Is it even necessary anymore? Why spend all that money just to come out confused and enter the workforce later than others who jumped...

Should I Go to College...


Is it even necessary anymore?
Why spend all that money just to come out confused and enter the workforce later than others who jumped in right after high school?
I have been working with students at a local high school this year and they've been asking me these and other questions. Positing several "what if" statements and in the same breath pointing out the negative possible outcomes of attending college to share with me their reservations in pursuit of higher education.
I have mixed feelings on this. I went to an art school to acquire an art degree and the ability to be a creative in the video game industry. I had the wrong intentions and mindset going in for my degree. It was very often you could hear me arrogantly boast "I have more raw talent in my pinky than most of those people out there do in their degree!" I was half right, but I was oh so wrong and my pride cost me a lot more than that degree did.
At the time I began college, 3D animation was only just becoming a thing every school started building programs for, and I was advanced for what I'd known at the time. However, while I was busy telling everyone how awesome I was and playing video games during class, the rest of my classmates started studying more and more, and sitting down with the teachers and learning more. They’d practice into the wee hours of the night trying to learn and be the best they could. Before I knew it, I was so far behind, my wounded pride wouldn't allow me to admit my deficiency, and I graduated with far less skill and absolutely zero talent as compared to my fellow classmates.
I was so certain all I needed was a piece of paper, confirming what I had already convinced myself to be true, so I could run off and start the most epic studio of all time! A few friends and I were indeed working on building a studio during my sophomore year and continued well after I graduated and in all fairness I could get those guys to make some bad ass art as an art director for our studio. Sadly, my own artwork took a back seat in favor of trying to be the business guy, and I didn’t practice, and didn't admit that I was a terrible artist.
Even though I’d been told I shouldn't have a degree two days before graduation (Thank you Mr. Buffalo, I REALLY needed to hear that.), my young pride and self-assurance was so strong, that I wouldn't actually grow to begin to understand that statement and finally sit down to learn art until just three years prior to the publication of this article. Sure I worked my butt off learning program techniques, and filter setups, I could work from imagination and my composition was something I was naturally good at; What I was really good at was the “fake it til you make it” mentality.
A little too good…
You see, I openly blamed my school for my lack of understanding the principles of art and the inability to apply the core principles of animation that I had been taught. I haughtily threw my teachers under the bus and blamed them for my failure to draw the way I’d always wanted to. I trashed my school that I fought so hard to go to in the first place and tarnished the good names of some excellent instructors for the sake of my ego. Then slowly, over time, the arrogance started to fade, I started to see myself as I was: a dreamer with no discipline and no hope of actually making a life doing that which I’d longed for my entire life. The depression crept in and sat heavy on my chest as I toiled away in retail hell for five solid years.
In the meantime, I did practice, but only half-heartedly and I watched video tutorials and bought books assuming each next one would give me the key to unlock the creativity that burned so deeply inside of me. I took paying gigs knowing I did not know how I was going to create the art and would B.S. my way through the project citing and regurgitating the information I’d been consuming expecting that each new project would be the one. The one project that would launch my mega career and everyone would shower me with praise and job offers. It never happened, those moments that I convinced myself were just around the corner never came to pass.
It wasn't until I sat down and had an honest conversation with myself about who I was and what I wanted, faced my demons, and admitted that I was a confirmed and bona fide slacker, that I actually began to learn what my teachers sought to share with me 10 years ago.
This write up serves as a reminder to all who desire something in life. You can have it, if you believe it and go after it. You can learn if you practice obsessively. You can grow, if you listen well. Teachers have a gift they want to share with you. They see your potential and even though you throw on a mask of self-assurance and talent, they can see right through it and actually see your potential for greatness and your current soul crushing self-doubt. They look beyond what you are showing them to what potential you really have and that’s why they get angry and frustrated when you don’t settle down and listen.
It also serves as my apology to Alex Buffalo, Brian Immel, Richard Harrington, Christopher Reese, Patricia Kreup, Kay Christy, Michael Davidson, and Judith Desplechin who were among the more active teachers that were trying to get me to let my guard down in order to be able to learn what they wanted to share. They saw my potential and fought for me even though I would not fight for myself. Unfortunately I was a complete doorknob and missed the opportunity to truly learn from these amazing individuals. Not a day goes by that I don’t sit down to work and hear their encouraging words play in my ears.
The funny thing is, all these ten years later, I am just now beginning to understand what drove them to want to teach in the first place. I now have students of my own, for entrepreneurship, spirituality, and design and graphic principles. I see the vast potential that lies in our future generations and I want that. I don’t even care about my own success anymore. I only desire helping others to achieve their own and to discover personal freedom.
So, to the question of whether college is the place for you, I cannot answer that. You have to decide that for yourself. I can tell you, there are tons of free resources and information online, but at the end of the day nothing beats having a teacher who possesses the ability to open your mind. You have to approach it the right way, and admit that you may not know all that you think you know, but the sooner you let your guard down, the sooner you'll truly soar!
**TLDR: Wasted my time in college because I thought I was hot shit. Pissed teachers off that were actually trying to help me by ignoring them. Took forever to pull my head out of my ass only to realize what a huge opportunity I had missed. Now I'm becoming a teacher and am paying my dues in the same way. I can't answer the question about college for you, it was just meant to make you think and open your mind.**

(This was originally posted on my LinkedIn)