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The other day my Political Philosophy professor proposed a question to my class that has perplexed my mind for the past few days. He asked us, in complete seriousness, "If you won a $24 million lottery, would you drop out of college?"
Some students snickered, and nodded their heads. Others continued texting their friends and checking Facebook notifications. But the large percentage of the class kind of sat there, with knitted brows, not really sure how to answer.
My professor then asked for those of us who would drop out of college to raise our hands. Surprisingly, there were fewer than 10 hands raised out of this 200 person lecture. Then, you guessed it, my professor asked for the people who would continue with their college education to raise their hands, and more than 85% of the class confidently did so.
"But, why?" my professor asked us. And that's the question that has been following me around.
My peers had varying answers. Some said they would stay in college for superficial reasons i.e. fear of being judged by society for not going through with their education. Others thought the type of intellectual conversations and information they had/learned in college gave meaning to their life, something that couldn't be replaced. Most of us just shrugged our shoulders, because if we're being honest with ourselves, do we really know why we're here? Is it because our parents pushed us to go to college or because we really want to be here?
I've always had a love for learning, but I'm not going to lie, if I had a choice on whether or not to take a class about Political Philosophy, I would pass on the opportunity. There are more than a few classes for my major that I wish I could just skip over, mostly because I have zero interest in the topic.
For example, I'm a Political Science major, and it's required for me to take two science classes and a lab, a field completely different from what I want to get into. It feels like a complete waste of my time to be taking these classes. I can't help but think how easy it would be for me (assuming I've won the lottery my professor proposed) to drop out of school and focus on the things I really want out of life, like traveling the world and mind-blowingly good brunch food.
In all seriousness, really think about how much you could learn and experience, and how much meaning you can add to your life by participating in thousands of cultures the world has to offer. Traveling the world is the dream, at least for me it is, and to have that opportunity at my fingertips through all my lottery money would be so tempting to take advantage of.
But sometimes you have to take a step back from "the dream", and think about the kind of life you want to live. If I dropped out of college now, that's got to be thousands of pages in books and hundreds of hours of lectures I would lose in knowledge.
Knowledge is an interesting term. I'm positive I would learn so much from traveling the world, but I'm also positive I wouldn't learn the proper ways to use the quadratic formula or experience what it's like being in a sorority. College is more than just going to class, passing (or failing) it, and doing homework. I've only been here for a little more than a semester, but within that time period, I know that I've matured more and overall grown as a person.
College is about the whole experience. Going to class and learning is a given, but along with that package is learning how to live on our own for the first time and starting a life separate from the hometown we were raised in. I think that's why college is such a special place. You learn about whatever you're majoring in while learning about yourself and growing as a person.
But going back to the question my professor proposed, the main thing I realized is that I want a college education. Even if I don't want to take my required science classes, I can't deny that I'll learn something in them. Maybe I won't use that information on a daily basis, but at least I had the opportunity to get that education. Money is a powerful tool, but knowledge and money as a combination is x100 more powerful and useful.
Knowledge adds meaning to my life. It gives me the opportunity to see things from new perspectives through every lecture and in class discussion. I learn something new about the world everyday and this has elevated my appreciation of my experiences traveling to new cultures. To me, college is an irreplaceable privileged that anyone who has the ability should take advantage of.
So, Mr. Professor, no, I would not drop out of college. Hell, I'll even go to grad school with that kind of money. Not for superficial reasons, and not just because my parents want me to pursue a college education, but because I want a college education. I want to live in a world where I understand what is happening around me and how everything came to be. To me, the knowledge leading to that kind of awareness is more valuable than any lottery prize I could ever win.
So, what would you do if you won the lottery?
This article originally appeared on The Odyssey, the ultimate source for millennial content written for students, by students. The content captures real conversations in local communities across the country. Breana Brill is a contributing writer for The Odyssey and a first year student at Michigan State University.