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Does college make you a “better” person?


My Squier is on Fire !!!
Gold Supporting Member
Nov 5, 2016
New York
That’s a great question and a very real topic in my house right now. In my opinion, no, college does not make you a better person. Only you can make you a better person.

I am a mechanic. I started turning wrenches professionally in 1988. The same year I graduated high school. My wife is also working with just a high school diploma and she does payroll for a small business. Am I rich? No. But I own my house outright and literally have 0 debt. So the trades have been good to me.

I have two sons. I have always encouraged them to go to college. Not to make them a better person, but to have more doors open to them as they find their path in life. I am paying for their college, so there is no reason they shouldn’t. My oldest is currently at UMD with a chemical engineer major. My youngest is getting ready to start high school, and if I had to guess, he will go into the trades. He is every bit as smart as his older brother, he is just a lot more hands on. A lot like me! Even though I will still keep encouraging the college path, I will be proud of him and support him regardless of which path he chooses.

Good decision and hard work will make you successful in life, regardless of your education.

College does not make someone a better person. Many college degrees are absolutely useless. But there are many degrees that can open doors and give opportunities which won't exist otherwise.

I have the utmost respect for Doug. I have a BS in Industrial Engineering, BA in Statistics, MS in Industrial Engineering, MA in Teaching, and am currently working on an MBA. I'm book smart, which makes me a good teacher. But my abilities pale in comparison to Doug. He has skills and abilities that I only wish I had. In many ways, I am envious.

As an educator, I have seen how this push for college has hurt so many young people who would have been better off if they were steered towards a vocation or a skill. So many of my past students failed out of college and were left with a ton of debt. Many others chose useless majors and can't find legitimate work to pay off their astronomical student loans.

I have three girls, all of whom are expected to go to college ... with the intention of a STEM major. They can minor or double major in something else "fun" if they want. But their primary degrees must be something which can earn them a well paying career.

But college does not make a person better.

Las Palmas Norte

Feb 19, 2017
Vancouver Island, Canada
“College will make you a better person”.
I can't say for certain, having never attended. I strongly suggest only you (as an individual) are responsible for making yourself a better person. Many of the discoveries and understandings of life are not taught in any school.
Having said that, an education of any type is beneficial to some degree.

Uncle Joe

Dec 18, 2015
Anecdotally, regarding wealth, my family's generation of individual net worth is in inverse proportion to academic reputation of the schools attended and the number of degrees held. Just how it worked out. I think the individual wealth was more a result of choices and drive rather than intelligence or any type of certifications. One sibling graduated from an Ivy League school, and he has the least net worth, financially. The one with the least education reads the most, for the past forty years. Didn't read as much in school, when he was too busy juggling coeds.

Regarding my kids, I helped fairly significantly. More than the cost of my home, less than the current value. The oldest dropped out of a biology major in order to attain her undergraduate degree in human development. She then went on for her masters, working for the school, and earned a number of state certifications that empower advancement in the world of social work. She's educational debt free and enjoying her life very much, owning a home (with her wife and the bank) and working just outside the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. So, STEM was not a prerequisite for her ability to achieve financial stability, and certainly not for her happiness. She even stepped back from the private sector because it was too stressful. She prefers working with kids.

Our middle daughter is "Girl Boss", according to our sixteen-year-old. She's doing very well, graduated with a business degree from one of the nation's top accounting universities, earned her CPA, worked like a dog for the big accounting firm KPMG for a number of years, then went corporate, working for a former KPMGer. She recently decided to take another "big promotion" after some hemming and hawing. I suspect it won't be long before she leaves me in the income dust. Her future husband is a financial guy in Boston. They do well.

It will be interesting to see what our youngest decides. She's sixteen, and the latest is guitar lessons. She is on the go 24/7. School, church, volunteering, work. She's avoiding the decision to sign with a university to play soccer. Basically, taking a mental health break for winter. Fine with us. As long as she's happy. And she is. So far, so good. I'm most worried about getting in the car with her as she practices driving in anticipation of her DL test later this year. Yikes. I'm too old for that. The age helps when it comes to child-rearing though. The toughest part is letting them choose for themselves. You can't choose for them, and I don't believe you should try to.


May 29, 2014
The Monadnocks, NH USA
So many here have accumulated practical wisdom. And it shows. In their comments. In their lives.

That there is no formula for success -- not even a universal definition of it in human terms -- is often one of life's last learned lessons. Often coming almost as late as the appreciation for the value of simple kindness.

