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The True Value of a College Education

Updated on November 4, 2016
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Sabrina loves to write about love, life, and everything in between in a candid yet humorous approach.

In this day and age it is a privilege to have a college education. Many people get a college education for the obvious reasons of making more money and getting a better job. This is a good reason for getting a college education, but it is certainly not the most important one. A college education can open many doors for you, both monetary and practical. The real value of a college education is not what it can do for you but rather how it can change your view of the world.

It has been said that "there is no one older then a high school senior and no one younger than a college freshman" which I believe is very true. When a person graduates high school, they think they know most things about the way the world works when in reality they know very little. A high school senior goes from the being the oldest and wisest in the school back to being the youngest and most immature when they enter college as freshman. Many things change from the moment you enter as a freshman in college to the time you graduate as a senior. These changes can be subtle, but when you look back, you can see just how much of a different person you have become.

It is normal for many college students to change their majors several times. Personally, I have done this myself. I started college majoring in Psychology, then changed my major to American Studies, then back to Psychology, then History, and finally decided to stick with American Studies in which I got my Bachelor's Degree last year. I am thankful for my many major changes because I got to take and experience different classes that changed my view of the world. When I changed my major, these classes weren't considered wasted time but rather extra electives.

I wanted to study Psychology for the obvious reasons; I wanted to know more about people and why they acted the way they did. What I ended up learning in Psychology changed how I viewed the world and fascinated me greatly. I learned about the many psychological issues people could suffer from and how it could affect their daily lives. I also learned about the people to watch out for in society, the psychopaths and sociopaths that take advantage of people everyday. Even though I decided not to pursue Psychology as a career choice, the things I learned while studying it continue to be valuable in my everyday life.

I switched my major to History because I have always loved the subject and thought it would be great to study in detail. It was interesting, but again I decided not to pursue it as a major because it was very one dimensional and I was looking for something more. I wanted a major that covered many different disciplines and could broaden my view of the world. I got exactly what I was looking for in my American Studies major. By keeping this major, I could pursue my passion of writing while also studying many different subjects. The American Studies major includes many disciples such as history, politics, sociology, literature, government, and plenty of choices for electives.

Although I was very happy with the American Studies major, I never expected it to change my life and view of the world to the extent that it did. I learned about history in a way that not only told about what happened, but about the way it impacts the world today. Everything that happened in history can be used as an example to learn from in the modern world today. I read books and journals of people who lived in past times and wrote about their lives. It was interesting to find out that most people want the same things even though the times have changed. Everyone wants to be loved, heard, accepted, and to belong somewhere. I couldn't consider myself a true citizen of the United States until I learned the history of the land and its people. I could never understand people who didn't appreciate history because how can you not like the story of your ancestors and your land? To me, history explained America from its humble beginnings to its prosperous present.

Studying politics and government as part of my American Studies major was beneficial and eye opening to me as well. I was able to learn more about the local, state, and national government then I ever thought possible. I was also lucky enough to take these classes during the 2012 presidential election. It was interesting to be studying politics and the way the government worked while we were in the midst of a national presidential election. To be honest, I learned more about government during that election then any other because suddenly I wasn't watching sitcoms and movies, I was tuning into the presidential debates and listening to the candidates battle it out over important issues like economics and immigration. I never thought I would be interested in politics, but the more I learned about it the more I wanted to know. I wanted to be as much of an educated voter as I could be. Even though we tend to think of politics as corrupt, it was important for me to know the origins of government and how our forefathers intended it to be in the beginning of the United States.

Learning about the laws was another important and life changing aspect of American Studies. You don't have to be a lawyer to know what the law is about. I found it especially beneficial to learn about the laws of the state I live in so I could be a better informed citizen. It is also great to learn about how the local government works so that if you are ever in need of their assistance you know exactly how things will proceed. You also have to know about your rights as a citizen so that no one can take advantage of you or your property. These simple yet important things broadened my view of how the world works.

Sociology was another subject that changed the way I looked at people and life. Sociology is the study of humans and relationships. I learned about society and the classes of people from lower to higher class. Each class of people has a different set of values, behaviors, and ways of life. I read essays written by people of different classes and their different views of the world. I especially remember two books I read in sociology classes that completely changed my outlook on the lower class. These two books are: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich and The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler. After reading these books, I could never look or judge someone in the lower class the same way again. I had so much more respect for what they did and the challenges they faced. My life changed because I viewed people differently and had so much more gratitude for everything I had.

Literature was another big area of American Studies that helped me grow as a person and look at the world in a different and hopefully better way. If I wanted to be a good writer I had to look at the work of great writers in the past and study their work and their views. By reading the words of some of the great writers of the past like Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman, among many others, I saw the world through their eyes and enjoyed learning about the way they lived and what inspired them. I have always been a fan of reading, but it is one thing to read a book on your own and quite another to read it as an assignment in college and then have to write your own interpretation of it in essay form. This really forces you to examine the story and your beliefs and opinions about it. You can also get great feedback from your professors and ask questions that you might have.

The electives in the American Studies major left a lot of room to take many classes that both interested and benefited me in the long run. I surprised myself by my desire to take electives like classical and American music because I wanted to broaden my horizons as much as I could in every direction. I personally have no talent in the musical area except for my desire to listen to music produced by others. In my music classes I got to learn about the many types of music and its creators. I learned about the basics of music and its structure and it made me listen to music with a slightly different ear. Suddenly, I could notice the tone and rhythm when before all I heard was the words. I learned about American music legends like Elvis Presley and the Beatles in a new way. After taking these music classes, I appreciated music in a different but better way.

After four years in college, my reward for all my hard work is my Bachelor's Degree in American Studies. This degree means I have a better chance to get a good job. Maybe I can also earn more money because of my degree. In reality, I am much richer than any money my degree can help me earn. I am richer because I view the world differently from when I was a college freshman. I am more confident about the present because I know about the past, I am a more informed citizen because I know my rights, I respect people from different walks of life more because I know about their struggles, and I appreciate simple pleasures in life like music because studying it has taught me its true meaning. In the end, my college degree gave me the most valuable thing I own; a better and more hopeful outlook on the world and its people. I hope that your college degree can do the same for you.

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