Is College Worth it?

What Does a College Education Mean Today?

A college education is worth far less than it was a couple of generations ago for Baby Boomers. Many of the upper level business and management positions are held by older generations, who have a degree and 20+ years experience. Recent college grads can't compete with education and experience.

In fact, during rough economic times, skilled trades are coming out ahead. Business positions, mostly held by college degree holders, are at an all-time low with a downward spiral of hiring and a dramatic increase in lay-offs. Who is still thriving? The mechanic who fixes your car and the medical assistant who takes your temperature. Yes, these two professions require some schooling, but of a different nature; Technical or vocational schooling, which is typically a two-year program and a lot easier on the pocket book than a four-year Bachelor's Degree.

Suzie Orman

What's the Word on College?

Influential financial guru, Suzie Orman, states 'college is only worth it if you plan on being a doctor or lawyer. Technical or vocational programs give you a better return on investment.' Additional statements made by other financial professionals suggest if you are in the bottom 40% of your high school graduating class, then forget about college, you probably won't graduate or you won't do well anyway.

There's a theory that people who are going to do well in life, are going to do it whether they attend college or not.

In today's market, the idea of college is almost a joke- little more than having a certificate in woodworking- worthless. College graduates are feeling betrayed. Didn't we all hear the constant mantra of 'Go to college' from teachers, parents, and employers? And now our president has made the progressive statement about making college possible for everyone.That doesn't seem like it will improve the value of college if everyone can get a degree. What about those of us with student loan debt- we paid big bucks for something that will be near free soon. We're already seeing the backlash of too many grads.

A recent tv program had some college graduate guests on to say their degree only got them an impossible amount of debt. One graduate, with a Master's Degree was working at a call center making $10 an hour. With today's economy people are better off staying in college, hiding there away from the ugly real world of lay-offs and debt. Actually, a student spends an average of 5 years in school and 5 minutes on the application for a student loan. Instead of college prep courses or college success courses, there should be debt advice or debt management courses because it's a 50/50 chance you will be successful, but it's almost a 90% chance you will be in debt after school.

College and education statistics argue that those who attend and graduate college will make more money (up to 1 million dollars) in their lifetime than those who do not have degrees. However, the statistics are skewed by million/billion dollar college grads like Donald Trump and Bill Gates.And then we're back to the argument that the super successful people would have made it anyway, degree or not.

What do Different Types of Colleges Offer?

Technical and vocational schools are gaining popularity. These schools educate for less money than a typical university, and students end up making more money than university grads upon entering the job market- a great return on investment. The caveat is these positions usually require some manual labor, which can be hard on the body after years of this profession and sometimes they have a cap on earnings or position level.

I got my degree because I didn't want to be a waitress anymore, it was hard on my body, even during my twenties. I was shocked to learn that upon graduating from college, I was only eligible for full-time jobs that paid far less than my part-time waitress gig.That's when it hit me that my degree was worth hardly mroe than the frame it resides in.

Ivy league colleges are great for the rich, who will attend college regardless of it's worth. Those colleges offer excellent networking with future employers and other wealthy influential individuals.

If you are going to attend the traditional university:

  • Make the most of your schooling experience, no not beer drinking, but gaining skills and contacts.
  • Don't concentrate on the ultimate goal of claiming your piece of paper on graduation day- the degree doesn't mean anything to anybody anymore. Take it from an unemployed 4.0 college grad starting my own business.
  • Get creative to get a leg up on your competition. Have professors write recommendation letters for you, etc.
  • The skills you acquire from college are worth something to future employers. Having a degree may get you in the door, but sell your own skills beyond that point.

Some excellent skills you can pick up at universities are:

  • Public speaking, writing, researching, team dynamics and projects, time management, and working independently to reach personal goals and assignment deadlines. 
  • Take advantage of internships for experience.
  • Instead of taking extra courses to achieve a minor, get certified in something else that offers some hands-on training. Many universities have certification programs.

Visit a career counselor regularly to stay on track and make sure the field you are seeking is something you want very badly, enough to be in debt over.

Is College Worth It?

