Is College Worth It?


Photo by Shirley Caputo

I’m a 5-Observer with a strong 4-Romantic wing in the Enneagram system of 9 personality types—and an introvert. I didn’t like high school much, especially the social part. I looked forward to going to college to learn more about my favorite subject, music, and to see what else would interest me. In those days getting into a good University was easier than it is now—I just needed a B average to get into Cal. My goal was to feed my soul rather than prepare myself for a job. I got what I’d hoped for, and then some.

How things have changed. Now high school students are feeling so stressed about getting into college, many are depressed. They’re studying more and socializing less. They’re taking advanced placements classes in high school and participating in extracurricular activities in order to impress college admission boards. Dr. Anthony L. Rostain, psychiatrist and co-chairman of a University of Pennsylvania task force on students’ emotional health thinks this is a public health issue. “We’re expecting more of students: There’s a sense of having to compete in a global economy, and they think they have to be on top of their game all the time. It’s no wonder they feel overwhelmed.”

College student Suzanne Ciechalski says technology that might appear social in nature may in fact lead to stress and feelings of depression. “People spend a lot of time on social networks trying to create this picture of who they want to be. Maintaining that takes a lot of effort. [As] a teenager or young adult, the pressure to try and make people see you’re the best is really high.” I (Elizabeth) wasn’t very socially competitive, but I can understand the stress on those who are, who worry about the image they present to the world.

Robert Reich doesn’t believe the main reason to go to college should be to make lots of money. “College education [should give] young people tools for leading full and purposeful lives and having meaningful careers.” He says the starting wages of college graduates have actually dropped since 2000. “While a college education is now a prerequisite for joining the middle class, the middle class is in lousy shape. Its share of the total economic pie continues to shrink, while the share going to the very top continues to grow… Given all this, a college degree is worth the cost because it at least enables a young person to tread water. Without the degree, young people can easily drown. Some young college graduates will make it into the top 1 percent. But that route is narrower than ever. The on-ramp often requires the right connections (especially parents well inside the top 1 percent). And the off-ramps basically go in only three directions: Wall Street, corporate consulting, and Silicon Valley.”

Young people need to know who they are, what they like, and what their best strengths are or they’re at a disadvantage regarding life and career. Learning about the 9 types of people can help them zero in on these issues.

The Career Within You helps youth decide on their Enneagram type, appreciate strengths of their type, and guide them toward appropriate career choices.






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