Let me just say that I am not against college as a rule. Degrees like engineering, biology, etc. are incredibly important to not only get educated in, but also accredited in. However, there are a lot of pointless degrees out there.
Since I was a young child, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I loved writing (as you can guess since I run a writing/reading blog). So it made sense to me when I was nearing high school graduation to go to college for English.
I went in knowing how to write and I came out feeling stupider than when I went in. And so many people I know had similar experiences with a Creative Writing degree at multiple collages. So what is wrong with Creative Writing programs? And why do I know believe, two years after I graduated myself, that a Creative Writing degree is useless
Feeling vs. Thinking
One of the biggest issues I found in the majority of my English classes was the emphasis towards subjective relativity instead of teaching concepts and ideas.
Let me give you an example. I took a poetry class back in college, and I learned less than what I’m learning just this month during NaPoWriMo, where I’m looking up different styles of poetry and trying them. Instead of challenging a student, the teacher instead tells them to “express themselves.” But the only problem is that feelings cannot be taught and thus, if thinking is not taught, than nothing is taught.
Let me ask you. What is a McGuffin? What is a Metonymy? What is Verisimilitude? Odds are that if you went to college for Creative Writing, you would know none of these terms. Even things such as alliteration, motif, personification, and oxymoron I only knew about because I learned them during my homeschooling years in high school. My point is that I learned almost nothing about actual writing standards and ideas that could broaden my own understanding of the world. Instead, my teachers gave all the emphasis to either political agenda and personal experience.
Don’t get me wrong, feelings are incredibly important for writing. However, they cannot be taught. They are natural, whereas learning about literary concepts cannot be learned by feeling them.
Real World Experience
When I started my Creative Writing degree, I was told that most businesses loved writers because many people don’t have even passable writing abilities. This may be true—though I try to think of best of humanity. However, that does not mean that any class offered in the average Creative Writing program will give you the abilities that will aid you in the real world.
I find this is the sad reality of most college degrees, and not just English degrees. Will you ever need to know advanced calculous as an accountant? I doubt it. Similarly, writing is more about knowing how to produce writing that businesses want.
Do you know how to write a formal business proposal? Even a formal email? Know how to create a presentation on PowerPoint? Or how to work Excel spreadsheets? If you went to my college for English, than the answer is a firm No!
Let me just say that not all my classes were useless. I took a speech class my first semester that really helped me learn how to formulate a proper speech and get over my nervousness speaking in front of an audience.
But, honestly, I’ve learned more about writing since graduating from college than I did in there. Most employers are looking for experience over education when it comes to writing. For example, if I put on my resume that I had a college degree in English, it would mean a lot less than if I said (I’ll use my blog for an example since, well, I’m writing this essay here) I ran a blog that had over a thousand hits a month (or whatever number it might be). That, or if I had several articles published in prominent publications.
So Creative Writing classes give you little useful information that you could not learn merely by reading and practicing writing yourself.
Cost vs. Value
I do this thing every time I buy something. Let’s say I see a shirt that is cute. I look at the price and I think about how much value I would give to that shirt. If I love it and know I’m going to wear it all the time, I’d be willing to pay a lot more than if I think it’s cute, but will probably only wear it once a year.
I personally think people should think this way about college too. If you value education a lot, than go ahead and pay tens of thousands of dollars per year for college. However, if you give higher value to hard knowledge and hard work, than often times college is just not worth it in the modern age.
In my mother’s day, if you had a four-year degree, you were pretty much guaranteed a job. Now, that is not the case. Sure, if you get specific degrees (nursing, engineers, etc.) that are in high demand, than you might get a job straight out of college. But for most people a degree is simply a piece of paper.
So, what is college really worth to you?
My point is not to tell people not to go to college. However, I do want students to have realistic expectations. I don’t want a student to leave college with massive debt and having little knowledge to show for the money. If I pay for a class, I want to learn a lot.
I’m not saying I didn’t learn things in college. For example, I learned how not to write. How lazy many students are (with most of my classes, though, I couldn’t really blame them). How to please my teachers while still developing my writing outside of class. I had the opportunity to join a writing club in college, which was honestly more helpful to me than any of my classes had been (and club was free!).
If you went to college in recent years, I’m curious if you found it useful in aiding you in your career? Let me know your thoughts about college down in the comments, and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,