extracurricular activities

Is College Worth it?



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By Robert B.

A College Education

There is a lot of debate today as to whether going to college is still worth the effort and investment . . . or is now a complete waste of time and money.

For a broad analysis, I believe the overall experience of college life must be factored in along with academics per se. This is because extracurricular activities for example can provide benefits and advantages after graduation.

An Engineering Major

When I went to the University of Rochester in the 1970s, I got two educations for the price of one.

The first was my Bachelor’s of Science in chemical engineering.

This is what I paid tuition for and spent years studying. Having a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) degree can lead to great careers.

The School Newspaper

The second was the education I got in writing.

As a student, I edited both the monthly college literary magazine and the feature section of the daily college newspaper.

I spent about 130 hours a semester in total producing stories and articles for these publications, and by the time I graduated in May 1979, I had put in more than a thousand hours of writing.

Skills and Competencies

Experts say that to become competent at a skill, you have to practice it for about 1,000 hours. So even though I had majored in chemical engineering, and not English, I had become an accomplished writer.

The Job Market

With that skill plus my degree in engineering, I quickly and easily received multiple job offers with companies that were looking for a writer with a good grasp of science and technology (or an engineer who could write well) — positions they told me they had great difficulty filling.

And so I became a marketing and technical writer at one of them. Today, I earn several hundred thousand dollars a year as a commercial writer specializing in technology.

A STEM degree also allowed my son to make six-figures immediately upon graduating from college.


I understand that not everybody is a fan of, or needs a college education. But I wouldn’t entirely dismiss it, as it has become fashionable today.

Many people — including college grads themselves — say that university education is unnecessary because you can become an entrepreneur or create a startup . . . and make tons of money.

Maybe. But the reality is that the average small business owner in the U.S. today has a respectable, but nowhere near spectacular income.

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1. Everyone believes that all young people should attend university. True or false?

2. Is the only important thing in university classroom studies?

3. “When I went to the University of Rochester in the 1970s, I got two educations for the price of one.” What does this mean?

4. What do coaches and instructors say about training and practice?

5. It is easy for companies to find and hire technical writers. Is this right or wrong? Why is it difficult? Do they earn a lot of money?

6. What do you think is the writer’s attitude towards education?

7. People don’t need to attend university because Bill Gates and Steve Jobs didn’t get degrees. What do you think?


A. Have most of your friends attended university? What did they major in?

B. What is the general feeling or attitude towards university education?

C. There are too many liberal arts majors and not enough STEM majors. Do you completely agree, generally agree, in the middle, so-so, it depends, I disagree, or I completely disagree?

D. Should students participate in (more) extracurricular activities, outside the classroom?

E. What will happen in the future?


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