Many of us, upon graduating from college, treat the act of graduating, and the pretty diploma that comes with it, as almost shamanic talismans. We value the diploma as a not-so-minor miracle cure and throw out, with the trash, the real, lasting value of a college education: that huge alumni network, with all of its inherent professional opportunities.
I was recently invited to a 50th reunion luncheon at a local university. The majority of attendees were retired elementary and high school teachers. Many were the first generation in their family to go to college; virtually all had what would be considered "average" lives. There were no heads of state, Nobel Prize winners, or heirs to great fortunes.