More people are encouraging young adults to continue their education into college. Is a college degree a necessity for a successful career? What do you actually gain besides a list of classes that you took? The difference may be what a college degree says about you and you're worth to employers.
At the turn of the 20th century an 8th grade education was the norm. As time progressed, high school education became the norm. At the turn of the 21st century a college education is rapidly becoming required for more and more entry level jobs. Studies by The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education note that in 2004 over 87% of the general population agreed that high school graduates should continue their education. These are statistics that point to an increasing need for an educated workforce.
If you are looking for the skills to excel in your career, adapt to an ever changing marketplace effectively, and demand higher salaries then a college education is a necessity. Although there are examples of people who drop out of college and create a billion dollar industry, these examples are relatively insignificant in comparison with the general population. This is very similar to the statistics that point out the small number of college athletes that make it to the professional level athletic organizations. This is not meant to be discouraging however, having a college education provides employers with the knowledge that the holder has at least 4 years experience with the following skills:
- Able to work with teams or in groups
- Capable of meeting deadlines
- Effective communication skills
- Understands today’s business needs and requirements
These skills are highly valued by employers and there is not a more effective way of proving these skills than a college degree.
Along with an increasing ability to obtain gainful employment, a college education also helps guarantee a higher salary level than those without. The cost of everything is rising from cars to houses to groceries. (Even if the price of the product does not increase, the portion size will decrease to match inflation.) In order for one's salary to maintain, beat, or just match the rate of inflation you need to have every edge available in the job market and that means higher skill levels and experience. Again, a college education proves that you have many of these skills and the statistics are there to prove that the incomes are higher.
For many high school graduates that are getting ready to make these big decisions such as “what to be," college or not, make sure to look at the benefits both tangible and intangible. There are some studies that point out the increasing debt and difficulty with student loans that makes for an argument against college degrees. Before you listen to these arguments completely, let's go back to the skills that are gained from a college education. Not only do you actually get to learn and use these skills such as, effective communication skills, the ability to meet deadlines, but you also have a formal statement that says you have them. The college degree is much like a job reference that can attest to your character and skills. These abilities also become tools for you to use in your work and personal life and they cannot be taken away. It is very difficult to accomplish this at an entry level job that does not require a college degree.
If a college education is not a necessity for career success it is rapidly becoming one. Looking at the examples above the criteria gets higher and higher. For many high school graduates, now may be a great time to identify how you would like to spend the next 4 years.