College vs. “The Real World”

Around this time last year, I was finishing my senior year of college.

My mentality at the time was this: I’m tired of writing papers. I know all this is going to be essentially meaningless in the real world. My employer is not going to grade me on the ten-point scale. I don’t want to go to grad school and write more papers. If I must go to grad school, I can go later in life or online. I don’t want to postpone life in the real world by hiding in some other university, which is precisely the opposite of the real world. My chosen career path does not require me to have a master’s. Why bother?

After I graduated, I looked for work. That job search taught me more about the “real world” in six months than college had taught me in four years.

During my time in college, I was absolutely obsessed with it. School was my life and, like the dork I am, I loved it, up until I realized that it wasn’t really preparing me for “the real world.”

I don’t regret not going to grad school. I don’t regret entering the “real world” and going to work one bit, but I miss school so much it’s almost painful. My brother is three years younger than me, and he’s ready to transfer from community college to university. Quite frankly, I’m jealous of him. I want to take that journey again. Going to university was one of the best decisions I ever made and it taught me so much.

College was a completely different kind of learning experience than what I experienced job searching and living in the “real world.” I think going to college taught me how to learn. It didn’t necessarily teach me how to get along in the real world, but it taught me how to learn to get along in the real world.

So how about you? Are you in school? Are you out of school and do you miss it? 🙂

10 thoughts on “College vs. “The Real World””

  1. I am. To be honest I’m a dork as well and I feel quite committed. I have my hobbies but education is my life, I suppose.


  2. After college, I took a “year off” to work in the “real world” before attending law school. Definitely time well spent.

    If you miss school, maybe you could take one class per semester? Or take some on-line courses?

    As far as I’m concerned, education is rarely wasted.


  3. I’m finishing my Bachelors in Music Piano Performance and hoping to continue my musical studies as soon as possible. It’s very nerve-racking trying to perform and complete analytical papers or major projects, but it helps me prepare for the challenges of the future.


  4. I enjoyed school so much that I’ve never left. There is a shift of perspective, though, standing in front of the class instead of being seated in it. But let’s not carry on this misunderstanding of what the real world is. School is much closer to real than the world of shadows that many jobs inhabit, as Plato would remind us.


    1. I guess that would depend on the job. Certain jobs feel so far removed from anything you’ve ever learned in school.


  5. Hey Maggie, I think a person can have a wide range of jobs without a college degree. The main thing is knowing how to communicate and be confident. I got lots of job offers when I was a valet at a swanky hotel. They just liked how I conducted myself. They can teach me the trade but they cannot teach what I had/had.

    What we do with the knowledge we obtain is more important than the knowledge itself. There should be a vision or plan for our education, otherwise it can be hard to be accountable and it can be hard to stay focused and inspired.



    1. I agree with having a goal or a plan. It gives you something to “set your sights on” – and I also think it’s true that confidence/good communication skills can’t really be taught (at least in school). They’re either something you’re born with (or not) that are reinforced (or not) by life experiences.


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