One of the things I value most -- and this is far from universal -- is the absolute right to think for myself and be free from coercion to go along with what I personally want no part of.

That to some is the antithesis of being a "better" person. Forced mediocrity is for far too many the forced result, accompanied by bitterness, jealousy and angst.

Be who you want to be. That is each of our "rights."

And keeping distance from one-another is another. -One increasingly resisted but to me essential.

Go to school, or don't. Choose self-discipline or the other extreme -- even wantoness. Do what you want with your life -- and accept the consequences for that choice; those choices.

Free/Responsible. In equal measure.

No, it is not "fair." What it is is life.

Is that being a "better"person?

That, too, you should remain free to decide for yourself.

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Hadronic Spin

Affinity Rulez!
Jan 27, 2021
Los Angeles
What college did for me.


The woman who adopted did nothing to get me engaged in anything, all she wanted was no noise and chores done. She cared less if I went to school, and had no ambitions for her adopted son. I went to school, did just enough to get by. I did not cause problems, nor did I ever get into trouble in those years. Ghost kid.

As I approached liberation day, 18 years of age, my sole focus was to get out on my own. College was nowhere in the plan. I got out, got into retail, and scraped by for 3 years until I got the job at USPS. New goals; make USPS a career and retire from it. It was a helluva a ride, but I did it.

Now to the college part.

Into my USPS career, I had this gnawing feeling at my core; could I have handled higher education? I began to question the minimal effort I gave in my schooling, could I do better or am I that minimal effort guy...? I decided to find out, and got the ball rolling.

I enrolled at Pierce College for night courses, but my entrance exams proved I had previously learned little. So, I had to get to high school level in both English and Math, and I was able to do that at Pierce with night courses. My collegiate journey began.

So, I was working 10 to 12 hour days at the post office, then head off to Pierce after-work for either class or library study. I worked on homework nightly, until I passed out. I struggled, I was exhausted but I had to prove to myself I could succeed. I had to prove to myself I was not that ghost-kid anymore...

I got through basic English and Math; 4.0 GPA. Now comes the real college courses, my major is Photojournalism.

For the next three semesters, I was taking 6 to 8 credits a semester. I was working my butt off at work, and working my mind-off the rest of the time. Class, study, homework, research, work, rinse and repeat. Again, I struggled early in some courses and concerned a couple of professors, which led me to double-down my efforts. I could never be that ghost-kid again.

After three semesters, I was done. Burned out. No more. However, I proved to myself that with effort, drive, determination and time, I could achieve anything. I was not the product of my past, I am the person who I make myself to be today.

College gave me that...



PS: I maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout my studies at Pierce...


Double Platinum Member
Jan 25, 2022
I only made it a year! My poor Dad had three of us in College and we were told we have to pay Half? I packed up my Saab Wagon and moved from Cape Cod to Tucson. Never looked back! Put in 47 years Retail. I ran a Night Crew at Lucky Stores with 14 Stockers at 48 Hours! 11pm to 8am. Talk about no Social Life and trying to sleep in the day? Then I went to Meatcutting School and made good money as a Butcher. They used me as a Relief Manager when one had a Vacation. I saw both Lucky's and A J Bayless just close up one by one. I got into making Custom Fit Golf Clubs (Clones) and opened a Store in Tucson. Made it 10 years but never showed a Profit. Moved to Phoenix and got just my A+ Certification, 5 years of Home Computer Repair in Phoenix and Idaho before doing 7.5 years of "Hard Labor" at the State Liquor Stores. Will work for Benefits! I started at $8.95 an hour? Who can live on that? Retired at 62.5 thanks to my Parents having some Money for us when Passing. RIP! :cool: :cool:


May 29, 2014
The Monadnocks, NH USA
could achieve anything. I was not the product of my past, I am the person who I make myself to be today.

College gave me that...
Love it!

I suspect that if it hadn’t been college, it’d have been something else. That because it was YOU that won that battle.

I, too, was an invisable kid. Never a problem to anyone, just not “there.”

My parents were not disinterested, but they knew not what I was, apart from a “nice kid.” A mystery.

My dad and sisters would watch TV. It bored me so I’d instead go to my room and read, and draw, and paint, and sculpt.

One teacher, in 5th grade, realized that there was someone hiding away In the quiet kid. I’d given him reason to - or to really dislike me — that when ever-silent me in the back row raised my hand and then stood and firmly told him he was wrong — being unfair — to another kid in the class.

