The more I look at today’s workforce, the more I’m left scratching my head as to what the purpose of college is for the majority of people out there. Do you really need a college degree today?
Now, let me first start by saying that I am a college graduate, I graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Kinesiology and a minor in Business. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in college but twenty years ago is a lot different than what we are seeing today.
For instance, look at the young woman in the banner image of this article. Is she working towards getting her college degree, or is she learning new skills and improving current skills so that she can be a leader in the workforce or own her own business? You see, both scenarios look the same, it’s just where the money is exchanged. How are you investing money into yourself?
Let me paint a few pictures for you, and you can decide for yourself if getting a college degree is for you or if you’d rather invest into yourself by other means.
A College Degree is Putting Americans into Severe Debt
It seems like, with each passing year, the costs associated with going to college continue to skyrocket. EducationData.org has put out some new statistics that I believe are important for everyone to read, understand, and analyze. Here’s what they have published:
- The average cost of college in the United States is $35,331 per student per year, including books, supplies, and daily living expenses.
- The average cost of college has more than doubled in the 21st century, with an annual growth rate of 6.8%.
- The average in-state student attending a public 4-year institution spends $25,487 for one academic year.
- The average cost of in-state tuition alone is $9,349; out-of-state tuition averages $27,023.
- Considering student loan interest and loss of income, the ultimate cost of a bachelor’s degree can exceed $400,000.
Now, these are just the highlights and a brief rundown of what the published data shows. I urge you to go to their website and read ALL the findings as they’ll probably blow you away. Overall, the data needs to be understood by everyone who is thinking a college degree is the way to go if they want to make a good living for themselves.
But let’s talk about some of the data they found.
The Cost to Go to College Continues to Rise
According to Investopedia.com has found that the average American will only see an annual raise of around 4.2%.
So, let’s just compare annual growth for a minute. If you go to college, you’re going to see an annual increase in tuition of 6.8% and salaries only going up 4.2%. Do you see a problem there? The rate at which the cost of going to college compared to increases in salary doesn’t make much sense. This is just one reason why it may not make sense for some people to get a college degree, depending on the profession you want to go into.
Your Debt Continues to Grow
People think that they’re going to graduate college and be rolling in money thanks to their college degree. Well, ask many recent graduates how that’s working out for them, and you’ll quickly find out the only thing they are rolling in is debt.
After graduating college, you may quickly find yourself in severe debt. And not a small amount of debt like you didn’t pay off your credit card. We are talking six figures in debt.
What else happens when you graduate from college? Maybe you buy a house? Perhaps you purchase a car to get to and from work? Guess what those things bring you? Added debt from a mortgage and car loan. You may not have the money to pay for a new or even used car in cash without getting a loan. And the ability for you to purchase a home in full is probably as likely as you winning the lottery and being struck by lightning the same day.
A College Degree is LESS Meaningful Today
There’s nothing to be ashamed about when you have earned your college degree. But the way businesses are being run today, many are teaching their employees how to do their job. On-the-job training is bigger than ever, and while your college degree and that piece of paper may mean something to you, it means less and less with each passing year for today’s business owners. Why? It’s simple.
Technology is changing the business landscape every single day. What you learned your freshman year of college could completely change by the time you’re a senior. So, will you get your money back since that information is not outdated? Nope. You’re stuck with the bill.
Systems, processes, and procedures are constantly evolving and being simplified. If someone is going to teach you how to do your job the way they need it done, how much is your college degree really worth? Only you can answer that.
Do You Want to Be a Pharmacist or Plumber?
Let’s look at an example of careers for just a second. Would you rather be a pharmacist or a plumber for a living? Not only does it sound cooler to be a pharmacist, but you’d think it would bring in more money, right? So, you spend all that money on a college degree. You spend upwards of eight years in school to get your doctorate and graduate as a pharmacist.
Well, what if you were told that some pharmacists only make $65,000 a year? It’s true. That’s only $9,000 over the average American’s salary. Yet, the pharmacist has six figures worth of debt and spent around eight years in college rather than working full-time in the workforce.
And that plumber? Clearly, they are in a worse situation, right? Nope. That plumber started their own business as an entrepreneur and can easily make over $200,000 a year while also making their own schedule. Did I mention that the plumber merely had to gain the skills necessary for the job and didn’t need a college degree? So, which to you sounds like a better deal? Again, only you can answer that question.
Does a College Degree Still Hold as Much Weight?
I’m not here to tell you to skip college. Nor am I here telling you that you need to put yourself in debt to the point where you’ll be near retirement age before you pay off your student loans and actually have some money saved up. All I’m saying is that, in my opinion, the education system is broken.
We have college costs rising faster than salary increases, and the amount of debt over the heads of students once they leave college is astronomical. Going to college and getting a college degree may not be the best idea unless you’re going to be a doctor, surgeon, lawyer, chemist, or in a professional position that absolutely requires an education.
Here’s one thing I would recommend regardless of whether you go to get a college degree or not… become an autodidact. Learn as much as you can, and never stop. The better your skills, the better of an asset you will be to your employer or in your own business endeavors. What does that mean? The potential to grow either with a company or with your own company.
Becoming the best at something never backfired on anyone. In fact, it may be the way for you to earn a good living, stay out of debt, and live the life you’ve always dreamed of.
Now ask yourself the question, “Is a college degree going to get me to where I want to be in life?” That’s something only you can answer for yourself.