Is College Worth It?

July 24, 2011

Economy-Financial, Education

With the job market the way it is I am asking if spending thousands of dollars on a degree is worth the investment.

There are many arguments on why high school graduates should go to college, so lets look at a few.

1)  A degree will help you get a better job making more money.

2) College itself is a good experience for a young adult.   Social skills are bettered, networking takes place and you are exposed to many cultural and social differences.  And there are also lifelong friendships made.

3) Education is very valuable, what you learn in college can be applied in everyday life, even if you don’t enter your particular field of study.

I am not one to argue against education being valuable.  In fact, I think that is a given.  But what practical applications will that education have if we decide not to use the degree?  If someone goes to school for criminal justice and ends up working as a realtor.  Or someone with a degree in architecture ends up being a preacher.   There are many uses for information we learn from lectures but if they don’t serve a useful purpose in building a career, what significance have they?

College is a great place to network, come out of the proverbial shell and grow up as a person.  You will learn responsibility, some social skills, heartache perhaps and certainly temptation.  And the exposure to people from all over the globe is certainly a plus.  But on its own this is not a good enough reason for taking on a potentially huge amount of debt.  I mean, moving to any major city could have the same effect and wouldn’t have the $60,000+ price tag.

A degree will help you get a better job.  Will it?  Potentially it might, well probably a good chance.  But what if the job market is bad and there are WAY more people competing for the same job you just spent thousands of dollars learning how to do?   What if the economy has changed and those jobs are not paying as well as they were when you enrolled at university?  What if technology has wiped out your position or tax burdens have caused businesses to wait on expanding?  What if there is simply no longer a need for your service?  There are many things out of your control that can influence your job and how much you will make at it.  A huge school loan might be a risky undertaking.

I am not saying that someone shouldn’t go to college or get their Masters.  I am pointing out that things have changed in the last 20 yrs kids have to know what they are getting into before they enter the work force.

Here is what I am saying in a nutshell:  If you have a good idea about what you want to do when you graduate high school then maybe get a job in that field and try it out for a while.  Hang around people who are doing it and see if that is what you really want to do for a huge portion of your life.  Ask questions, read books and try get a feel for what it is like doing that job.  Maybe you will not like it like you thought you would.

You don’t have to go to college just because.  Because you are “supposed to do it” is not a valid reason for such a huge commitment.  Take a couple of years off after school and make some money.  Do some networking and learn some people skills and some responsibility, then when you decide it is time, and you are ready to go to college, you are more mature and have some money saved.   I believe you can learn a lot just from being involved in the world.  Taking responsibility, embracing accountability and learning independence are great tools for career-driven adults.

I think the best skills to learn are communication and grammar.  If you know how to talk and are comfortable and confident in your own skin you can go far with those skills alone.  Someone who knows how to speak effectively and has confidence and charisma can be taught to do many things and may not need a degree to have a successful career.

In my opinion college is a huge waste of time and money for too many people.  If you decide to go, do the homework on the job market and see what trends there are, you want to make sure that job is around when you get out.  Take a year or 2 off after high school and get a job with a place that has your position so you can learn a bit about it.  For example, you want to be a doctor so you get a job at a hospital etc.  Is is amazing what you can learn just by observing and asking questions.

College is a huge commitment, make sure you KNOW what you are doing before diving in.

I found this site that has some useful stats and also a quiz.

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3 Comments on “Is College Worth It?”

  1. PCC Advantage Says:

    “If you have a good idea about what you want to do when you graduate high school then maybe get a job in that field and try it out for a while.” – Fantastic advice! I think that if more potential college students actually tried something in the field that they seem to be interested in before actually committing to the programme, there would be FAR fewer drop-outs and more direction.

    Great article, Mitchell!


  2. Maggie Says:

    I learned more about life from being out in the real world than I did in college. For me, the vast majority of what I learned in college was almost completely irrelevant to what I’d need to succeed in the real world. I can’t complain about student loan debt because I have none.

    I agree with you that college should not be considered mandatory for success. There are many examples of entrepreneurs who never went to college (or dropped out) and made it big. College is great, but it’s not the best learning environment for everyone.


  3. Mitchell Says:

    I just don’t like all the pressure on the young kids to go to college. I went because everyone else was and it was what you are “supposed to do.” I was not ready though so it ended up being an expensive vacation for my parents.

    A kid does not have to be ashamed to take a couple of years off to do some maturing and planning. Or even skip college altogether.

    Thanks for commenting ladies.


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