The Importance of a College Degree

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Education is one of the sectors that spend a huge amount of taxpayers’ money in most countries across the world. Governments throughout the world spend huge amounts of resources as they try to make education better and increase the level of literacy. Families have to make the decision to go to college or attend a university remains a serious and important decision. Families expect their children to achieve a college or university degree as it is considered a major achievement that affects an individual’s entire life. It costs families and the government a huge amount of money. For instance, the average amount of student debt in the country is $40,000, and the overall debt is about $1.5 trillion (Jones & Yang, 2016). However, receiving this degree requires a lot of time and money, and various opponents believe that it is not worth investing in a college education because it is not a necessary requirement in life. Nevertheless, a large number of pros against cons make college education a worthwhile investment in time and money for each child.

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To start with, it is important to consider the financial benefits of any investment. This consideration must also apply in education as it is an investment that costs learners, families, authorities, and society in general. Numerous financial and career benefits are associated with earning a college or university degree. Current estimates indicate that a person with a college degree earns about 60% per year more than people with only a high school diploma or a GED (Nuckols et al., 2020). In 2019, the median earnings for employees with a college or university degree was about $1,173 per week compared to about $712 for those with a high school diploma. Even an associate degree can help boost the pay of a worker (Taylor et al., 2020). Therefore, the investment in education has direct financial benefits that exceed the expenses by a large margin.

In the US and many countries across the world, education is traditionally considered the key to obtaining an entry-level job. About 65% of jobs in the US require some level of tertiary education to qualify as an applicant (Nuckols et al., 2020). In addition, about 35% of these positions require a minimum of a university or college degree (Nuckols et al., 2020). People who earn jobs with a high school diploma or a GED will eventually be required to advance their education with a bachelor’s degree, especially if they are to achieve promotions. In essence, the traditions in American society place a limitation on upward movement in career unless a college education is achieved.

Colleges and universities are designed to be the centers where people receive the best possible knowledge and skills required for careers and life. Indeed, the knowledge obtained in colleges and universities aligns with the skills that one needs to make major decisions in life. For example, modern society is highly reliant on technology (Nuckols et al., 2020). High schools do not teach technology and related skills, which are only found in colleges and universities. Those who attend universities and colleges are equipped with these skills, which help them in making decisions in careers and business.

Attending colleges and universities gives learners a chance to make a life for themselves. In particular, the knowledge and skills obtained in the institutions of higher learning give people the capacity to work, run businesses or other organizations, or establish startups and other sources of money. This is an advantage that reduces dependency on parents and families, which means that the graduates are less likely to be living with their parents through their 20s (Nuckols et al., 2020). College education has more benefits for Millennials than for previous generations in the country.

Going to college does not just provide learners with the knowledge and skills necessary in life. Rather, it also gives people a chance to make new and important connections that those who did not attend college cannot achieve. Indeed, networking has become a tremendous advantage for learners in colleges. Research shows that up to 80% of the job positions that young people obtain were never advertised publicly (Nuckols et al., 2020). Instead, one needs to know the right people to secure employment. Most of these people are leaders in corporations, businesses, public institutions, and other institutions.

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Most organizations offer internship and attachment programs with higher learning institutions. Therefore, students are set to work in institutions while still in school, which gives them a chance to make connections with the right people. Upon graduation, they can use these connections to secure jobs, especially because the right people in institutions understand them and their abilities (Nuckols et al., 2020). Furthermore, many companies and organizations in the country recruit new employees directly from colleges and universities, which means that attending an institution of higher learning increase a person’s chance of achieving employment. It is also worth noting that students make connections between themselves when in college. These connections can be beneficial because students can establish startups and other ventures.

Unlike high schools, colleges and universities offer free career counseling services to their students. The idea is to give learners an opportunity to get in touch with employers and alumni who can help them find jobs that require their skills (Nuckols et al., 2020). In addition, most American institutions of higher learning offer an annual job fair that allows recruiters to visit campuses in search of qualified students to become workers. Therefore, the advantage gives learners a chance to start forming relationships with corporate representatives who provide them with jobs upon graduation.

