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Going Deep on College

Going a little stir-crazy at home? Us too. *Understatement of the century*

 

So, we decided to team up with questions company The Deep to bring you fun food for thought and conversation. For the next few weeks, we'll be publishing some "deep" content for you to dive into. 

Is college worth it?

Today's topic: Is college worth it? Featuring Ashley Merrill, founder of Lunya; Hillary Peterson, founder of True Botanicals; Jessy Dover, co-founder of Dagne Dover; and Sophie Kahn, co-founder of Aurate New York.

 

 

 

Ashley Merrill

Ashley Merrill, founder of Lunya

 

 

Is 22 years of age (the age at which most people graduate from college) the best time for most people to enter the workforce full-time?

Ashley: No. In an ideal world, I think it would be great for people to get some experience in the workforce prior to going to college and choosing a path. You learn so much by getting out there and getting your hands dirty.

 

If we’d asked you at 18 years old to decide on your future career, would you have chosen what you ultimately ended up doing?

Ashley: No. I was sure I wanted to be a lawyer ever since I watched Ally Mcbeal as a young girl. I took the LSAT and was about to head to law school and decided to chat with some actual lawyers about what their day-to-day looked like. After realizing that it was a little less exciting court banter and a little more reading and research, I decided it probably wasn't a fit for me.

 

Where does most of the learning and personal development of college students take place?

Ashley: Outside the classroom — college was where I learned to manage myself on my own. I had to figure out how to balance having fun with delivering what needed to be done. I remember almost nothing from college, academically speaking.

 

Is creative problem-solving important to be successful in most careers?

Ashley: Yes. The world is either a bunch of problems or a bunch of opportunities depending on much of a problem-solver you are. People who love problem-solving are able to help optimize and improve processes, businesses, and the world around them.

 

Does the American education system promote creative problem-solving?

Ashley: Yes. I surprised myself with my answer to this. Generally speaking, I think the system is designed to train linear thinking, but because the education system is so overburdened, you are almost forced to be a creative problem-solver to get what you need out of it. For example, I really really disliked the science teacher at my public high school and it sent me to see what online options I could take and transfer credits over from.

 

 

 

 

Hillary Peterson

Hillary Peterson, founder of True Botanicals

 

 

Is 22 years of age (the age at which most people graduate from college) the best time for most people to enter the workforce full-time?

Hillary: Yes, for me it was a great time to enter the workforce. In between my years in college, I had a variety of summer jobs that helped me to identify what did and did not interest me professionally (a summer catering job with a top LA caterer ruled out cooking school!) and I was ready to get out there and find my way. All people are different and for me it was an ideal time to join the workforce.

 

If we’d asked you at 18 years old to decide on your future career, would you have chosen what you ultimately ended up doing?

Hillary: No, definitely not. My career path has been one where each choice has led to the next choice and I could have never foreseen the unexpected forks in the road.

 

Where does most of the learning and personal development of college students take place?

Hillary: I would really have to say inside and outside of the classroom! Our culture in particular does not expect kids to grow up very fast, so the experience of living on my own was a big one — and so fun! At the same time, I draw on the critical thinking and communication skills that I fine tuned in college, every day.

 

Is creative problem-solving important to be successful in most careers?

Hillary: Yes, I think so! Problems are a part of life and that certainly includes our professional lives. Approaching challenges with creativity and flexibility makes work so much more fun and rewarding. It is a choice. Problems can be an irritating barrier or a puzzle. My days are a lot more fun when I am grounded and I remember to approach them like a puzzle.

 

Does the American education system promote creative problem-solving?

Hillary: Yes, in the case of some of the best liberal arts schools, I think that the American education system promotes creative problem-solving. This is why I am such a big fan of a liberal arts education.

 

 

 

 

Jessy Dover

Jessy Dover, co-founder of Dagne Dover

 

 

Is 22 years of age (the age at which most people graduate from college) the best time for most people to enter the workforce full-time?

Jessy: No, I think there is no “best time” for anyone to enter the workforce. It’s different for everyone. I really LOVE to work, and so I’ve always had some sort of job whether it be waitressing or interning so I felt ready at 22!

 

If we’d asked you at 18 years old to decide on your future career, would you have chosen what you ultimately ended up doing?

