One of my favorite rants, the debasement of educational currency:
With the increasing cost of college tuition, student loan debt, job scarcity, and opportunities for entrepreneurship online, is it any wonder that grads are wondering: “was getting my degree worthwhile?”
Well, that’s up to you do to decide.
5 Reasons Why Your Bachelor’s Degree Is Worthless
1.) Academic Inflation
In 1970, only 26% of middle-class workers had education beyond high school. Today, almost 60% of all jobs in the US require a higher education. Your new bachelor’s degree is becoming increasingly worthless as more and more people graduate from college, as jobs that used to need only a bachelor’s degree now prefer master’s degrees.
If the excess of bachelor’s degrees wasn’t enough, now we have an increase in master’s degree students who have decided to stay in school to wait out the recession: not only have you gone to school to earn a commodity, it’s now a sub-standard commodity.
It’s only a matter of time until you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and a certification to mow lawns—there go all the summer jobs for kids.
2.) The Illusion of Safety
What used to be a guarantee of safety and stability has recently turned into an exercise in musical chairs. There aren’t enough jobs for everyone, and you find yourself scrambling to not be the odd man out.
According to a CNN article, less than half of college graduates under the age of 25 are working at a job that requires a college degree. The same article mentions a 2012 study from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce titled “Hard Times: Not All College Majors are Created Equal,” showing that bachelor degree grads have an unemployment rate of 8.9%.
3.) Drowning in Debt
On average, the cost for one year of attendance at four-year public college or university costs 40% of a family’s income, and on average, approximately 40% of students leave school with a debt of $22,000. If you’re from a family that earns between $40k and $50k, that number jumps to $28,000.
Middle-class families will have more debt from student loans than their upper-class peers, who can pay for their education outright, and their lower class peers, who often qualify for grants and financial assistance. You might even end up being the one paying $1,000 a month for 20 years just for four years of school.
4.) The Source of Creativity
People seem to think that the simple act of attending college makes you more innovative and creative. That’s simply not true.
Creativity and innovation don’t come from what people teach you: new ideas come from your personal experiences, and your interaction with your environment.
5.) Your Professors Aren’t Concerned About Your Education
I know people who graduated with a degree in engineering who couldn’t do a derivative. I’m not joking.
Many professors are far more interested in tenure and their research than they are about making sure you get the best education they can possible give you. They grade you on curves so you can’t possibly fail, and the curriculum never changes. In fact, one study showed that 45% of students are no better at critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing after their sophomore year than they were when they began.
5 Reasons Your New Bachelor’s Degree Was Worth The Effort
1.) You’ll Be Better Off With One Than Without One
Although getting a degree isn’t the golden ticket to success anymore, it’s still a rite of passage in America. If you do need to get a job, having a degree can only help you—not only will you have more options to choose from, but you’ll also get paid more. It’s estimated that a degree is worth $1.3 million in additional lifetime earnings.
2.) Head-Fake Learning
College is about more than book-learning: it also teaches you how to think. It’s about learning how to become a leader and how to make impossible deadlines work on 3 hours of sleep.
If you take advantage of everything higher education has to offer, it’s an opportunity to learn how to initiate change, negotiate and experiment in life without any dire consequences.
Going to college really is a once-in-a lifetime experience: living in a dorm room, having all-night study sessions…it’s not something that you can put off. Education you can get at any time, but this experience you can really only get once. Once you’re older, you mature too much to take the kinds of risks that are taken in college.
You fundamentally change as a person during the course of those four years. Anyone who’s gone to college and has friends who haven’t know what it’s like to go back home and realize that their old friends are exactly the same as they were four years ago. I’m not saying that people who haven’t changed are somehow worse off in life, I’m saying that if you want to experience that kind of world-view change, college is the best place to do it.
4.) Intellectual Stimulation
It’s not until after college that you realize how mentally stimulated you were every single day. You were learning new concepts from half a dozen different subjects every single day; you could pick what you wanted to learn about next semester using electives, and at any given point, you could meet someone on campus who could completely alter your world-view with a single conversation.
5.) It’s Really Fun
You have your entire life in which to work: even if you end up being self-employed, work is never going to be as carefree as college was.
A college degree doesn’t guarantee security, just as not having a college degree doesn’t guarantee failure. When making the decision whether to attend or not, check the facts as they pertain to your individual situation. If you do go to college, it should be for more than just getting a good job and making money; that may not happen for you. It should be for the experience, intellectual stimulation, and all the things you learn in tandem with your classes. Don’t depend on a company to save you—save yourself by getting the most out of your four years at school.
Featured photo credit: Students throwing graduation hats in the air celebrating via Shutterstock
I’ve previously posted on this topic, and on the occasion of having finally been awarded a Master of Science in Management, I think that part of the problem is a simple matter of supply and demand. We have told at least two generations now that everyone needs to go to college and get a Bachelor’s Degree, thus flooding the market with degreed individuals, when in all honesty, the positions requiring degrees on paper don’t really need a degree in practice. Employers list a degree as a requirement because it shows a commitment to follow through and complete something. Whether or not the applicants did or not cannot be readily determined.
We have debased the value of a degree in the same way the Fed debases the US Dollar by going on “printing sprees” (nevermind that physical dollars are not made, just zeros added to accounts) that inflate away federal debt. The losers are the ones who must pay for this education that often unfortunately does not have a good return on investment.
At the same time, we have placed trades in a negative light as not as prestigious as white collar jobs, but tradesmen often must display much more intelligence and ingenuity in accomplishing their challenges. Not to mention that having done something with one’s hands is often much more personally rewarding than the outcomes of thinking jobs. Trades teach real-world job skills, not just abstract concepts that one may have opportunity to apply in his or her career, IF one can even recollect the concepts when the opportunity for application arrives.
Being a Gen-Xer, my generation will probably be the one that has to first deal with this dilemma with its kids, and I’m happy that I don’t have to worry about it for at least another ten years.