It’s April, and many of my students are about to leave to take on the world. Which means the newest batch of students will be moving in. However, everyone has had the question: “is college a good choice?” And trust me, it’s not just the people who are going to college asking this, it is also the people leaving college.
Is college a good choice?
Dave Ramsey and I agree on many things when it comes to higher education. Education is an investment. You should avoid going into debt for it at all costs (read Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover to learn how). That all being said, is college a good choice? For most people, I believe the answer is yes.
First, let me start by clarifying that this post will be exclusively about college for a two-year or four-year degree, not grad school, med school, etc.
Altogether the lives of college graduates appear to be more financially sound. A study from Georgetown University shows that college graduates make $1 million more than high school graduates. Note this is different depending off the majors. STEM majors make among the highest mid-career while education majors make the least (sorry education majors).
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics college grads are less likely to be unemployed or to hold lower paying jobs.
Now most college graduates do not hold jobs related to their major, and people can start businesses which become empires with no help from college. Yes we know, we have heard of these stories before about college and how it did not help people with their success. However, college degrees are still very much worth while depending on the major.
Why is college a good choice? I have heard from a business adviser that college degrees show dedication. Depending on the major you take, you could learn some of the newest information in which could help you form a business. Also for many jobs, like being a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or scientist, you do not have a choice, you need a degree. I have never heard of a university or lab that accepted a resume from someone who did experiments in their secret lab at home. In fact, that may concern them.
Like I said, this all depends on your major. Now, that does not mean chase a STEM degree and abandon your passions. What that means is you need to choose a major that the market has demand for. When you go to chase this endeavor, have your passions follow you. If you read Creativity Inc. mentioned in one of my previous posts you will read about how Mr. Catmull used his passion of art with his expertise in computers to forge Pixar.
Chasing materialistic goals without the boost needed from your passions will burn you out. This will make you depressed, unmotivated, and possibly even have addiction problems.
How High Should Your Education Go?
As far as you want. I know it’s a bit of a cop out, but last I checked everyone has different desires. I desire to go for a PhD despite the cries of anguish from society about the lack of PhD jobs (a bit skewed in data). However, I have also heard of the lack of jobs for lawyers, soldiers, college graduates, unauthorized immigrants, high school graduates, and high school dropouts. I think everyone has heard of these “horrifying job outlooks.” More surprising though is that Inc says even medical physicians job outlook is wavering. *Gasp* it’s almost as if no matter where you go in education or how high you go, the job market will likely be wavering.
That or there is a group of people trying to scare everyone about the economy. But who would benefit from scaring people? It’s not as if fear is an emotion exploited to receive a certain response, like paying attention to something. Could people of a certain group be trying to produce fear of entire populations, just to see certain numbers and make money? No, that’s just some crazy conspiracy, I am stupid for even thinking that, sorry. (Extreme sarcasm notice).
What To Do If The Job Outcomes Look Terrible
Not matter how you look at job outcomes, I believe that your education is what you make of it.
For example, I am going for a biochemistry PhD. I am also learning methodology of advanced biochemical equipment, programming, statistical analysis, and project management to name a few things. Which of those two sentences do you believe will catch more employers eyes? The last one of course. Your degree is a paper. If you feel your degree (a piece of paper) is going to be the most powerful thing on your resume/CV (another piece of paper) then you missed the point of receiving an education. In fact, I want to argue that your resume is far more valuable than the degree mentioned near the top. The degree is just the object that cracks open the door, you must shove that door open yourself.
So should you go to school again? Or do something else? Why not use your dreams to push yourself to learn more instead? Besides, the fact that college graduates make more money may have nothing to do with their education, but how driven they are.
There are many people who can help you choose your path in education and many books to read. I have not personally read many on choosing a major, so I will not recommend any. Even if I wanted to, I could not do a 180 on my formal education right now. However, we live in the digital age, the time when you could not have more quality information at your fingertips. If you want to learn something learn it. If no one will hire then hire yourself. Start a business with your knowledge. Knowledge hands down is the greatest tool to forging your wealth.