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Is a College Degree Necessary?

28 June 2021

Every year thousands of high school graduates enroll in college or university to finish a four-year or a five-year course that would hopefully take them to a comfortable and successful life. Parents do whatever it takes to send their children to college. Governments offer financial aid to students who are financially constrained to pursue higher education in the hope that college graduates will create more manpower resources for eventual economic prosperity.  

However, many students opt to enroll in vocational or technical colleges which they think would give them more chances to land a job easily.

There are several reasons why more and more students choose learning vocational skills than pursuing college or university education.  

One of the reasons for studying vocational or technical skills is the cost of a college education.

It is expensive to send a child to college such that for most parents, sending a child off to college is an enormous investment.

Thousands of money are spent every year for a student to finish college because it does not only entail tuition fees but other miscellaneous fees such as library fees, projects, dormitory costs, living expenses, etc. as well. Books and laboratory fees are also included which can make the parents be in the red. 

Or if a student loan for his college fees, that would also cause him enormous debts after graduation. There are times that salaries they get when they are already in the workplace are not commensurate to the college expenses they incurred. According to Foster, there are students who incurred enormous debts “a staggering $1.2 trillion." It will take many years to repay this money.

Another reason many students do not pursue college education anymore is that they are taught theories that are not applicable to the workplace.

Ben Nelson, founder, and CEO of Minerva Project claims that students “need universities to teach them how to think."

In university, students are taught the usual way of acquiring knowledge from the books and lectures from the professors. They don’t have enough exposure to the reality that after graduation, they don’t seem to apply those theories in the workplace. 

In this light, companies have to train incoming employees for a particular task. As such, employers also spend much money on training as part of the process of hiring and getting those hired on the floor. Nelson also opines that “most schools do little more than teaching the students." Inside the classroom, it is a routine to listen to the professor, take notes and do assignments, memorize readings from the books which do not allow students to think more critically and freely.

Next, there are available jobs that do not need a college education.

If a student needs to earn money quickly, they can do away with a college education and apply for jobs that do not require a college diploma. For example, refrigeration and air-conditioning technicians, auto mechanics, electricians, and other technical jobs are in demand these days.  

There are situations where a technical-vocational graduate is more easily hired than a college graduate. Moreover, they earn money even in the comforts of their homes. Some people would want to have their cars fixed at once, so they look for one mechanic in the neighborhood.  

And these graduates learn more while they do their jobs. Indiviglio asserts that “a person could be developing on-the-job skills, instead of absorbing academic knowledge that he or she will never use” (Indiviglio).

And the more a person performs his job and applies his skills, the more he becomes an expert which could earn him more money because people will be looking out for those who have expertise on a certain task or job. Moreover, a worker can get the skills he/she needs right on the job he/ she is performing.

For example, a “news writing style is easily adopted on-the-job as a journalist” (Indiviglio). As such, the four-year course in Journalism can be learned while you are doing your job and actually earning money.

Lastly, there are online courses that students can complete to earn a diploma.

These courses that can be cheaper than enrolling in college or university. Online courses offered by educational institutions such as Coursera greatly help students to finish and learn a skill in the comfort of their homes.  

Most of them are offered free, which makes it alluring to most students these days. On the other hand, there are for-profit colleges such as Minerva, where students “take all their classes online” (Lapowsky). 

At Minerva, the students experience a new way of learning, and “how you analyze and interpret everything you learn” (Lapowsky). This is the kind of learning experience that trains the student’s way of thinking and analytical prowess. This could possibly be more useful for students when they already take off from college and do a certain job.

It is more practicable because you know how to think and analyze a situation or problem that can be encountered on the job rather than see remember theories in college which can be sometimes useless when the supervisor says the task is “urgent.”

A college education will always be a requisite to land a job and have a brighter future, however, students think there are other ways to make money. They shy away from higher forms of learning due to several reasons such as economics, available online courses, on-the-job training, more experiential learning than theoretical which are more practical and reachable at the moment.

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