The Tennessean recently ran an article, 4-year Degree Losing Luster, on their front page. The article immediately caught my attention as I am a 2010 college graduate and someone who is currently studying for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) to pursue a Master’s degree. My current employer hired me based on my experience, market knowledge, personality, and yes, my college degree! I struggled to find a full-time job that appealed to me after graduation, but I never once questioned the value of my degree in helping me obtain a good position at a company, grow intellectually, and should things fail in the future, be a safety net or a chance for me to start over.
I found the article to be one-sided. Those interviewed were mostly males in skill based jobs; including an insurance adjuster, IT technician, and wed developer. I am sure that the average female opinion varies drastically. Male or female and no matter which side you’re on, money/cost is the main ingredient used in the 4-year degree argument. I want to offer my opinion as I am female and not in a skill based job. I want to touch first on the core of the argument, money.
Salary or Tuition
Many young people believe it is more important to work 40+ hours a week right out of high school than spend 10+ hours in a college lecture hall. The sad truth about higher education is that most students rely on loans and scholarships to fund their education and usually that is still not enough. In the article, Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal was quoted saying “College gives people learning and also takes away future opportunities by loading the next generation down with debt.”
In the end those that spend hours in the classroom rather than on a job come out with a higher position and salary. The artcile cited a report by thePewResearchCenter in May 2011 that found that college graduates make about $550,000 more than high school graduates over the course of their careers. I know that some people have circumstances that may prevent them from immediately going or finishing. Continuing education programs are more popular than ever because people well into their careers without degrees know they are being withheld salary and opportunities because of not having or completed a degree. This leads me to my main point about the true value of a 4-year degree.
Job Monotony or Career Freedom
A 4-year degree allows career freedom. Liberal Arts degrees unlike technical degrees liberate your mind to think about things from various aspects and be able to transfer to different areas. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and because of my liberal arts background; I have the opportunity to choose what I want to do. Someone with a 2-year degree or no degree might not have that freedom. For example, a recently hired CEO of a manufacturing company may not know how to build a car, but he has the knowledge to adapt to different industries, skills to lead, and is well educated.
A degree is reassurance that the employer will most likely get what they are paying for. A 4-year college helps develop students’ rational thought and abilities to be diverse where other routes like trade school emphasize specialization and over time monotony. You can follow the college road that can take you anywhere or go on a straight path that has no exits.
Learn, perfect your skills, and profit or work to sustain, and maintain. A degree is essential to having a progressive career. The 4-year degree has not lost its luster it still holds it clout and is more important than ever in an economy where each position open is becoming more and more competitive.