Tetmeyer: Why did I go to college?


Courtesy of Joshua Hoehne via Unsplash

Columnist Grant Tetmeyer questions his decision to attend college. 

Grant Tetmeyer

Why did I go to college? It’s a question we usually ask about the future: “why should I go to college?” but as I approach the end, I ask myself the question as a reflection. To really sit and examine my choices and my experience over the last four years here. Because the reasons that I went to college are no longer the reasons I’m graduating. The reasons I chose Iowa State are no longer the reasons I’m graduating as a Cyclone. What I was told in high school about college has been unequivocally proven to be a massive crock of shit. No professor I’ve had has been mad that I was late or on my phone or talking quietly to my friend. Because I’m paying thousands to go here, and they get paid either way.  

Maybe it was tradition. I am a third generation Cyclone. My grandfather, Mom, Dad, both uncles, my cousin and my aunt all attended Iowa State. I was going to football games and tailgates before I could even control my own bowels. I was a Little Clone all the way up to my eighteenth, so my parents didn’t have to pay full rate for me and my sister’s tickets. College was expected, and Iowa State was strongly encouraged. College was just the next step. I never thought of anything else. Never processed another option. Did I choose to go?

Maybe it was the community. College is always described as the best time of your life. You get to meet a number of new people and try so many new things that you would never be able to do without it. I mean, where else other than the internet, a distillery, a community center or a community college can you take a wine and spirits class?

Though, as I think, it is just the same social structure and interactions as high school. I made friends in my department and didn’t really mix it up. I probably couldn’t even tell you where some of the buildings are or even the names of some people in my department, even though there are only 90 or so kids in the whole thing. I’ll chalk that up to being a senior and not wanting to learn names I’ll never remember in a year. 

Maybe it was to help get that good-paying job. That’s the biggest selling point for college, right? That if you go through just four more years of intensive instruction and take on an obscene amount of debt, you’ll be able to get a job that is much higher paying right out of college and be able to pay that debt off quickly. That this institution will be the key to you finding major success in life, both financially and socially. I mean, after all, networking is a big part of college. Though as I sit and write this, I have been rejected from at least ten jobs in the last few weeks. A number of which fit the exact field of study I chose to study. And I have yet to even be offered a first-round interview. Of course, I’m reminded of the wise words of my Mom.

Finding a job isn’t easy. It’s a numbers game and being tenacious.”

But wasn’t that the pitch? Wasn’t it supposed to be easier?  Hell, isn’t the pitch now that getting a good job is next to impossible without a stamped piece of paper stating that you are, indeed, smart enough. And it seems that we are approaching the trend of “a college diploma and three years experience” before you can get a job. And everyone knows that it’s hard to get an entry job with no experience, contrary to the point of entry-level jobs. 

So, after all this, I am still left with that question. The same question that follows every major life choice or event. Something that really shouldn’t be associated with college. Was it worth it?