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Traditional College: Do we get our money's worth?
There have been numerous studies equating a college degree with financial success. It's true that the numbers bear this out: a person with a college degree makes substantially more than the person without a college degree over the course of their lifetimes. However, a case may be made that begs the question: is it the individual rather than the degree that is behind this financial success.
In other words, is the person who can afford college and has a keen interest in increasing their knowledge that much likelier to succeed than the economically challenged person who is struggling just to keep a roof over their head in any event. Would the financially successful graduate have been financially well off if they hadn't attended college?
For every person who points to their college degree as the foundation of their success, there's another highly successful person who didn't attend college, didn't finish college, or ended up doing something completely different than their college major.
In recent conversations with people who've changed careers multiple times as industries and economies and interests morphed and expanded and contracted there is a repetitious theme to be heard: it takes about three months to learn any set of job skills. What you make of your career after that is up to how you perform. And how you perform in the job world has no relationship with how you perform on written tests in college.
Books are fascinating and you can learn a lot from them. Mentors can provide motivation, encouragement, support and insights that college can never provide. But without street smarts, people skills and a sense of dedication a college degree can only do so much.
One area where colleges fail is in providing exposure to what the real world equivalent of your major is like. There are a great many cases where students have spent three, four, five, even six years studying until graduation, only to find out that they didn't like the job. Medical students who found out they couldn't stand the site of blood, lawyers who couldn't stand the work load, film students who didn.t realize they'd have to start at the bottom...the list is endless.
Certainly, there are careers where a degree is necessary: lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants among them. But there are also a number of careers that a degree is not a necessity for: in fact, the more creative and fun a career is, the less likely it will require a degree. Skill, absolutely; but a degree, rarely. Simply put, there.s no single answer to the question "Do you get your money's worth out of going to a traditional college?" Just remember, your goal is not to get a degree, it's to have a career in a field that interests you. Choose accordingly.
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