The best definition of success is a person taking a holistic view of their life and walking away with a big smile on their face.
The New York Times wrote an article this month discussing how more college freshmen are reporting cases of depression. This trend does not surprise me when these freshmen have to live with the possibility of getting their bachelor's degree in 6 years instead of 4.
Some college students realize that during some point in college that they are no longer engaged in their initial major and feel the need to change it, which prolongs their time in college. Another reason is that overcrowded classes can make it impossible for students to take the necessary courses to graduate on time (even one unavailable prerequisite can cost a student an entire year).
In the New York Times article, they referred to a survey conducted by the UCLA's Cooperative Institutional Research Program, which assessed hundreds of factors that may cause depression. Political views and exercise habits were two of the many factors that were mentioned in the survey. While the survey makes a few good points, I think the most important thing to highlight is the ways that we can prevent these rising cases of depression.
While awareness is growing about the true yields of a college education, there are a lot of parents that still believe that their children must go to college to be successful. Fortunately, this is no longer true in most cases. Students who are attending college for specialized professions will benefit from a college degree. A lot of these specialized professions does not provide any other option. For example, if you want to be a medical doctor, you must go to college.
Is it fair for parents to save money for their children's college fund or to co-sign on their child's student loans, only for it to be wasted because they're unable to find a high paying career? Of course not. If college graduates are dying with unpaid student loan debt because their jobs don't pay enough, why is college even being considered?
There are popular adages that say "do what you love" and "follow your passion." I don't disagree with these statements. However, I don't think it is sensible to go to college for music, photography, or art history. I'm not suggesting that these students abandon these types of careers. They just don't need to go to college for it.
In my younger years, I lived with someone who graduated with a bachelor's degree of music. He had 4 brothers and sisters while coming from a low income household. So, due to his lack of finances, his only option was to apply for financial aid, which was 20% grants and 80% student loans. He graduated with $54,000 in student loan debt and no good job prospects. He decided to move to Austin for better career opportunities in music. The only problem is that Austin is overwhelmed with starving musicians. He's been there for 3 years and still works at a diner as a waiter.
If you want to study at a great music program, consider tuition free options like the Curtis Institute of Music or Yale University's School of Music. Avoid being a victim of naivety or arrogance because it will cost you (literally).