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ThisGirlsOpinion profile image

ThisGirlsOpinion 8 years ago

Would not trade my college degree for a milliion dollars!  Riches of the mind far outweigh material wealth in my opinion. However, I do agree with you that successful people will be successful no matter what. However, as an introvert attracted to intellect I appreciate being able to dissect a great novel more than making lots of money. I am a simple person with few material needs, so for me this works.

Writer Rider 8 years ago

Didn't Norman also say we should support the bank bailout? Personally, I wouldn't give her too much credence. She's in business and will therefore support their agendas.

izettl profile image

izettl 8 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Writer Rider~ I agree with you somewhat about Suzie Orman's advice, however, she is very influential and you can't ignore the fact that she's on Oprah, who is another influential person. You don't have to agreee with what she says, but many Americans watch Oprah and all the other shows that Orman appears on and these Americans may be listening to her. SHe may support business but she is 100% in the public eye with many people taking her advice.

Thisgirls opinion~ My college was funded mostly be finanical aid and therefore taxpayers, etc paid for my tuition so don't you think I'd like to contribute what I learned back to the community? Learning for the sake of learning is fine for ME, but I'm a self-learner and didn't need a degree if all I wanted was to learn more. What was the benefit of the taxpayer and government paying for me to go to college?   

Writer Rider 8 years ago

izetti-That's beyond the point. The point what are her intentions. Just because Oprah has her on her show doesn't mean that her intentions are pure.

TheMoneyGuy profile image

TheMoneyGuy 8 years ago from Pyote, TX

Suzie's intentions are very self serving, but in this case she is correct from a financial perspective only. From a self improvement/self actualization perspective which are in fact valid human needs, there is a need to attempt and or complete college.

From a financial perspective, it is a bad deal if you fall into the categories quoted from Suzie. The cost of the education will hinder any and all attempts at financial independence later in life.


izettl profile image

izettl 8 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

The Money guy~ Agree with you 100% on financial perspective vs. self-improvement. I think there is nothing better than reaching a goal if college is that goal, but the part that irks me is people being misinformed about college being the way (only way) to get a good job or make money. College usually isn't advertised as a form of self improvement, but rather a means to an end.Only way to tell is to poll people on why they are going to college, my bet it is for financial or career gain.

Writer rider~ you may have misunderstood me about Orman as far as a valid and reliable source of information. My point about her is that she could be wrong about everything, but since she is so publicized many people might interpret that as validity and I bet a ton of them are actually taking her advice. Not everyone, like yourself, is wise enough to not take her at face value and follow the crowd. Most Americans don't have a financial advisor so they listen up when somebody like her starts talking (a lot). The average American is desperately seeking financial advice right now and may not be as discriminating as to who is giving it to them.

If you watch her on an Oprah show she plays a rather convincing part as someone who wants to help Americans.      

RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

College is one of those things that depends on the person and what they want to do in life. As you said, today the "blue collar" jobs are coming out slightly ahead, but that can change.

Great piece!

izettl profile image

izettl 7 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

RGraf- I think you bring up a good point about blue collar jobs coming out ahead right now "but that can change". The generations following the baby boomers swarmed the colleges and now that we/they are entering and establishing themsleves in the workforce, a degree has become commonplace. We may see a time soon in the future where people will not seek a college degree with such gusto as these last two or three younger generations and then maybe our $50,000+ education will hold some value- I hope to see that soon.

issues veritas 7 years ago

I believe that the primary reason to go to college is to get a better paying job or career. This is especially in today's world of very expensive college costs. Many of the student loans are never repaid because they are so large and the jobs these students landed after college didn't pay that well.

I don't believe that college graduates are smarter than their non college peers. At best they are more educated but that is a definition and not a comparison of intelligence.

I have over 250 college units and an advanced degree, so I am not saying these things because I didn't complete college. I always felt that academia was not responsive to the needs of industry. College needed be four years or even three years in duration, if high school requirements were upgraded. Much of the first year college courses are at the high school level but you pay college prices.

If we dispense with the side dishes and focus on the courses related to the students major, there would be less need to stretch the college education to 4 years. Yes, this is the way that technical schools operate. The problem is that they don't get the recognition from industry that is competitive with the traditional Greek and Roman education started many centuries ago.

My point is that education should be set in the K through 12 and that would give everyone with a high school diploma an opportunity to get jobs only offered to college graduates. Those students that go beyond high would be going to immerse themselves in a major that is geared to what industry needs from their educated applicants.

