Get a college degree.
Attending college has become the socially demanded path.
Getting a college degree has become a goal in the chase to achieve happiness.
The only problem with the ‘college = success' equation is that an academic education is not the answer for everyone.
The value of having a degree is decreasing.
Is it something everyone needs to have?
Yes, if you are an aspiring doctor, lawyer or architect.
But not all jobs require you to show a piece of paper that you are competent in your skills.
The numbers show that nearly 50% of students who start a bachelor’s degree never finish. And the average student loan debt for students in America is $30,000.
As parents, is it right to push your kids down that path? For most people, is that kind of debt necessary to give their children a chance at the good life?
If you opt out of a college education, what are the alternatives?
Read below for some suggestions and the 5 reasons why I think college is overrated for many people.
#1 College Doesn't Teach You HOW To Think
Hundreds of students reading the same book and being taught the same information by a lecturer who probably never worked in the industry. That is the average scenario in a college.
A classroom full of students who are guided to regurgitate information back to the professor.
Although some colleges are exceptions to the rule, we are on the whole caught up in an education system that does not foster critical thinking.
The academic setting trains students to succeed in specific and controlled settings in an artificial environment.
At college, you will get to meet people with different opinions and lifestyles who will challenge your thinking in new ways. But it is not necessary to attend college to find yourself in such an environment. You're likely to meet people in your neighborhood who can expose you to new ideas and ways of thinking.
Lifelong learners constantly improve themselves – that's what's going to determine success.
Colleges can be theoretical and not in touch with reality. In a world that is in constant flux, colleges are not changing fast enough. For many decades, too many Americans have bought into the idea that every person needs to get at least a bachelor's degree.
Times have changed.
What matters more is having the skills to do the job, not a certificate that shows you've spent 4 years studying a topic.
A bachelor’s degree can still be a good investment, but it is possible to succeed in America without going to college for several years.
#2 Student Loans & Opportunity Cost Outweigh Benefits
Every year, millions of young people around the world ask themselves, “Which college and degree are right for me to launch a successful career?” Often the choice is guided by where the student will have the best campus life experience.
The question is not whether attending a university is a positive experience for most.
It’s whether the experience is worth the opportunity cost?
In Europe, some countries offer free education. But is it free? What about taxes paid by citizens? The money for your education has to come from somewhere.
An American studying in Europe is still paying the opportunity cost in the time it takes to complete a degree.
Instead, you may want to look at other opportunities – internships, trade, travel, opportunities that could earn you money while you discover what you are truly passionate about.
Additionally, let's talk about the elephant in the room – more than 50% of American students have $30,000 of debt when they graduate.
College degrees are becoming more expensive each year. You must effectively mortgage your life to pay the price of a certificate. The return on investment for these college degrees is often much below the burden of debt acquired.
Sadly nowadays not everyone can afford to go to college. And those who are able to afford a bachelor's degree carry the hopeful ambition that they are going to make a lot of money once they graduate. Some degrees pay for themselves but most won't.
No surprise then that Barack Obama hinted that ‘folks can make a lot more by learning a trade than they might with an art history degree.‘
Not everyone with a college degree is going to make lots of money. How are you going to pay back those loans? It could follow you around for the rest of your lives.
#3 Information & Education Is Relatively Inexpensive
Education is crucial, college is not.
Matt Damon's character, Will Hunting (from the movie Good Will Hunting) was spot on with this quote, “You wasted $150,000 on an education you could have got for a buck fifty in late charges at the public library.”
Information itself is inexpensive and easily accessible. Why not try checking out one of the books every man should read?
Online sources offer University classes for free and your local library is a treasure trove of information. If the only way you're going to learn is by going to University, maybe that's the best route for you.
Otherwise, consider alternatives to education. One of the sources that I use to consume information regularly is Audible.
You can carry your book with you anywhere, listen to it on your daily commute and be more productive as you listen to well-narrated stories as you go about your chores. I've downloaded over 200 of their audiobooks and have the app on my phone.
#4 There Are No Guarantees (Besides A Bill)
The problem is that people attend college with the mentality that they are going to find a dream job and make a lot of money once they graduate.
People need to understand that just because someone attends college that does not guarantee anything for them, except being in debt for a long time.
A college degree won't guarantee you a high-paying job. It won't even make you a skilled leader with a shot at the corner office.
Developing skills such as leadership, decision making, people and resource management takes real practice and experience. These are skills which cannot be acquired in the classroom.
Don't fall for the implied guarantee that a college degree is your ticket to lasting success.
