost once a week for four years. This made us all pretty close by the time we graduated. We went through our ups and downs as a group and as individuals, but I always knew I could trust them and go to them when I was having problems. It was also a very diverse group. I most likely never would have said much more than hi to many of the people in the group, but got to know each other through this group.

I learned about fun! Late night trips to Denny's (and hour drive). Watching "Freaks and Geeks" and then staying up til early dawn talking theology. Going to the park to play on the swings. Sledding down the hill in the snow. Playing Taboo so much we had lots of the cards memorized. Super Bowl parties. Birthday parties. Christmas parties. Traveling together. Shopping together. Going to football games. Watching each other's concerts. Having friends to cry and laugh with. Who would give up any of that?!
If you had life to do over again, would you do things the same as you have educationally speaking or differently?
I would say I wouldn't do anything differently. Right now, I could use a major in early childhood education or social work, but changing that would change the circumstances that led to some of the most amazing experiences in my life and I wouldn't trade them for anything!

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