Should I Go To College?

Should I Go To College?

Lauren PesinMonday,20 April 2015

Most of us at one or more points in our life ask, “Should I Go to College?” Be it as a teenager, when we are trying to figure out what we want to do as an adult or when we are grown and want to do something more. The job you want may require a degree or perhaps you are enticed by the potential to make more money.

Recently, I was in a heated debate about whether or not college is still what we should be preparing our children for. Does a degree provide a marked advantage in the career world?

If you feel you have what it takes and want to take your chances at fame, be it as an actor, musician, or athlete, than college may not be the answer for you. If you dream of being a welder or performing a task that requires technical or physical skills learned through apprenticeships or vocational training, then college may not be for you. If you want to be an exotic dancer, Wal-Mart greeter or any job that does not require higher education, than the answer may be a clear “no.”

The argument was made to me that in America there are different ways to obtain credentials and training, reducing the automatic need for college. There are technical jobs that value professional certifications over degrees and a myriad of contract jobs that value military training and experience over college. That may be true.

However, for the sake of this discussion, I am talking about a typical American teen who isn’t quite sure exactly what they want to do, but they know they want to prepare for some type of profession. I am talking about parents who want to provide their kids with the greatest chance of opportunities for success. College can be very expensive, but is it worth it? Is college the best way to prepare for career and financial success?

My immediate response is “Hells Yes!” This stems from my upbringing, where I was taught if you want a “good job” and to make lots of money, you not only went to college, you went to a good one. Yet, I know several people who are making well into six figures without a degree. I know people with jobs they love and who never thought of getting a bachelor’s. Therefore, even though everything in me wanted to answer confidently “Yes, everyone should go to college,” I found myself wondering if college is still the answer.

After conducting research and asking friends, family, and random strangers, my answer is still a resounding “Yes, you should go to college.”

I can gladly report that if you don’t fall into the exception categories and believe in statistics, evidence still indicates your chances are significantly better (as in you will make an average of 98% more an hour) if you have a four year degree. According to the recent analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute, the disparity in pay between the college educated and the rest of the population reached an all time high in 2013. The difference in pay wasn’t even in the same ballpark. From a money standpoint, the answer is clear that you should go to college. In addition, from an opportunity standpoint, colleges have internships, prestigious alumni, and relationships that students benefit from only through their school association. Therefore from an opportunity standpoint, the answer yes.

Consequently, if you find yourself asking or providing advice to the young, you can answer with certainty, “Yes, you should go to college.”

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Hat Tips:

The New York TimesImage Credit: Flickr

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