08 October 2012

Should Everyone Go To College?

Numerous studies have shown that people who attend college earn much more over their working lives on average than those who never attend college. Compared to those with a high school diploma, college graduates reportedly earn approximately one million dollars more over the course of their economic lifetimes. Numerous economists and educators have called this oft-cited “million dollar figure” into question; however it is certainly clear that a substantial “wage premium” exists for those who complete college. 

There is an even larger lifetime earning gap between those who earn a graduate degree and those who only have a high school education. These statistics would seem to indicate that a college degree is a must in today's world because what one learns contributes to what he or she earns.  The question must be asked as a result: Should everyone go to college? Given the undeniable economic premium associated with college, the question would appear to answer itself. However, is college attendance – and to a greater extent completion – truly the causal factor of the supposed wage premium? Might college actually not be for everyone, despite the definite economic advantages of degree holders?

Many colleges are open enrollment, which means that the only requirement for admission is a working respiratory system. These colleges will take just about anyone. They will also take money from these unsuspecting souls. However, these open enrollment colleges are not alone; even the more selective schools are more than willing to take tuition money, often in the form of student loans, from students. Some people will benefit immensely from the work that they do in college for their degrees. Others will not.

Some people are not cut out for college and some may actually do better without a four-year degree. Here are a few examples of people who should not go to college.

Party Animals

Those who think that partying is the main major in college may want to think twice about attending college or at least wait a while before taking the plunge.  Some fraternities and sororities use just about any excuse to start partying and with this partying there is usually quite a bit of drinking. Have an exam in the morning? It's not exactly a good idea to take a final while coming off a hangover.

The Academically Lazy

Some people just do not like to study or do school work. These people could have a problem succeeding in school because people tend to excel at tasks they enjoy. If a student did not like studying in high school, it is quite probable that she will not like spending late hours in a library studying.

Those Merely Looking for a Significant Other

Those who think that men or women are the only reason to attend college might be better served sitting out after high school. A significant other or significant others can detract from the concentration that would be necessary to completely succeed in school. Focusing upon a boyfriend or girlfriend too much can take away from studies and waste time and money.

People Who Only Need Vocational Training

It may be beneficial for some people to sit out college and focus upon vocational school. Many states provide some level of vocational training for high school students. People who want to become welders do not need a bachelor's degree in philosophy or business. They merely need a welding certificate and some experience to make a decent salary. The same can be said for those who want to become electricians or plumbers. A vocational education can open doors to successful careers in these instances.

The Undecided Millions

Some people may have no idea what they want to study. There is always the option of taking general education classes for a year or two, but it may be more beneficial for such students to go to work. Perhaps they will find something that interests them and they will be ready to go to college later.

It is not necessary to be exceptionally brilliant to succeed in college, but there are some people who may want to think twice about going, at least for a while. There are plenty of satisfying career paths for those who do not have a college degree. Why go to college if being a master welder is a your career goal?  

This article was written by Karl Stockton for the team at Civil Engineering Careers.


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