By Oleander Johnson
In modern times, a college degree is often considered a necessary step towards a successful career and financial stability. For decades, the higher-education system has functioned as a beneficial, but not explicitly required resource to access wealth, comfort, luxury, and other pinnacle privileges of the so-called “American Dream”. But times are different now. With rising higher education costs, stagnant wage growth, record inflation, and a changing job market, many question whether a college degree is truly worth the investment of their money and time.
College is not meant for everyone, so you will have to determine if pursuing a degree can help you to achieve your specific career and professional aspirations. In this article, we examine the pros and cons of getting a college degree so you can make a more informed decision about whether this path is right for you.
Pros of Getting a College Degree
- Higher earning potential: According to the S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), college graduates with a bachelor’s degree and above earn a median weekly income between $1,334 – $1,909, while those with only a high school diploma make about $809 a week.
- Better job opportunities: Many jobs that were once available to those without a degree, such as in manufacturing and administrative positions, now require a college education because the job market has shifted towards a more knowledge-based economy.
- Development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills: College graduates are better equipped with the ability to think critically and solve problems, allowing them to apply those skills to any field.
- Increased civic engagement and better health outcomes: College graduates are more likely to be engaged in their communities and have better overall health outcomes due to greater work-life balance, vacation opportunities, and less physical labor.
- Networking opportunities: College is an opportunity for students to meet people from diverse backgrounds, professions, and perspectives, allowing them to form invaluable connections that may come in handy when job hunting.
Cons of Getting a College Degree
- High cost: The cost of obtaining a college degree has risen dramatically in recent years, making it a significant financial burden for many students and their families.
- Student loan debt: Many students, if not most, need to borrow money to pay for their education, meaning they are starting their professional lives in debt. Unfortunately, significant student loan debt can take many years to pay off.
- Underemployment: As business needs continually shift from year to year, many jobs that once required a college degree are now being outsourced or automated, cutting costs for the company, but eliminating key job roles. This has led to increased competition for jobs, and many college graduates find themselves underemployed or struggling to find work in their field of study.
- Limited job opportunities in certain fields: Some degree programs may have limited job opportunities, leaving graduates to struggle finding work in their preferred career field.
- Time-consuming: College is a time consuming commitment that requires patience, organization, time-management, and dedication. Many students have to sacrifice other opportunities or experiences while they are in school.
Ultimately, a college degree can be a valuable investment for many individuals, but it may not be necessary for others. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. Research your field and the job market to ensure you are making a wise investment.