This post was a long time coming. It’s the emails you guys.
Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing from readers. However, I get a lot of emails from people asking me for advice- which honestly, it’s hard for me to understand why anyone would ask ME, the girl who can’t be bothered to change out of sweatpants most days, for seriously life advice.
People do though, and I always try my best to give them a wise answer that hopefully won’t totally screw up their life if they listen to me. Which isn’t always easy.
Anyways, a very common question that I am asked often is some variation of this:
“I’m a sophomore/junior/ incoming freshman in college. I am desperate to travel and see the world! I want to leave right away but my parents/friends/ conscience thinks I should wait and finish my degree. What do I do?”
Listen up: I have no control over your life, nor do I want to have control over your life. That said, I am NEVER going to advise someone to drop out of college.
Now maybe I seem like someone who would be sympathetic, and trust me I am. Take a year off before/after/in the middle of college to travel if you want. It’s good for you. But don’t throw college out the window entirely. Here is my reasoning:
Education is Valuable
Someone in the comments is going to try to debate me on whether a college degree is worth anything anymore in this economy, I just know it. That’s not what I’m talking about. Credentials can be useful, but even more useful is knowledge.
If you do it correctly college teaches you so much. I can honestly say there is no way I could be doing my current job without those 4 years of education under my belt. Critical thinking, time management, work ethic, college taught me all these things. Not to mention how to write clearly and comprehensively. My job may not directly require a degree but without the writing skills that I learned in college I would never in a million years be able to make a living this way.
You Can Travel AND Go to College
The fact is that travel and education are not mutually exclusive, in fact they go together really really well. There are a ton of opportunities to travel while you are in college.
Study abroad programs are the most obvious answer. I never understood why more people don’t take advantage of study abroad options. Theoretically you could spend as much as half of your college years living in other countries (I know people who have done it). Studying abroad is also a great way to get your feet wet with the experience of living abroad.
If that doesn’t work with your academic schedule, there are still tons of other opportunities: volunteer trips, summer programs, hell even just backpacking around on your own one summer. Our write Kay is a full time student and she has written tons of articles on the subject including: Challenges of a Traveling College Student, The Honest Truth About Studying Abroad and Ways to Travel Post-Graduation.
The World Isn’t Going Anywhere
This may sound off from someone whose website tagline is “Why Wait to See the World?” I think that’s why I get a lot of these emails: people feel this urgency, that they need to take control of their life right now or it will never happen, the opportunity will slip through their fingers like sand. I totally understand that.
But I also know, from experience, that is not how it works. This is not your one chance to seize the world.
Do people drop out of college for good reasons? Sometimes, yes. My Dad dropped out his sophomore year and drove cross country. He went back though because he realized that education is important in all of it’s different forms. He went on to get two Master’s degrees.
Finally, I will leave you guys with the piece of advice I give most people who write to me: If you are asking random people on the internet to weigh in on your life choices, chances are you already know the answer to your question. Deep down you know it, you just can’t, or don’t want to acknowledge it.
This is a blog about living a purposeful life. College, like travel, can have a huge impact on your life when done correctly. Don’t sleepwalk through your education, embrace it, use it, make it work for you. Then take it for a spin around the globe.