In American institutions of higher learning, extracurricular activities make part of the learning process. There are plenty of these services and student-led opportunities for participating that are not common in high schools. In addition, colleges and universities provide training for students in different fields such as athletics, ball games, board games, and others (Nuckols et al., 2020). With these activities, students have an opportunity to pursue careers in these fields, form meaningful relationships, and even move to foreign nations for further studies and careers. In the same manner, students can take part in publishing, reporting, and editing for their school magazines, which improves their skills and capacities needed in their future careers.

Institutions of higher learning strive to provide students with an environment that will help them experience different cultures. College students are normally in their late adolescent and early adulthood ages, which are stages of life when people start experiencing the importance of relationships with others (Nuckols et al., 2020). In most colleges, the students and workers come from different cultures that represent the American population in general. In addition, there is a high chance of meeting and relating with people from different parts of the world. This form of diversity improves the student’s ability to live and work with people from different cultures, which also improves their ability to fit in almost any society across the world.

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Nevertheless, there are various disadvantages associated with earning a college degree. First, for one to achieve the benefits listed above, it is a must that the person earns the degree. Simply attending an institution of higher learning does not guarantee a person the benefits of a degree. Statistics indicate that about 56% of students who attend colleges and universities will earn certificates (Archibald & Feldman, 2017). The rest do not achieve the degree and will face the same fate as those that did not attend college at all.

Not everyone can afford to pay college or university fees, and most students have to enter an apprenticeship program or find a job to support their college education. Unlike many developed nations, America does not give students an opportunity to study in colleges and universities for free. Each student and their family must fund their education unless they achieve a scholarship from an institution. Many students in the country rely on loans to finance their expenses, but they are burdened because they must pay them back after graduating. Statistics indicate that in 2018, the total amount of student loan debt was about $1.5 trillion, which was a significant increase from $260 billion recorded in 2008 (Bahr, 2019). In addition, the debt keeps growing every year, which means that the burden of education will remain high. Once the student graduates with a college or university degree, they must spend their salaries in the initial years of working to repay the loans.

Attending college does not necessarily improve a person’s intelligence. Indeed, about 45% of students who attended an institution of higher learning between 2005 and 2009 reported that they did not make any significant improvements in their critical thinking skills (Bahr, 2019). During the first two years of college, students tend to have no improvement in their reasoning and writing abilities. About 36% of students do not show evidence of significant gains in these important skill areas (Bahr, 2019). This is worrying because the amount of money and time spent on college education is quite high but with no benefits.

Moreover, going to college is time-consuming as people have to spend about 4 years learning. Most students require about 10 hours a week in study time for each class they take. In addition, they need about 10 hours a week doing assignments and other activities related to every class they attend (Nuckols et al., 2020). Meanwhile, the colleagues who did not attend college use this time to work or do other things that improve their lives, such as investing and running businesses. At the same time, it is worth noting that earning a college degree does not guarantee employment. In most cases, students have to spend additional time looking for jobs, especially in competitive fields. On the contrary, those who did not attend college will have already found jobs or established businesses. There are many jobs that do not require a college education, including arts, entertainment, athletics, and other fields. Although a college education is considered a requirement, it is not absolutely necessary in many fields.

Based on these views, it is clear that a college education is not all that a person needs to succeed in life. Nevertheless, a college degree improves the probability that a person will achieve important skills and knowledge that are applicable in many spheres of life and career. Moreover, the certificate provides a high level of guarantee that one will get employment. Therefore, it is worth concluding that a college degree is important but not absolutely necessary for people to achieve their goals in life.

References

Archibald, R. B., & Feldman, D. H. (2017). The road ahead for America’s colleges and universities. Oxford University Press.

Augustine, J. M. (2016). Exploring new life course patterns of mother’s continuing secondary and college education. Population Research and Policy Review, 35(6), 727-755. Web.

Bahr, P. R. (2019). The labor market returns to a community college education for noncompeting students. The Journal of Higher Education, 90(2), 210-243. Web.

Jones, J. B., & Yang, F. (2016). Skill-biased technical change and the cost of higher education. Journal of Labor Economics, 34(3), 621-662. Web.

Nuckols, W., Bullington, K. E., & Gregory, D. E. (2020). Was it worth it? Using student loans to finance a college degree. Higher Education Politics & Economics, 6(1), 1-19. Web.

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