If you put the same amount of time and energy you’d spend completing a college degree into trying out internships and exploring options for apprenticeships, or even joining the military, you might do just as well – if not better.
You need to make the right decision for you.
#5 You Won't Find Your Purpose There
The phrase, “finding yourself,” is commonly used by college students. Studying at a well-recognized university has somehow become a rite of passage for teens to pass into adulthood and a successful career.
Young people often choose college as an involuntary option after school because they haven't decided yet what to do with their lives. A 4-year degree buys them time to make that decision.
Colleges sell themselves as places a person can find themselves.
That's not always true.
A college campus is a protected world. It's not the real world.
The mentality people should have when thinking about going to college is that they are going to keep expanding their knowledge on something they love, and will use that skill to solve real-world problems.
If you want to be a primary school English teacher, don't expect a degree in education to prepare you for a room full of screaming kids. You might even find yourself hating the profession of teaching.
Just the same as you find a style that suits you through trying on different clothes, a man finds himself by doing things. By developing skills. By testing out ideas and projects in the real world.
The easiest way to find out what you are worth is to put yourself in challenging situations. Get a job. Volunteer with an organization to develop skills. Travel the world while working part-time. Pursue your current passions outside
Travel the world while working part-time. Pursue your current passions outside of college. And then consider a university degree, if essential, after establishing your true passions in the workplace.
College is the perfect choice for many people, especially with a full-ride scholarship. As a student at Cornell College for my Bachelor's and at the University of Texas for my MBA, I can attest to the positive attributes of a college degree. The social and professional network is valuable
But I have also arrived at the conclusion that self-education is the best kind of education.
FAQs: Why a College Degree Doesn't Guarantee Success
Does having a college degree guarantee success?
No, having a college degree does not guarantee success.
While a degree can provide valuable knowledge, skills, and credentials, success is influenced by various factors such as individual abilities, motivation, personal circumstances, and career choices.
What are some reasons why a college degree may not lead to success?
Lack of Practical Skills: College education often focuses on theoretical knowledge, and graduates may lack practical skills required in the workforce. Real-world experience and specialized training may be necessary for certain careers.
Changing Job Market: The job market is dynamic and constantly evolving. A degree that was highly valued in the past may not hold the same weight in the present or future. Industries and skill requirements can change rapidly, making it essential to adapt and acquire additional skills beyond a degree.
Job Market Saturation: Some fields may experience an oversupply of graduates, resulting in intense competition for limited job opportunities. A degree alone may not be sufficient to stand out from the crowd, and individuals may need to differentiate themselves through internships, networking, or additional qualifications.
Entrepreneurial Pursuits: Success is not limited to traditional employment. Many entrepreneurs and business leaders have achieved significant success without a college degree. Starting a business or pursuing self-employment requires a different set of skills and qualities that may not be directly related to a degree.
Networking and Soft Skills: Success often depends on strong interpersonal skills, networking abilities, and emotional intelligence. These skills are not always taught directly in college, and individuals who excel in these areas may find success even without a degree.
Are there successful people who do not have a college degree?
Yes, numerous successful individuals have achieved great accomplishments without a college degree.
Examples include entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (co-founder of Facebook), and Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group).
These individuals demonstrate that success is not solely dependent on formal education.
Is a college degree still important in today's job market?
While a college degree continues to hold value in many industries, its importance may vary depending on the field and specific job requirements.
Some professions, such as medicine or law, require specialized degrees.
However, an increasing number of employers are emphasizing skills, experience, and practical knowledge over formal education. It's important to consider the specific industry, job market trends, and individual career goals when evaluating the importance of a degree.
Does this mean I should not pursue a college degree?
The decision to pursue a college degree should be based on various factors, including personal interests, career goals, and the specific requirements of the desired profession.
While a degree may not guarantee success, it can still provide valuable knowledge, networking opportunities, and a foundation for certain careers.
What other factors contribute to success besides a college degree?
Continuous Learning: A commitment to lifelong learning and acquiring new skills can contribute to personal and professional growth.
Work Ethic and Persistence: Success often requires hard work, dedication, and resilience in the face of challenges and setbacks.
Networking and Relationship Building: Building a strong professional network and cultivating positive relationships can open doors to opportunities and collaborations.
Emotional Intelligence: The ability to understand and manage emotions, communicate effectively, and work well with others can greatly impact success in various fields.
Adaptability and Flexibility: Being adaptable to change, embracing new technologies, and staying current with industry trends can contribute to long-term success.
Click below to watch – 5 Reasons Why College Degree Does Not Equal Success