There has been a lot of debate on whether a college education offers any real value in this day and age. The number of college graduates looking for jobs is on the increase with the ever changing dynamics of the job market. Still, there are also some highly successful people who never set foot in college.
Henry Ford attended the local school in Greenfield Township, Michigan where he grew up for 8 years and that was the end of his formal education. There is no doubt that he had a tremendous impact on the motor industry in the 20th century.
In this article we will explore the facts on college education, the pros and cons and whether you should be rushing to get that degree and if at all it’s really worth it.
Facts on college education
While the Henry Ford story may sound encouraging especially if you don’t have a college education, just understand that cases of rich low educated people are rare. The more educated will always have far better chances of becoming successful in life than those with minimal education.
According to the Atlantic.com the earnings premium for college graduates has rocketed to 73 percent—that is, those with a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, 73 percent more than those who have only a high-school diploma, up from about 50 percent in the late 1970’s.
The problem of unemployment among college graduates may not necessarily be directly related to colleges but the education system as a whole, starting from kindergarten.
I still remember spending hours in junior school studying subjects that I had absolutely no interest in. Not much has changed since.
There is still a massive disconnect between curricula that is taught in college verses the job market. Some students are taking subjects that are fast becoming obsolete.
Back in 2008, as a student of Graphic Design, I learned how to build websites using Flash Macromedia. A year later, WordPress was released and that relegated Flash and other website building platforms to the dark ages. Was it worth the money I paid for it?
Yes and no. Yes because it stirred my curiosity on how to build websites and no because I had to learn a new skill all over again.
Despite all that, colleges are still admitting people in the thousands every year so they are not going anywhere.
Pros and cons of a college education
Personal development: I would say the greatest asset that one acquires by going to college is personal development. People who go to college are better prepared to face life’s challenges and look for solutions to problems. College helps you to think critically. Part of college education is also about self discipline. I am sure you know that you can appreciate the importance of handing in your assignments on time. It is the same with life’s assignments.
Economic growth: It is estimated that college graduates earn 66% higher wages than high school graduates. These is because college graduates take up more specialized jobs. They in turn contribute to the overall growth of the economy of any region.
Path towards affluence: Over 80% of the world’s wealthiest people have a college education. The reasons are obvious. Knowledge is power and those who have it pretty much rule the world. As I mentioned earlier that is not to say that the less educated cannot rise to positions of privilege. It just means it’s a lot harder if you dropped out at 5th grade.
Health benefits: College life is normally vigorous and highly competitive. A lot of college graduates are likely to take sport. This sometimes continuous even after they graduate. Old habits die hard.
College graduates are also likely to take up life insurance and take better care of themselves. What’s all the money in the world worth if you have to spend it all on medical bills?
Relationships: Lifetime relationships are sometimes developed in college. As a college student you will meet people who are like minded, inspiring and good company to hang out with. Some of your college pals end up becoming becoming the people who will give you pointers to future opportunities. You know, knowing someone who knows somebody.
You can also find love in college. There are many people who end up marrying their college sweethearts. That is a sweet ending!
College is expensive. The cost of getting that college degree does not come cheap. Depending on what you are studying and the sort of institute you will be attending you will probably end up paying a couple of tens of thousands of dollars. You are not only paying college fees but your professor’s salary and the entire board of directors plus the management of the campus among many other things.
Unfortunately, we have a lot of young bright people out there who desire to go to college but simply can’t afford it. It’s a harsh reality but that is just the way it is.
Student loans: Many countries have systems that allow students to easily access student loans. By the by time people step out of campus into the real world there are already in debt even before they get their first job.
The second harsh reality is that some students will simply not be in a position to repay what they owe. Let’s face it. Jobs are getting really scarce. It could be years before you land your first job.
Work Experience: Most people stepping out of college have no clue about how the real world works. That first interview is always a nightmare. Unless you are studying a course that allows you to study as you earn, most people will be seeing red because unless you have something to show to prove that you know what you are saying, you will probably not be getting that job.
What you will be getting is people asking for some sort of work experience. Here is a situation where you are getting the exam before the lesson. You may have to work for free just to get some experience.
Useless Qualifications: The world is changing at such a fast rate and we now have a situation where some of the things you study will become obsolete in a few years from now.
If you are studying on how to become a librarian, you might have to spend your days dusting books because a lot of people just Google for information these days.
We now have have self checkout machines in most major retails stores. That’s another career that is fast going down the drain for those working in the industry. Automation is becoming the norm in a lot of industries so some traditional jobs will simply be replaced by machines.
Is there value in a college education. Absolutely yes.
Don’t let an opportunity to go to college pass you just because you think you can go a long way by your own. There are things you will pick along during your time in college that will be beneficial throughout your life. I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg would be who he is today had it not be for his short time at Harvard.
Of greater importance is to study what you are passionate about. A lot people make the mistake of studying for the sake of it. That is how they end up in careers that they have little or no interest in. Passion is a bigger motivation than just hard work.
Are there alternatives to college
With the growth of the internet, there are endless opportunities to study. Many colleges are now offering online qualifications. The courses are of course cheaper since you don’t have pay all the overheads of running a campus.
If you are passionate about expanding your knowledge or working within an industry that you love, I would highly recommend you check out this community based online entrepreneur course and see whether its a good fit for you. It’s FREE to get started.
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