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Is College Necessary For Success?

With the debt, stress, and time spent towards a degree, some people ask "Is college necessary for success?"

By Ossiana TepfenhartPublished 7 years ago 5 min read

It seems like, for many of us, we were told from the day that we were born that we had to "go to college to succeed." In high school, it's no longer good enough to consider trade school or even enroll in community college; a four-year college degree is the only one counselors tell us is "worth it."

Competition for scholarships and enrollment rates are at a near all-time high, and it's easy to see why. On average, a typical college student will get higher wages and will see lower employment rates than a high school graduate.

On face value, college is a wise investment that can help bolster your chances of staying in the middle class. To a point, people are seeing it as a rite of passage in certain circles, and as a way to help you attain a higher status among your peers.

Despite all the more visible benefits that college can offer, there are many people out there who adamantly as "is college necessary for success?" Some college dropouts are also coming forth to say that college isn't only unnecessary, but even a potential liability.

As outlandish as it may sound to us who have heard conventional wisdom's staunch stance on college, there may be reason to hear these people out. This is why college may not be necessary to succeed in all fields - according to them.

College: Not Necessary In All Positions

One of the most common reasons that people say college isn't necessary to succeed in life is because most jobs out there don't really need a college education in order for people to understand what they're doing. Around

In fact, among professions that hire base on portfolio, having a college degree without a good portfolio is akin to being a doctor who's never practiced on a patient. In theory, both parties know how to do their job - however, there's no actual proof of that.

Photographers don't need to be well-read in the history of famous photographers to take a good picture. Dancers do not need Dance Appreciation 101 to kill it in auditions. Salespeople don't need a degree to be able to talk to people convincingly and get them to buy goods.

Simply put, the majority of jobs don't require college; they prefer experience over that. Right now, around 64 percent of all jobs out there do not require a college degree.

The Flooded College Degree Market

There was a point in time where people were correct in saying that a degree was an instant "in" to any job they wanted. This was back in the days when degrees were rare, and where jobs that did better with degrees tended to be disproportionately plentiful. Unfortunately, that ship has long sailed.

Right now, 40 percent of all people in the US have a college degree - Associate's Degree included. Around 40 percent of all college graduates are also considered to be underemployed because they're working jobs that don't require their educational attainment - or don't pay enough to cover the bills. So if this is the case, is college necessary for success?

Simply put, the college market is flooded. Only 27 percent of college grads actually work in jobs related to their major. This is why you see so many English majors as managers, and why you see Dance majors working as Personal Assistants.

If you think that tech or medical students are immune to this problem, you're wrong. There are about 1,000 medical school grads who can't get hired because they can't get matched with a residency that would allow them to complete their certification every year.

College: Supply And Demand Economics

College is a perfect example of The Law of Supply and Demand.

Considering that there are now more grads then there are jobs for grads, it's safe to say that the market is flooded with grads. The end result of a flooded market is always the same: the value of whatever floods the market inevitably shrinks. This explains why graduates are now getting lower wages than their predecessors. Simply put, it's the Law of Supply and Demand at work.

Meanwhile, students are still being told that they "need a degree" for job success - and students believe that, and the demand for college increases. The Law of Supply and Demand says that an increase in demand with a steady (or steady-ish) supply will raise in price. This, plain and simple, is why tuition has skyrocketed over the past couple of years.

As long as people continue to demand college degrees and go into flooded markets, this trend will continue. Sadly, low wages and high levels of college debt don't exactly sound like a path to surefire success.

College Debt: A Crushing Obstacle To Success

College debt, as many who have dealt with Navient know, is not like normal debt. With normal debt, you can discharge your debt via bankruptcy if the bills can't get paid via normal means. Bankruptcy is part of the way America ensures people get second chances.

As of right now, college debt is the only form of debt that bankruptcy cannot discharge. The average college graduate will get out of school with around $40,000 in debt. If you go into medical school or grad school, that number can easily shoot up to as high as $100,000 or more.

After a certain point, you simply can't pay those amounts.

A USA Today article recently noted that the burden of college debt that grads are now taking on is proving to be a significant barrier to financial stability. Many grads are putting off leaving home, starting their own business, or even having kids because the debt is making it impossible to live their own life.

If you really think about it, being up to your eyeballs in debt really isn't how you want to go through life. Not only does this beg the question "is college necessary for success?" it almost leads us to believe college is a hinderance to professional success in some cases. In fact, the debt alone is one of the reasons why college grads say that they regret getting a degree.

Alternatives To College Worth A Look

The fact is that people are quickly becoming wise to the fact that a degree isn't the only path to success out there. Experience, alternative schooling, and certifications are all worth a look if you're not completely sure of college being the right choice for you.

Some of the most popular routes outside of college include the following:

  • Experience Training. The best way to learn is always on the job. This works well with sales, artwork, talent, and (in many cases), manual labor.
  • Apprenticeship. In many trades, including carpentry and tattoo artistry, an apprenticeship is a must if you want to get a good job. Getting an apprenticeship isn't easy, but it can lead to a six-figure salary in the future.
  • Entrepreneurialism. You never need a degree to start a business. Bill Gates didn't have one, neither did Carlos "Slim." If you have the talent and work ethic, it's doable.
  • Trade School. Yes, this is an alternative - and a good one at that. The need for certified tradespeople is booming and there often aren't enough people to actually fill spots.

The fact is that there are a lot of different routes to success and financial independence. It's up to you to decide if college is necessary or not for your life plan. Each individual should answer the question "is college necessary for success?" in the way that suits their individual needs.

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About the Creator

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of New Jersey. This is her work account. She loves gifts and tips, so if you like something, tip her!

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