Is college a waste of time?

I had a debate with a friend recently. The topic in question was whether a college degree is valid or necessary in today’s society.

The friend argued that employers aren’t interested in a diploma as much as they are experience. My friend hasn’t gone to college, and he landed an amazing job as a film and graphic designer. He stated that college would have been a waste of time, because he has done hands-on work since he graduated high school and therefore, he didn’t need to spend time reading text books.

The friend (who shall remain nameless for the sake of anonymity) boldly debated that college is a business that simply makes money, and that there is no need to go into debt when employers today don’t validate textbook knowledge because they would rather have the work experience. He stated that you could get a job in most professions without any time, or diploma or certificate, and that it was more important to start work immediately and get the experience.

I debated back that college experience was vital and that employers are interested in a college degree to test if you have learned and are capable of a good work ethic. I grew up in a home where knowledge is power and a good education was always strongly emphasized. And being one semester away from graduating, I didn’t appreciate hearing that I had wasted four years of my life and a lot of money.

But in today’s society, where the internet is a ruling source of information and almost anything can be searched on Google and learned within finger’s reach, I couldn’t help but leave the conversation feeling in a small way that maybe he was right and my time in the classroom wasn’t actually necessary.

I took the matter further and did some additional research because surely if a college degree didn’t actually give you an upper hand, then why would so many people go to school? President Obama advocated the need for a college degree in his January 2010 State of the Union Address when he said, “In this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job.” And statistics and ratios have proven that those with a college diploma make more money than those without.

But, according to an article in Times Magazine, 40% of college students don’t receive a degree within six years, which is increasing the amount of student loan debt for Americans across the nation. The article also stated, “It has been estimated that, in 2007, most people in their 20s who had college degrees were not in jobs that required them: another sign that we are pushing kids into college who will not get much out of it but debt.”

With the economy struggling, many students may wonder if college is worth their time and money. Well, rest assured because more recent studies and articles have been published that show that many professions are sending employees back to school to get degrees and certificates so that they can better compete in the industry.

An article in the New York Times, recently explained how many hospitals are requiring higher levels of education for nurses. In the past, many nurses only had to earn a C.N.A. Certificate to find work, but now more and more jobs openings from the American Nurses Association are requiring Bachelor’s degrees.

So, for most job-seeking adults across the nation, although it is hard work and a large of amount of time and money is required, your best bet on landing a good job is to stay in school.

2 Responses to "Is college a waste of time?"

  1. Michelle   July 21, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I agree with your friend for the most part. Work experience in anything is probably better. College nearly ruined my life and I had to leave after four and a half years without a degree. I was made to retake a series of classes I had excellent grades in because the school I went to was changing their state requirements. After I took extra classes I was not able to get into a class that I needed to complete my degree. I left one semester short of finishing. I had to work in the same job I worked in when I was 18. My friends had cars, saved money and began families and I was left with nothing. I am now 34 years old and my advice to kids coming out of highschool is to be frugal and save your money and don’t let some silly school rip you off. Go to college only if you love math and science and have already studied hard and have A’s in these subjects. Otherwise, work…

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  2. Thomas   July 29, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I believe in the Greek adage that a good moderation of both are necessary.

    College doesn’t prove intelligence, it only proves work ethic. I sort of teeter to the friend’s debate that experience is paramount. I accept too, that education is good. But education can come from the internet, like you stated. The only thing college can guarantee in knowledge over a self-learned person is a thorough understanding.

    I know that in some fields of telecommunications, they would rather hire a military veteran with no degree, than a fresh out-of-the-mills graduate.

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