If you know you want to become a professor or academic researcher and want to continue studying things and writing and teaching about the things you study, going to college is a good idea. That's where you'll learn about things like proper MLA citation and all kinds of midnight peer-review rituals and you'll discover the rules of the game of your field. You will learn to think like an intellectual because that's what you'll be doing: intellectualizing. We need some of that in our world, and if you have good professors who give a shit about teaching, you will learned a lot.
But what if you want to be an educated citizen who values happiness and equanimity as top priorities? Preemptive rebuttal: academics and those cultivated in the spirit of the academic university system tend not to be at ease nor happy. My peer-reviewed source is what I call "experience" -- I have seen hundreds of them up-close over the last 10 years. If you remain skeptical, read Lolita, or Lucky Jim, or Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, or Stoner, all juicy works of literature and you'll get a feel for the problem. Also: some academics are supremely happy, or plenty happy, or just happy enough, so pardon the generalization if it offends -- I'm all for happiness, no matter where it exists.
My own data, however, reveals that people who are interested in discovering their genuine passion and developing their character -- things like patience, morality, generosity, enthusiasm, and wisdom -- or "simply" finding space to just be for a few seasons but don't want to float with no direction, well, in our current system, these spirits don't have many options outside of getting a job or going to college and then immediately getting a job. Bruce Springsteen might have written a few songs about this. From my curious vantage, that's not good. (The urgency to "get a job!" not Bruce Springsteen -- The Boss is quite good and ought not be ridiculed under any circumstances.)
And this poop-fest is getting worse. Even if things like the academic study of the humanities and philosophy were to lead people to happier lives -- they don't, because they are academic pursuits rather than embodied ones -- universities are currently incentivizing students not to study those most useless disciplines. Throw in art and music and dance and history, then add an "etc" if you want the full list. Read this to see what I mean.
I wrote this reflection because I'm starting to get unsolicited inquires into www.atxschooloflife.org from distant lands connected by the interwebs, which is exciting and affirming, but I need to begin to articulate exactly why I'm staring this alternative educational space and why I'm structuring it the way I am. So maybe one possibility is that The School of Life is a space where being a dedicated student of wisdom, clarity, and analytical thinking won't be considered useless and will lead students to professions out of an increasingly clear sense of aspiration instead of just doing what you're told.