My Cousin Sonya, a finance professional in New York, worries about her teenage sister. She refuses to attend college for further education and wants to become a YouTube influencer.
Sonya, who hails from a family of highly educated (with postgrad degrees and PhDs) individuals, says, ‘I can’t accept this; she should at least get a graduate degree!’
So the teenager is now in a dichotomy and wonders, ‘ Should I go to college? Why is a college degree important? Is a college degree necessary to be successful?’
People Are Losing Trust In College Degrees
Society is divided into people who trust the education system and those who do not. But it does not mean that those who attend college necessarily believe in education or a degree system. They merely see it as a means to a promising job/career. But, unfortunately, this is what has been projected on us since our childhood.
This is a more conventional way our society has worked since the industrial revolution.
Then we had billionaires who were college drop-outs running the world’s biggest companies. This had people questioning, Is a college education worth it?
A global decision intelligence company named Morning Consult regularly researches how people think and behave, which helps leaders to make appropriate decisions. For example, in one of its recent surveys, Morning Consult found a trend in people’s trust in the public education system.
According to its data, Gen Z has the lowest trust in the public education system; the trend has been falling with every generation since Baby Boomers.
The survey also revealed that in Oct 2020, 62% of US adults parked their trust in the public education system, and today that number stands at 57%.
With time and technological advancement, people, such as social media influencers, stock market traders, or software developers, figured out ways to make money at home. These people needed education and some learning but not necessarily a college degree to pursue their passion.
You may like to read Why students should learn beyond college subjects and three ways to do that
Is College Education Worth it?
Our real-life experience starts once we are out of school life. Then, we enter the adulthood phase. We have to manage not only our expenses but also ourselves.
In our recent webinar, ‘Looking Beyond College Studies’, the experts spoke about the importance of college education.
Alok Jain, co-founder and CEO of an EdTech startup Moonpreneur.com has the following opinion on college education:
A college education is indispensable in specific streams; for instance, an individual has to study college to become a doctor.
There are other streams, like a software developer who might not need to attend the entire four years to get a good job and might only need a high school education and some training to get into the work industry. However, our schools need to prepare more to give industry-ready knowledge to their students to make them directly employable.
Here is an excerpt from Annette Ethcuit, a Coach and Mentor based in the UK and adept at understanding personalities and skill requirements at every level.
I think one should go for a college education. I am glad that I got a college degree even though my job was not based on my degree. But am I glad that I went to college? Yes.
I got to learn so much during that time. I learned several life skills living away from my family. Although a person never stops learning throughout their lives, studying in college lends you an environment to build confidence and a strong personality that helps you when you get into the workforce.
Here is another excerpt from Praveen Tyagi, former educator and the founder and CEO of Evelyn Learning Systems.
The question of a college education has many faces. It’s interesting how, recently, tech companies like Tesla and Facebook have been telling people that they do not need an actual degree to get a job in their companies.
But we see that when people apply to these companies and give interviews, there is a bias towards people who hold degrees. So those interviewers will look at what college you went to and what your CGPA is.
In my opinion, it is critical that we attend college. I agree when Annette says that college is an experience in itself. I had one of my best days when I was studying engineering.
But coming to another aspect of this question, do we have to have a degree to succeed? No. But college prepares us for our future endeavors and is a good investment.
Gen Z: Lack of Motivation for College Degree
Gen Z comprises young adults who want to ditch the traditional education path and follow their dreams.
Caption: Majority of Gen Zs do not find college education relevant
In a new Multiverse Survey, we learned that 72% of Gen Z believed college education did not give them the required skills needed to start their careers.
They mentioned the skills gap between college education and the industry, which is a demotivating factor in studying college.
Nearly 75% of Gen Z adults believe that it would be their first choice if they could get a chance to pursue their dreams without having to attend college.
They (60%) want to work (internships, apprenticeships, etc.) and gain experience rather than study in a 4-year program and start from the base.
The Fault in the Education System
There is a lot to be done with a college education. The cost of Education is escalating, which is cited as one of the top reasons for students not wanting to go to college.
For most of them, it is a cycle of working to study and studying to get work!
The modern adult says, ‘Ditch that college education and let me find jobs without the degree’.
If this is a reason, then in that case, the education system should be fixed in a way that can make college education more accessible and feasible. For example, we know that only some qualify for a grants program or a scholarship.
Making the Right Choice
The students must evaluate, and they need guidance. Proper counseling from parents and educators at the right time (probably high school) can help students understand what they want to do in life.
Randomly applying for courses can be a waste of time and money if the student wishes to pursue something other than a career in the subjects studied in college. Instead, parents, educators, or counselors can counsel students to understand what they want to do and their preferred career choice and then choose the career path accordingly.
A college education is an experience in itself. It gives us a brief glimpse into the real world of work and self-management.
A doctor might want to study medicine in college and cannot do without it. Another example can be a child who wants to be a musician and may or may not like to learn music through college.
Not only this, but as a society, we need to reduce the biases based on formal degrees and become open to skill-based hiring, which can give equal opportunities to individuals who are skilled and have experience.