For many young adults, you may be wondering how valuable a college degree is these days, and whether it’s really necessary for your future. While it’s true you can obtain a good job without a degree, consider the many reputable companies that don’t require a college education for certain positions, but getting one can increase your earning potential in the long term and expand your career opportunities.
Recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveals that the college enrollment rate among high school graduates has dropped from 66.2% to 62% due to the pandemic. In 2009, the rate was over 70%. Let’s examine why students are avoiding college degrees and why a bachelor’s degree could benefit your future.
Undoubtedly, one of the biggest hindrances for students to pursue higher education is the burden of student loan debts. It can be daunting to start your adult life with the weight of a substantial financial obligation over your head. After all, navigating the world as a young adult can be challenging enough, right? Shockingly, over 50% of students graduate with debt, translating to around 45 million Americans holding student loan debts, amounting to a staggering $1.7 trillion. This financial strain has discouraged many students from investing in their education and making the necessary sacrifices.
According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the cost of attending college as an undergraduate has increased by 169% from 1980 to 2020. These rising costs may prompt you to explore alternative options for higher education, especially if you or your family will struggle to afford college.
Another issue that arises is that your work schedule may be restricted due to your classes and study obligations. Pursuing an associate degree may require you to spend up to two years attending classes, whereas a bachelor’s degree can take up to four years. This could result in missed opportunities to earn income, causing further financial strain.
Now, let’s shift our attention to the advantages of obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree or any college degree in general.
One of the key benefits of attending college is the potential for a higher salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with a Bachelor’s Degree earn almost $30,000 more per year than those with only a high school diploma. Similarly, a two-year degree translates to an additional $8,000 in annual income. Here are some examples of potential weekly earnings based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Doctoral degree: $1,909
- Professional degree: $1,924
- Master’sdegree: $1,574
- Bachelor’sdegree: $1,334
- Associate degree: $963
- Some college, no degree: $899
- High school diploma: $809
- Less than a high school diploma: $626
Having a college degree can provide access to a greater range of employment options. This means that possessing a bachelor’s degree may allow for advancement in one’s career, even if the initial job does not require a degree. Additionally, the choice of major can impact career prospects. A degree in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) holds more value than a degree in liberal arts. Even if the STEM degree is from a less prestigious institution, it can still lead to higher earnings than graduates with degrees in business, social science, or health science from top-tier universities, at least in the short term.
While attending college, one gains more than just job-related skills needed in the white-collar workforce. Critical thinking, time management, organization, money management, writing and speaking, teamwork, and project management are also learned. Those who don’t attend college may miss out on the chance to develop these specific skills that employers seek.
On a final note, multiple studies have shown that students benefit not only financially but also by improving their quality of life, finding purpose, encountering diverse perspectives, and forming lifelong friendships.
Deciding whether or not a college degree holds value is a personal choice that each individual must make. Weighing the pros and cons is a wise decision, but there is no definitive answer. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree does not guarantee success. Strong interpersonal skills, ambition, and creativity can lead to success, even without a degree. Moreover, there are lucrative employment opportunities available that do not require a college degree. You must be truthful with yourself and thoroughly evaluate all possibilities before coming to a conclusion.
Content Writer and Researcher