What??? Silent ‘Donny’ speaking out?

But instead of being angry he that evening called my parents with words of praise. And after that I was brought forth. Encouraged to be fully me - just for that one year.

But that was all I needed. That and, via this teacher, finding a friend. The fellow who a few years later became my guitar buddy - and, later yet, the lead singer in The Abstracts. (He is still counted among my closest friends)

From there life for me took off. At college (the Film School, SVA) I found my place. Flew like I was meant to. Linked up with people who opened doors.

So for me “college” (‘art school’ really, then for a short stretch post grad studies at NYU) was a secondary launch pad. Not for the career I’d studied for, but for life Itself.

Being a “better” person came a bit later. That through spiritual studies. And for me finding Christ.

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Naked Strat Brat

Gold Supporting Member
Mar 27, 2022
North, Snow, UFO Ville!
I am in the trades and while we build houses we hire dozens of subcontractors and I have seen so many people with so many wildly different points of view. I love it.

It’s the most diverse group of people I have ever seen but down to the last worker who is a parent, none want their kids to go into the field.

They push their kids to college and say,

“College will make you a better person”.

Previously I have come from fields where all of us had four year degrees and never once heard this statement or goal for their offspring.
Even a doctorate degree is not the academia remedy for work ethics, skill sets that are not part of any formal classroom.


May 29, 2014
The Monadnocks, NH USA
Even a doctorate degree is not the academia remedy for work ethics, skill sets that are not part of any formal classroom.
True today for sure. But that was not always so.

Part of teaching, once upon a time, and that at all levels, was building character, and that included the development of a work ethic.

Just “passing” required it. Work hard, grow, or get tossed. That was the paradigm. And grow young students did.



Jan 2, 2023
Palm Coast, FL
College gave me knowledge that I would've ordinarily had to learn the hard way. And to an extent college degree only goes so far, you still have to live thru the experience to be the "expert" anyway. That's why there are internship programs. What I've seen over a few decades, if you aren't their hand picked winner as the anointed one, you'll be an also ran every time. What a degree does do, it demonstrates that you put together 4 years of study to earn that degree. There is no guarantee of success with any of it.

Me, 2 BSBA's Marketing & Accounting. Also put myself thru Oracle University for Database Administrator courses. The Oracle database thing, just because you put yourself thru it, paid for it, doesn't mean an employer ever hires you for that position, even pays you the going rate. They'll still low ball to acquire benefits of the education to pay as little as possible. There's the "working poor" in any occupation.
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Jun 8, 2017
Honolulu, HI
College MAY make you a more informed person, with exposure to more diverse areas of knowledge, ideas, and people from different walks of life, depending on where you attend and what courses you take, but it won't necessarily make you a better person. There are many educated people that are scum, and many high school dropouts that are good people with a good heart. College doesn't teach you ethics, so what you do with that increased education and knowledge is up to you.
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May 29, 2014
The Monadnocks, NH USA
Me, 2 BSBA's Marketing & Accounting. Also put myself thru Oracle University for Database Administrator courses. The Oracle database thing, just because you put yourself thru it, paid for it, doesn't mean an employer ever hires you for that position, even pays you the going rate. They'll still low ball to acquire benefits of the education to pay as little as possible. There's the"working poor" in any occupation

To me the most useful marketting class is one few colleges seem to offer. (Any?) That of how to successfully market ourselves.

I know so many capable people who with that understanding would have flown. But without it they year after year waited for some air traffic controller somewhere to tell them “it’s time for you to fly.”

Lesson one of that course should emphisize that no one will recognize our worth - and pay us accordingly — if we don’t both recognize it ourselves, and require that those hiring us do so too.

Does anyone make it through life without this being tested from time to time?

But for many of us it us not natural. So we wait and wait for someone else to take note. Even though they profit from not doing so.

Prove your worth/demand commensurate pay.

When Ducati first approached me to write columns they thought the honor of doing so would be enough. I told them that I did free work for non-profits. But not for for profit companies.

One freebie I would provide - an already written piece. After that would require truly fair remuneration.

I was later told that my response was so unexpected that the decision — approval — had to be made at the very top - by the company’s CEO himself. That one piece slightly edited for its new audience proved my worth to him. But laying it out that way surely tested my own principle, because I really, really, wanted that gig!

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