Ever since your earliest days at school, you’ve been told to attend college after high school graduation. You were told it will land you a great job, but the path to a college degree is expensive. Exact figures vary, but it can be over $5000 a year, and the cost is only going to rise!
Is a college degree worth it, however? Should you go to college if you can’t get a job after graduation? Let’s take a closer look at whether a college degree is worth it and if it’s possible to get a high paying income with only a high school diploma.
A College Degree Teaches You Valuable Soft Skills
One of the strongest reasons to go to college is the valuable soft skills you will learn. Soft skills are the communication skills and social skills that are a part of a person’s social intelligence and emotional intelligence.
Examples of soft skills include critical thinking, organization, communication, leadership, creativity, work ethic, and time management. Employers advertise what hard skills they want from a prospective employee, such as reading, writing, math, and computer skills, but they also consider your soft skills.
When you attend college, you coordinate deadlines, work on group projects, and complete written assignments. All of these aspects of college involve working on your verbal and written communication skills, and critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Your time in college is also an opportunity to make connections with other people who may even work in the same industry someday. These connections may help you to find unadvertised job opportunities in their companies.
Depending on the source, from 15% and as high as 30% of jobs are advertised. That means at least 70% of jobs are in the hidden job market. Your connections could help you to find jobs that you didn’t know existed. These people may even become your job references.
Higher Income and Employment Stability
Another reason to go to college is that statistics show those with a college degree have a higher income earning potential. Those with college and graduate degrees have lower rates of unemployment.
In 2019, those with a doctorate degree had a 1.1% unemployment rate, compared to a 5.4% unemployment rate for those holding less than a high school diploma.
The same study about full-time wage earners found that those who had a bachelor’s degree made a median of $1248 in weekly earnings compared to a median of $746 in weekly earnings for someone with a high school diploma.
Having a college degree is not a guarantee that you will get a job, but you are statistically more likely to be employed than someone without one.
A College Degree is Required for Some Careers
Going to college is a necessity if you want a career that requires a degree. For example, a post secondary education is necessary if you want to be a doctor or lawyer. Also, a degree may be required for jobs in a specific field of expertise. In these cases, your choice of career has already made the college decision for you.
Generally, a bachelor’s degree is expected for most entry level jobs. It may even be the minimum qualification to apply for one. For some jobs advertised, the degree may not seem relevant to the skills required in the job description, but it is the minimum level of education.
A college degree also helps with career advancement, particularly if you are looking for a role in management.
A High Income Can be Achieved Without a College Degree
If you can’t get a job and you don’t have a college degree (and you aren’t interested in getting one), you have another option.
This path involves a lot of ambition and thinking outside of the box. You may need to take risks to try something most people won’t do.
Your income will be similar to a roller coaster ride, with no guarantees of stability, but if you persist and you’re successful, your income will have no limits. One path is entrepreneurship. You’re selling a product or service that people want. Another path is developing your knowledge or skills so you are highly successful or highly in demand, such as excelling in investments or your talent.
Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Li Ka-Shing, Richard Branson, Jay-Z, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Uma Thurman are just a few entrepreneurs, musicians, and actors who either dropped out of high school or college and became household names.
Achieving their level of success is not easy. You’ll need to be a self starter and invest in your own education and skills. It also helps to have a good mentor. Many entrepreneurs either didn’t get a college degree or built a successful business in spite of their college degree.
Going to college has its advantages. You can go to college to work on your soft skills and build connections that will be valuable later in life. Another reason to go to college is to get a degree as a first step to a career. A degree generally increases your income level and chance of employment, but it doesn’t guarantee employment. If you’re willing to work hard and develop a high income skillset, you can be financially successful without a college degree.
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