The value of a college degree has been called into question a lot recently.
Tuition rates keep going up every year, resulting in students taking on more debt than ever before. Despite the increased cost of education, wages have become stagnant, and a bachelor’s degree is so common it no longer sets you apart in the job market.
In other words, a college degree has a higher cost while bringing a lower return.
So that begs the question — is college still worth it?
The Value of College Depends on Your Field of Study
Sociology, women’s studies, communication, and the other liberal arts programs are all bullshit degrees. Study them all you want if that’s your thing, but don’t expect anything better than a barista job when you graduate.
Unless you graduate with a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) degree, your degree likely has very little value in the workforce. That’s not to say you won’t get a job or you won’t be successful — you just won’t have immediate access to the best jobs straight out of college.
It really comes down to what career you are pursuing.
Obviously, if you want to be an attorney or a doctor, you’re going to need the proper degrees to practice legally. However, there are many careers where it isn’t so clear.
Business is a great example. A significant portion of college students want to go into business but aren’t clear on what they actually want to do in business. As a result, they go with a generic degree such as business administration or marketing.
The problem with those degrees is that they’re easy to obtain, which means the job market is flooded with them and your future hiring managers don’t respect them as much. Plus, they’re too generic and don’t provide you with a specific skill set.
As opposed to marketing, advertising is more specific and actually lands better, higher-paying jobs right out of college. However, both advertising and marketing are easy to learn on your own outside of college through freelancing.
Then if you wanted a better alternative to a generic business administration degree, economics or finance would be great choices. Again, both of these degrees tend to pay higher and land better jobs.
If you want to be self-employed or own a business, there’s no college degree that can prepare you for what it takes. That’s not to say that college is a bad idea if you want to be an entrepreneur — you just probably won’t benefit directly from your actual degree.
Figure out what you want to accomplish FIRST, then figure out how to accomplish it. If college provides the most direct path to success, it’s probably worth it for you.
If college doesn’t get you closer to where you want to be, you have to seriously consider if it’s worth the time and money investment.
College Isn’t All About the Money
If financial ROI is all you’re seeking, college is a terrible investment. (Unless you’re going to go STEM.)
The real value of college is what you get outside of class. It’s the connections you make, the new experiences, and the fun you have.
While the average college student is very average indeed, the majority of successful and powerful people start their careers in college — meaning this is your opportunity to build relationships with those people now.
Plus, you’ll never be surrounded by so many attractive people your age at any other point in life. I’m not saying that partying and meeting girls is the most important thing about college, but it certainly provides a lot of fun.
Another thing that college teaches you, which I feel is highly underrated, is how to learn.
If I Could Do it All Over Again, I’d Still Go to College
I graduated from college 5 years ago and have yet to use my degree in any way. I’ve been self-employed since the end of college and my employer just isn’t impressed by the expensive piece of paper I worked so hard for.
However, given the opportunity to go back in time… I would still go to college. In fact, I’d focus on going to a better college which might even cost me more money.
To do the one thing I wish I did more of when I was in college — networking.
Most of my friends are doctors and finance guys. They’re successful and have their lives on track, but they’re in completely separate lanes from me, reducing our opportunities for collaboration.
There are plenty of ways to network after college, and I’ve made some great connections since graduating, but it’s never as easy as it is in college.
What if I want the benefits of going to college, but I don’t need a college degree for my career?
There is one alternative I would also consider if I could go back in time. In this scenario, I would move to the college town of my choice to be around the environment, but I would focus on building my business instead of going to school.
But I can’t do it all over again and I’m okay with that.
You, on the other hand, might be 18 or 19 and unsure of what to do next.
I’m not going to tell you what to do because it’s a decision you have to make.
I simply suggest taking serious consideration to the money and time you invest in your degree.
You’re going to hear a lot of contradictory information — most people will say you “just need to get a degree” and others will say “college is a waste of time and money.”
While college can be a waste of money, it can also provide you with a great career, a steady six-figure income, and a fun experience. But only a select few degrees can provide this outcome, while most will end up as an expensive paragraph on your resume.
It all depends on the degree you pursue and how you maximize your time in college.
Go to college with a purpose or don’t go at all.
What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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