With a college education comes some regret. That doesn’t stem from going to college, however, but from failing to take full advantage of what a college education offers.
At least that is the finding of a survey conducted recently by “60 Minutes” and Vanity Fair magazine.
And the American adults surveyed also showed that they still feel that a good, solid college education is the best pathway to a successful life.
Those opinions are being expressed at an opportune time for the Class of 2013, which will be leaving high school in May.
High school graduation is both a time of excitement and a time of anxiety. On the cusp of adulthood, teens are placed in a period of transition, one in which they will, by necessity, begin making more of the important decisions that will affect their lives for years and decades to come. There is an exhilaration that comes with that freedom, but there also is discomfort. For most graduating seniors, much of their lives has been structured to a large degree through the schools they attended.
College is a great deal different. A student finds that he or she has acquired a great deal of responsibility that formerly fell on parents and teachers. What a college student learns — and doesn’t learn — rests largely with that college student.
So, it’s a bit telling that nearly half of the adults surveyed wished that they had worked harder on their studies, with another 40 percent saying they wish they had spent more time networking. Meanwhile, college fraternities and sororities, a big part of college life on many campuses, hold little interest for post-collegians. Of those surveyed, 3 percent said they’d think less of someone upon discovering the person had been in a fraternity/sorority and 2 percent said it would elevate their opinion of the person. The vast majority — 86 percent — didn’t care one way or the other.
On the other end of the scale, only 4 percent wish they had engaged in more sexual activities than they did and a scant 1 percent felt they had shortchanged the experience of taking drugs while in college.
About 40 percent of the respondents thought that the standardized aptitude test (SAT) that teens take was a necessary evil, with smaller percentages suggesting SATs are a failed idea or irrelevant.
Those surveyed also placed a high importance on what college offers.
We’ve all heard the stories of successful people who didn’t bother with college. The fact is, the lightning of success can and does strike some people. Last month, Nick D’Aloisio, a 17-year-old from Britain, became the latest example when Yahoo! bought a news app he developed for smartphones for a whopping $30 million.
But when you do the math, those stories are few and far between. For every young adult who finds sudden fame and fortune, there are tens of thousands who don’t. So, it’s no surprise that adults want to see their kids get a college education.
Of those surveyed, 45 percent would advise their child to stay in college even if their child was offered a dream job. Another 27 percent would not offer an opinion and let the child make the decision. Only 23 percent — less than one out of four — would urge their child to quit school and take the job.
A good education is still the best foundation to build upon for the best opportunity for success. We hope the Class of 2013 will remember that the payoff in the future will be worth the effort made today.