According to a recent article by CNBC, the cost of attending college has changed
drastically over the last few decades. The average tuition for public schools in 1988
was $3,190 per year while today the average cost is $9,970. That is an increase of
213%. And for private schools the cost is even higher going from an average of $15,160
in 1988 to $34,740 in 2018. It’s no wonder that 71% of college graduates are walking
away with an average of $25,000-$32,000 in debt from student loans.
Because of the cost difference, it is often difficult for the parents who went to college
in the 1980s to understand the monetary struggle that students are faced with today.
Many Millennials, those born from the early 1980s to the late 1990s, were forced by
their parents to attend college despite not being able to afford it. The attitude was
that college was necessary for success and that if you had a degree, then you were
guaranteed a job. Unfortunately, Millennials soon realized that the job market was
becoming increasingly difficult to get into without experience in their field, something
that their degree did not prepare them for, and many former students were left with
thousands of dollars in debt and no career prospects to show for it.
The younger generation, Gen Z, has started to take notice of the lack of correlation
between college and job success. Many new adults are diverting from tradition to find
education elsewhere. Rather than spending thousands of dollars on a degree that
would force them to take two years of general education classes before being allowed
to focus on their specialization, they are choosing instead to enroll in online courses
specifically designed to teach the skill they are looking to use in their prospective
This strategy works especially well for those looking to start their own businesses,
freelance, or work for a startup. There are also plenty of jobs that no longer require
degrees from applicants, looking instead for experience and skill set. It is these places
that encourage students away from pursuing higher education.
The attitude in general has changed around higher education. There is less prestige
associated with having a degree because it has become much more commonplace. It is
ultimately much more important to have a solid job than a piece of paper on your wall.
I am a strong advocate of the belief that everyone should be a life-long learner.
Education does not need to be contained to the walls of an institution. We can learn
from the places we visit, the people we meet, and the situations we place ourselves in.
Of course, there are certain careers in which higher education is required. Doctors,
lawyers, teachers, and engineers, just to name a few, need to have degrees if they
want to break into their field. But, as a result of the cost of these degrees, less people
are enrolling. Instead, many young people are straying away from traditional careers
and pursuing new ways of finding financial success through modern technology.
For example, thousands of people have gained success as content creators on
YouTube, forgoing working in an office for recording and editing videos from home.
Many of these people learned the skills used for running a YouTube channel from
online sources, such as Skillshare, rather than through a college education. Some even
dropped out of college when they started gaining a strong enough following in order to
pursue their YouTube career full time. It has taken a long time for YouTubers to be
taken seriously as professionals, but today the platform has proven itself to be a valid
career choice for those who are willing to put in the time and effort to make it work.
The biggest difference between college dropouts who work in fast food and the ones
who become millionaires is not just luck, it’s dedication. If you choose to search for
work outside of college then you need to be aware of your options and take the time
to develop the skill set you need in order to become a valuable asset to the career you
want to be a part of. The best way to find success is to continue to expand your
knowledge of the topics you are passionate about.
It is possible to avoid the time and money spent on college and still be successful in
your career, but only if you have the self-discipline to continue your education on your
own. Even then, it will likely be more difficult that the traditional route. So go for it,
but make sure you know what you are getting yourself into first.
Article by Cady Suppe