Do You Really Need A College Degree?

Katelyn Ruggles, Photojournalist

Traditionally, it is common for people to go to college right after high school to get a degree and then a stable job in that field to be able to provide for themselves. Many people associate going to college with being successful in the future. However, in this day and age, traditions are being challenged, and the new normal may be that one does not even need to go to college to be able to provide for themselves and live a stable life with a successful career. 


College is not an option for many teenagers during these new and advanced times. It has become much more competitive and it seems almost impossible to fit the requirements some colleges have for admission. Students take harder classes and do more extracurriculars than students in past generations have, making the admission process for colleges much more challenging.  Also, it has become much more expensive to attend colleges than it was in the past, causing many high schoolers do not have the opportunity to further their education. Camille Khong (10) thinks that “in an ever-growing modern society I do not think it is necessary to go to college. Higher schooling is always safe to have, but if you have a clear mindset and goals I believe that you can create your own path in life that you can make the most out of”. 


Some say that college is needed for success, while others say that it is a scam and a waste of money. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2018 only about 40% of 18-24-year-olds were enrolled in college. Many are finding that college is not the right path for them, and have taken other steps to find a stable career. Junior colleges, trading schools, and specialty schools for fields like cosmetology are the places where many of these students who do not attend college go. 


However, not attending college does have its complications. Although it is possible to find a career without a college degree, it is difficult. Northeastern University discovered that unemployment rates are about 8% higher for high school graduates than it is for college graduates. People with a Bachelors’s will earn about 66% percent more money than high school graduates, adding about 1 million more dollars to their total lifetime earnings. All these statistics only depend on what one would consider success though. One may say that being as rich as possible is successful, while others may say that being as happy as possible is successful, which college might not achieve. 


Through statistics, it is clear that people with college degrees make more money. However, that is only if they are motivated to actually do something with the degree they earn. For some, college is too competitive to get into, too expensive to attend, or just not appealing. There are other options for these people, however, they might not provide the same opportunities that a college degree would. But if truly doing something that you love and seeking happiness is one’s main goal in life, then college might not be the right thing for them, while it could be the right thing for others.