During the summer, after your high school graduation, it feels like every other person asks you, “what’s your plan for the fall?” People ask this with the preconceived idea that you will respond with, “Oh, I’m attending X college in the fall!” It is almost abnormal to not respond like this. Whenever you respond with, “Oh, I’m going into the workforce or a trade school,” a disapproving facial expression usually follows. It seems to be common knowledge today that college is always the answer. Even Freeman Hrabowksi, the President of the University of Maryland, said that college “provides limitless opportunities” and “prepares you for life” (Hrabowski 260) in his essay "http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-hrabowski-20131221-story.html". It’s also usually said that people who go college and receive a degree are better prepared in the workplace and tend to make more money compared to people without a degree. With this information, many people assume that in order to become prepared and successful in life you need a degree and the college experience.
While this does seem like a valid point, I feel as though we are pressuring too many students to go college that are not cut out for the academic stress and pressure that college brings. I firmly believe that people who do not go to college and do not have a degree can be just as successful, not only in life, but also with work ethic and authority in the workplace. This doesn’t mean that they will be qualified for the same jobs, but this does mean that they can, at absolute least, live a happy middle-class life. This middle-class life is what even some college students strive for. If we continue telling teenagers and young adults that they need to go to college in order to be prepared for life, we may actually be making life harder for them in the long run. If everyone goes to college and everyone has a B.A., how will the unemployment rates suffer? Many factors go into deciding if you should go to college or not and not everyone is cut out for college.
We need to stop telling young adults that the only road to success is college and we need to stop shaming young adults that want to go into a trade and the workforce.
Sometimes when someone tells a high schooler, who is thinking about a trade school, that they should go college, they feel pressured to choose the college option. They think that college is always the answer. When you tell them this, they immediately shut down other ideas that they may have had for their future. Counselors and adults are not going to be able to guarantee a job in a specific career for these students down the road once they have a four-year degree, but they can point them in a direction of a flourishing job market. The careers associated with the flourishing job market do not necessarily need to be college-based. There are so many more options that a student has other than just going to college. As an adult or a guidance counselor or a public figure, they need to show the students all of the options that are available to them. In this day and age, there are plenty of resources and different options and careers that a young adult can choose. Some of these do not even require a two-year or a four-year degree, never mind eleven or even twelve years of schooling. Not everyone needs to be a dentist or a pediatrician. A doctor is not going to be able to fix my plumbing when my water heater breaks and I sure as hell wouldn’t trust my dentist to cut my hair.
Unless technology completely takes over, we will always need people in the trade and always need people in the workforce. Electricians and farmers will always be in demand. Every time someone gives a negative look or remarks a derogatory comment to someone that tells them that they are going into a trade is actually doing the world a disfavor. We will always have a demand for all sorts of jobs that require none or different levels and types of training.
A Bachelor’s Degree is not always the answer.
Hrabowski claims multiple times throughout his essay that college provides limitless opportunities to students that could prepare them for jobs (Hrabowski 260). Sometimes these opportunities just aren’t what the student needs.
Jobs and careers are constantly being advertised. You can look in some different magazines and in most times you’ll find some statistic about how adults with a B.A. will make X amount of money more than someone without one. These sorts of statistics look convincing with numbers, but think about all of the variables that are (or are not) put into consideration when the study is being done. Granted one may have a B.A., but who says that these people are using their degree for their job. It is crucial to know whether or not variables like this are included because sometimes they are not.
Another point that never really gets attention is the fact that a student will likely have an overwhelming amount of debt to deal with as soon as they graduate. You don’t have to start paying your loans back until 6 months after you graduate college. That leaves six months of hoping and praying that you get a job that is financially secure so you can start paying back these overwhelming loans. But now imagine that the six-month grace period ended a year ago and you still do not have a job. Now you are even more in debt than you were before. You still do not have a job, but thank God you have that Bachelor’s Degree. I can imagine that with some degrees rather than others this happens more frequently than you think.
The most important part is whether or not you are happy with your job.
I know that if someone offered me a job that paid seven figures a year, but the job would tedious and boring, I would have to decline. Loving or even liking your job is so important. If you have a job leaving high school and you’re making decent money and loving it, why leave? Why would you leave a job that you love to go college for four years and go into something different? Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of college students that have the next ten years planned out. They know exactly the way to get to their dream job. For those students, students that are cut out for it, college is the best thing and there is no reason to shame them at all. The important idea that lies here is: if you are happy at your job and you can get by, stick to doing what you love.
But what will happen to job security and unemployment rates if everyone obtains a B.A.? Will they suffer or will they flourish? I guess we won’t really know until it actually happens, so until then I’m sticking to my guns that not everyone should attend college. While the idea seems like a good idea on the surface, I truly do not believe that this is a good plan for everyone. College is absolutely a great idea for academically smart students that are ready to further their education. On the other hand, if you are not, I don’t believe that you should waste your time getting a degree if you could be doing something different with your life. There are many thoughts that go into making a college decision and many different paths you can take. At the end of the day, you need to do what makes you happy. You can’t dread going to work every day and think that you live a happy life. If you are a productive citizen in society (with a degree or no degree) and you are happy, no one should force you to go to college, no matter what the benefits are.