With the current economy, are we entering a new era of education? Meaning, is the model of getting an undergraduate degree (or even a graduate degree), and then entering the job force going the way of the dinosaur?
In other words, is it a better investment for younger people to skip college and go the route of entrepreneurship?
That’s the argument put forth in an article I recently read on U.S. News. Essentially, proponents of this view tend to suggest that a college degree isn’t always worth the investment. Basically, the reality that these days many people take out big loans for their education, yet struggle to find suitable jobs in their field, is what makes college seem like a sketchy investment. Instead of pursuing such a traditional path, the idea is that people in business, technology, and the arts should go the route of self-employment. That’s the argument in a nutshell.
This is a position that’s been picking up steam of late. Even here on Squirrelers, there was a guest post in June 2011 that covered the topic of whether or not college is right for everyone. I thought the guest poster made some very good observations on how the idea that college is practically a “right” for middle class Americans might need to be revisited. This in light of the employment market and high level of student loan debt.
Personally, I still lean toward the more traditional route. That is, upon graduating high school, a kid goes to college and gets an undergrad degree. Personally, I obtained an MBA, which I can tell you was definitely worth the investment, as I was one of those people underemployed before business school. I realize that things are continuing to evolve in the market and economy, but it seems to me that it’s good to have a solid education.
I realize that it’s easier than ever for people to make money through entrepreneurship, particularly online. Enterprising new grads might be able to make more money right away on their own than they could through the traditional job route. However, being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. Sure, we can all bounce back from failures, but it helps to have a foundation on which we could build off.
Getting a college degree today, for younger people, is like a high school degree in a prior generation. It’s an entry ticket, a requirement for those in their early 20’s who want to get access to jobs. And about jobs – they aren’t obsolete. Not by a long shot. In my view, it’s imperative for a young person out of high school to go to college and at the minimum, get an undergraduate degree.
Don’t tell me about how Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or other business superstars dropped out of college and succeeded big time. Most of us aren’t going to be multi-billionaire tycoons, and those guys are anomalies. Kids graduating high school need to think of higher education. I think that the idea of skipping college is founded on shaky ground, and not a fit with overall trends over the last 40 years.
Now, in terms of where a kid goes to college, that’s a big deal now. Realistically, there are probably a number of schools that are very expensive yet offer little appreciable advantage over schools that are much cheaper. Just because a university is private, doesn’t mean it’s going to be better than a public school. I think that the idea of people just going to the highest rated school they get into is very outdated. Rather, kids should pursue a college education – but choose a school by giving plenty of thought to the financial side of the return on investment. I say this knowing that not everything about personal growth can be numerically quantified. However, a mistake in choice of colleges and potential loans could stay with a kid for many years. Choose wisely!
Because loans create such a large financial hole for students to climb out of once they have completed their schooling, many are now choosing to work while attending university. Of course, juggling classes with work can be extremely difficult, but online certification classes eliminate much of this difficulty by allowing students to study on their own time. It is possible to obtain the certification needed for high-demand careers like psychology through these online universities, which allows students to complete their degrees on their own time and start their new careers with minimal debt.
My Questions for You:
What do you think? Are you with me, thinking that college is vital for new high school graduates, or do you subscribe to the movement that questions the need for college for business and other majors?
Do you think that people spend enough time looking at the financial return side of the equation when choosing a college?