I have a neighbor in my hometown that I talk to a few times per year. Each time he conveniently forgets everything he has ever known about me, and inevitably asks about my school and major, and then is baffled time after time when I tell him it’s Political Science. “What are you going to do with that?” he asks. When I tell him the plan is law school, he still questions; “And what if you didn’t get into a school? What can you do with a degree in Political Science?”

As a senior, I can tell you with confidence that these redundant conversations have not made me question my choice of major. Since high school, I have had an obsession with politics and history, and a desire to go to law school. Political Science is a natural choice for such aspirations—my father did the same—and it was something I knew I could do well. I am a writer who enjoys the finesse of semantics, and the retaining of information from the social sciences that makes most people bored senseless.

There is an everlasting debate about the value and purpose of secondary education. The amount of student loan debt nationwide has recently surpassed credit card debt, and there are numerous horror stories of recent grads that owe hundreds of thousands and have no job to show for it. This has forced many analysts to question the very value of a college degree. What is the purpose of a degree in English or Art that isn’t universally applicable like Marketing or Business?

I am here to tell you to pursue your interest. If your interest is only in making money off of your talents, then by all means pursue that venture. But what you should do as a degree, a career choice, and life decision is to examine whether or not you enjoy it and are happy with what you are doing. Our society turns out enough unhappy drones programmed to maximize profit and crunch numbers to get a bigger paycheck. The hiring practices of some of the prestigious businesses and firms are rightfully no longer just looking for people who look perfect on paper with a stereotypical resume to satisfy their employee or school makeup.

What’s far more important is what your value to society is. It can’t be quantified just by how much product you sell or what your grad school test scores are. Value is also measured in emotional intelligence, people skills, altruism, and community involvement, however vague the gauge on those may be. Your value is also in your sense of self-worth, and that can be attained with any type of major, specialty, or career.

Your time here at UW-Eau Claire or any institution dedicated to betterment should not be a process of going through the motions. It should genuinely be an experience that fulfills your basic need as a human for progress; however you define it and you alone.

Deem your college career successful by the lifelong friends you meet, the unique things you do, and the things you learn out of genuine interest. It’s about you, and don’t compromise that for something fake or average.

The value of a college degree, despite data about debt and college grad unemployment, is undisputable. Simply achieving a degree or job training experience increases your value to any employer and is almost guaranteed to increase your lifelong earnings than someone who did not pursue anything.

“What if you don’t get into law school?” my neighbor asks. Well then I got a damn fine education, sir. And I enjoyed it. The knowledge, experience, and friends I have made are more valuable to me than any sum of money.