Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Soooo, you are Gen Z and you've got 99 problems. I hear ya! But here's why deciding whether or not to go to college isn't one of them.
Young people ask me all the time if they really need to go to college. They know I made a long term commitment to get a Ph.D. and everyone wants to know if I think it was worth it. Well, before we get ahead of ourselves and start debating the value of a doctorate degree (I'll save that for another blog post), lets start with step one, deciding if you need to go to college at all.
Whether you are 17 or 25, if choosing to or not to go to college is one of your 99 problems, let me help you out. YES, in almost every circumstance feasible, you need to go to college!
But Dr. Tai, things are different now right?
The economy is bad
My cousin went to college and he can't even find a job
I'm sure I can work my way up without it
My friend is making six figures as an influencer!
Student loan debt is ridiculous! You don't want me to live in debt do you?
Blah blah blah blah blah... I've heard it all!
And yes, things have changed, the economy ebbs and flows, your cousin Terrence graduated two years ago and hasn't worked a single day since, you could try to work your way up in the job you have now or hope your TikTok video goes viral, and student loan debt really is no joke.
But let me ask you something... Why would you make decisions for your life based on worst case scenarios or chance? Are you a worst case scenario? Is luck all you got? Why would you plan for mediocrity? Are you mediocre? I write this blog for people who want to stand out, who know they were not meant to be average, and who know they are destined for greatness.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to navigate life planning to avoid failure.
For example, you might think to yourself, "Self, how do I not end up broke?" Then you come up with a solution such as, "If I don't go to college, I can avoid struggling to pay off student loan debt in my future." You might also think, "How do I avoid being unemployed like my cousin Terrence?" Then your solution is, "Well, if I work really hard at the job I am at now, I can probably work my way up, and ensure my stability." And while these thoughts and solutions seem logical, they only work if your only goal is to avoid your biggest fears. But (and this is a big ole' BUT), if you are reading this,
I think what you really want, is to be successful.
In order to be successful, you have to start asking yourself different questions -- you need to shift your focus. Try asking yourself, "How do I build a financial empire? How do I position myself to be a change maker in my community or in the world? How do I secure investors for my start up?" Think about whatever big dream you have for yourself, visualize it, and start making decisions based on how you are going to get there. Draw yourself a map from starting point to greatness (whatever that looks like for you).
Now that I have you thinking BIG, regardless of whatever profession you are interested in, if you plan on being amazing (#Boss #Slay #Stunt #twirlonthemhaters), you will need to be persistent and position yourself for opportunity.
I am going to share one more big secret with you in this post, are you ready??
The greatest lessons learned while earning an undergraduate degree have little to do with what you learn studying in your major!
Shocking, I know! But truth be told, if you do college right, you learn resiliency. College helps you identify your strengths and explore your weaknesses. You learn how to navigate obstacles and persist through challenges. You learn smart decision making, and you are exposed to endless opportunities to network with, and be inspired by some of the greatest minds, thought leaders, and innovators of any generation. And that, my friend, is priceless!
So, before you pass on what could be the most game changing decision you will ever make in your young adult life, make sure whatever is guiding your decision is coming from a place of strength and not rooted in weakness (an effort to avoid failure).