There has been a longstanding discussion among digital marketers about whether college is necessary, and there are quite a few successful marketers with little or no college education.
That is a whole lot different from when I was growing up. My dad expected my brother and me to go to college, get a good job, and live a happy life. It was a natural progression.
I was all in, despite not having any money for college or much interest in being in a classroom. I did what was expected and then took out loans only to come away from my first semester with a 1.0 on nine credits.
My major started out as Pre-Journalism, but when I landed on academic probation I was instructed to pursue a different major, which ended up being Radio, TV & Film.
That was mostly interesting, but after a year or so I had to look for another major because a lot of the classes were being phased out. I moved on to Communications and got my BA there after ten semesters and some summer sessions.
I also walked away with student loan debt, and I struggled to find any sort of job. My first glamorous position was as a front desk clerk at a Comfort Inn & Suites for $5.50 an hour. I later moved up the ladder as a Blockbuster Video assistant manager for a wage of $7.00 per hour.
I bounced around for several years after college as a low wage, low skill guy with debt. What happened to the good job I figured was automatic if I got my education?
I never took a marketing or business class, but I managed to stumble into a job as an affiliate manager at 27-years-old. The industry was new and I had the privilege of making up how I would do things. Nobody was learning affiliate marketing in college. Nobody was learning it in any formal environment. It was a small group of self-taught pioneers.
But I was grateful I got my degree. It wasn’t just the diploma or classes I sat it, but the process of college. The maturity, the experiences. I ended up doing a lot of things outside the classroom that were related to school, such as founding a profitable newspaper for the Greek system, holding offices in my fraternity, balancing budgets, dealing with school and city officials, and other real-world experience.
While many tech companies, including Apple, Google, and IBM do not require a degree, there are still a great many companies that do mandate one for consideration.
If I was doing it all over again I’d still go to college, and I’m encouraging my kids to do the same if that’s the path they want to take.
Since each of my four kids was born I’ve funded 529 plans for each of them to be covered for four years at a state school. My firstborn is a college sophomore and my second is taking her SATs. I didn’t learn what I wanted to do until my late 20s, so I want them to make their own choices.