Crazy amounts of debt from going to college is not new news. Many people are beginning to question whether or not going to college is even necessary. Why attend college? Is the degree required for the career you plan to go into? Can you work your way up in the career you are interested in? Society has us believing that you can only be successful if you have gone to college, but this is actually a farce.
That Degree and What It Means
Having that one piece of paper isn’t just a degree. It is a ticket to your career, your future. It is your ticket to enter the ‘corporate game.’ It is not entirely necessary but gaining entrance into the game you want to play in is a lot harder to get into without the right ticket. Having a degree does not mean you are ready to work without any training when you start a new job. What employers view it as, you have a basic knowledge of the concept of the job you are being hired to do. They do not expect you to know everything in fact they expect the exact opposite. Employers expect to train you and for you to have questions. Yet employers still believe, at least for the majority of them, that having a degree is how you prove you are able to do the job, that they are fully prepared to train you to do.
Work Experience Over Education
Experience used to be valued higher than education a few decades back, not now. Education is valued higher than experience. However, most employers also want to see some work experience along with the education for the job you are applying for. It is a vicious cycle. You can’t gain on the job experience without the degree, but you can’t get the job with only a degree either. Employers want to see job experience to show you know how to do the job?! This is also how employers can rationalize paying entry level wages to someone who just spent tens of thousands of dollars just get the job that pays $12/hr. History tells us that well kid you have to start somewhere!?
Actual knowledge can be gained through personal studies, but since no employer trusts that someone will learn everything, they need to know through personal studies they won’t accept it as an education requirement towards getting a job. This leaves people no choice but to go to school and incur skyrocketing tuition costs in order to get the degree that states that they were able to pass tests and should be able to do the intended job.
Increasing Cost of Education
The cost of a college degree has dramatically increased year after year. This increased cost has not been met with increased wages to match. Making having an education unaffordable. According to an article by the Business Insider the cost of tuition for one year at a four year institution went from roughly $1200 in the 1970’s to $3000 in the 1980’s, to $6000 in the 1990’s, to $11000 in 2007 and has continued up from there. This increase in educational costs have placed the burden of a growing economy on students. This burden has created a generation who have decided to place their lives on hold to try and afford an education or struggle financially once they get out of school to pay staggering student loan payments. They are foregoing purchasing homes and cars because their loan payments are crippling their financial situation. However, society still says that these people are better off financially after attending college because their earning potential year over year is higher, but they fail to mention that their purchasing power is worse than before. So, while you might earn $60,000 you might have a $600 a month student loan payment. Again, a vicious cycle, you can’t have these high paying jobs without the expensive degree to pay off after you graduate, or you can forego the expensive degree and go straight to work.
So, is College Necessary or Not?
Society has put a stigma on education by college degree and lack of one as well. You aren’t going to be successful without a college education. You can’t be successful having a trade job for a career. This stigma has got to go! Going into the workforce instead of college can allow you to change careers and learn about what you want to do rather than make a career decision at 18 years old and be expected to stick with it for the next 50 years.
What isn’t widely advertised is that trade school jobs or apprenticeships are just as lucrative as jobs you can get with a degree. You will spend a year or two in training and then after that you have a skill you can take with you that you do not have to repay for the next decade or two.
You can make $30/ hr. as an electrician. After you have gained your experience and training from someone you can even open your own business and increase your pay and be successful! All without a college degree.
The societal requirement to have a degree to be successful is absolutely untrue, but it is currently the widely accepted norm. This will be tough to change. Many careers do require a basic set of knowledge and skills, but skills do not have to be learned in a classroom on a college campus. They can be learned on the job without the debt of going to school. They can be learned through internships, or self-study. Until employers’ value a person’s knowledge based on self-education this will continue to be the accepted pathway to many careers. You can absolutely be successful in many careers without a college degree and college debt. Employers need to start looking beyond the piece of paper and look at the person and their potential and then the change can begin.