Jessy: Yes! I wanted to be a designer, have my own lifestyle brand, and be living free. I was lucky enough to have adults in my life who supported my dreams and pushed me to follow my life vision.

 

Where does most of the learning and personal development of college students take place?

Jessy: The action definitely happens outside the classroom! I do, however, think inside of the classroom is very valuable for reflection and planning. I loved my time at Parsons because it was an opportunity to escape the craziness of NYC and digest and discuss all the things I was learning about becoming an adult, from how to budget and finance my art supplies, to trying to formulate my independent opinions, etc. I had some great teachers and mentors who certainly changed my life, but my time out of the classroom was irreplaceable.

 

Is creative problem-solving important to be successful in most careers?

Jessy: Yes, there is always a way to figure things out, but you must bring a calm, creative mind.

 

Does the American education system promote creative problem-solving?

Jessy: Based on my experience at design school, I would say no. I learned at an early age that you must figure out a way to make the system work for you by creative problem-solving, but nobody told me or taught me. I relied on the trial-and-error method. The first time I realized this was when I wanted to spend a year abroad. My particular program wouldn’t allow for people to attend Parsons Paris (the sister school and only easy option for transferring credits) if they were planning to spend another semester abroad elsewhere. I was stuck in a situation that I felt was incredibly unfair. How can we be punished for having a desire to travel the world and learn from other cultures? I also knew that I did not have the power nor the time to change this policy. Instead, I decided to take a leave of absence from school and apply to Parsons Paris as a visiting student, and apply to the other semester abroad program independently. Nobody lifted an eyebrow, and I actually ended up saving a lot of money on my tuition by taking a leave of absence and transferring the credits I had earned elsewhere. Once I realized that I was the one responsible for my happiness, I learned how to creatively problem-solve and be my own life counselor. You always know what is best for YOU!

 

 

 

 

Sophie Kahn

Sophie Kahn, co-founder of Aurate New York

 

 

Is 22 years of age (the age at which most people graduate from college) the best time for most people to enter the workforce full-time?

Sophie: No. Caveat here that I’m answering this based on my personal experience. At 22, I travelled the world, started grad-school in a different country, and still felt very unsure of what I wanted and most of all extremely green. Working full-time would have definitely not been the right fit for me then. Also, you only have one life and so much time to dedicate to your career later on, why not broaden your scope first in the ‘school of life’? This is the time — use it!

 

If we’d asked you at 18 years old to decide on your future career, would you have chosen what you ultimately ended up doing?

Sophie: No. At 18, I was really struggling with how to combine my two interests which were so diverse: math and fashion. I applied both to fashion design school as well as to a quantitative economics program. In the end, I opted for the more conservative bet (parents definitely had a role there) and studied Economics and Finance. But things have a way of panning out. I eventually ended up at BCG, and then Marc Jacobs, and finally was able to combine all my interests with Aurate. I would have never been able to foresee this, it just so happened along the way as I was continuing to search for the best career fit for me.

 

Where does most of the learning and personal development of college students take place?

Sophie: Outside the classroom. Honestly, I can't remember much of what I learned in the class benches (sorry professors!). But I obviously do remember what I learned outside the classroom — you are literally growing up while in school, and the friends you make and life-lessons you get there are priceless. Don’t get me wrong, I think college is very valuable, but I do think its highest value lies in everything that surrounds the classes: your peers, the social activities, the challenges you face in terms of preparing for real life.

 

Is creative problem-solving important to be successful in most careers?

Sophie: Yes! I think being creative in solving problems matters in literally every career as well as in life. When you’re able to think outside of the box, magic happens. I worked in finance, management consulting, fashion, and now as an entrepreneur. The most valuable skill in all of these professions was being able to creatively solve issues. Even for my personal life (juggling a toddler, a baby on the way, my business, partner, and friends), it’s the best survival toolkit.

 

Does the American education system promote creative problem-solving?

Sophie: Yes, I think so. I’m originally from Amsterdam and experienced both the European and American educational system and believe the latter is much stronger in fostering and promoting creativity. All ideas are encouraged, and people are very positive and supportive towards individuality. It’s still within the confines of a system, of course, but creativity is definitely an integral part of that system. It’s part of the strength of the US, I believe, and something that needs to be fostered and continued.

 

 

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