Last year I seriously asked myself if the education I was receiving was worth it.
As a photography major and a French and Spanish minor, I figured I could find alternatives to college to fulfill my educational goals. I could have interned with other photographers, taken online classes, traveled abroad and immersed myself in the language—all of which would have saved me and my parents thousands of dollars. I also wouldn’t have to deal with paying back loans for the rest of my life.
It’s true, I thought, that most college graduates don’t acquire jobs in their field right after graduation. Photography is so competitive these days; success in the discipline seems fleeting. So why stay in school? But, at the same time, I thought, what if I left college? Then what would I do? Would I find a job here in Seattle or back home? Move across the world in search of the same thing? What about the future without a degree?
I would probably become unhappy with a minimum wage job for the rest of my life, even if it was overseas in Madagascar or Chile. Most of what I want—like volunteering for the Peace Corps or teaching abroad—requires a college certificate. There are many different opinions about whether or not college is worth it, but in the end, for me, it is. Having a certificate to show my future employers that I have completed higher education opens so many doors, both abroad and in the US. Having a college education is such a privilege that many of us take for granted. It doesn’t come at an easy cost. It takes tens of thousands of dollars and many late nights.
But in the end it might not be for everyone.
Nicole Schlaeppi, Photo Editor