Each year a high school education falls further behind in technology, while industry leaps forward advancing that technology. The purpose of education is not to make you a well rounded person, it is to educate you for a better paying and more rewarding career. The problem with that is when you leave high school, you have no idea what you want to do work wise. Some high schools are progressive and try to close the gap or that uncertainty but these are the exceptions and not the norm.

There are many more issues on your topic but my comments address only a few of them.

izettl profile image

izettl 7 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

issuesveritas- I love your comment! I agree on everything you said about high school especially. First year of college is more like charm school and high school combined. I had a friend who went through the first two years of college just to be "well-rounded" enough to be able to intelligently talk to and eventually marry a rich guy. I laughed at her silly scheme. On the other hand, I went through 5 years of college to get a better paying job. Guess whose laughing now? She married her wealthy guy so college actually paid off for her.

issues veritas 7 years ago

Thanks, I neglected that aspect of college and its use for success.

Perhaps that might be a curriculum addition to many colleges, or was that what they do in finishing school?

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

Our university system is different, we don't do a major, we study one thing for 3 years. I did 3 subjects from 16 to 18 for A levels (English lit, history, and geography) and a half subject (AS level) in physics. Then at university, I did law, and that was all I studied. The only time you do more than one is if you do a degree such as modern languages, or, as my uncle usefully did, Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic.

issues veritas 7 years ago

London Girl,

Interesting, that would be three years of general education, that didn't pertain to a major. Law school here would be after an under graduate degree had been attained. Then there would be up to three years at law school for a JD (Juris Doctorate) degree.

I suspect that if you were going for an engineering degree, you A levels would be different.

Over here, you have under graduate (Bachelor of Science or Arts), masters and doctoral degrees.

For example, for an engineering curriculum, an under graduate BS Engineering, the an MS Engineering and finally a PHD Engineering. So the average worker in the engineering field would have a BS, while an engineering designer would have an MS degree. The PHD would most likely be in the pure research and development end of the field.

BTW, is there a national test at the university level?



izettl profile image

izettl 7 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

That would be interesting to have a national university level test.

The first two years of college here are a complete waste of time, yet that's what seperates them from trade/vocational schools. I don't know anybody who has a generalist type job. most people specialize in one area or field so why, again, do we have the first two years of college because it's all "general" knowledge- waste of time and money. 

issues veritas 7 years ago

I agree,

Instead the first two years would be better spent, if you could get college credit for working as an intern in the industry you would like to as your career. It would be a win win for student and industry as well as modernizing academia.

The general education was existent centuries before the technology explosion. The traditional education is apparently resists the explosion.

K to 12 that a lot of general knowledge.

Unfortunately, industry is using the archaic academia to select its workforced based on degrees.


issues veritas 7 years ago

I agree,

Instead the first two years would be better spent, if you could get college credit for working as an intern in the industry you would like to as your career. It would be a win win for student and industry as well as modernizing academica.

The general education was existent centuries before the technology explosion. The traditional education is apparently resists the explosion.

K to 12 that a lot of general knowledge.

Unfortunately, industry is using the archaic acadamia to select its workforced based on degrees.

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

"Interesting, that would be three years of general education, that didn't pertain to a major. Law school here would be after an under graduate degree had been attained. Then there would be up to three years at law school for a JD (Juris Doctorate) degree.I suspect that if you were going for an engineering degree, you A levels would be different."

Once you go to uni, you have picked a single course, really.

So in my first year at uni I did English Legal Systems, Contract & Tort I, Property I, and Public Law. In my second year, Contract & Tort II, Property II, Criminal Law, and European Law. And all of those first and second year subjects were set - no choice at all. In my third year, I did Jurisprudence, Law of Evidence, History of English Law, and Media Law. Only the first of those was compulsary.

Yes, had I wanted to do, say, medicine, I might well have done the A levels my flatmate did, biology, chemistry, maths, and further maths.

Here, we can specialise quite early on. From the ages of 14 to 16 (which is the minimum school leaving age) you study 7 - 10 subjects for GCSE, and study all for the whole period, with exams (nationally set and marked) at the end. I did the compulsary, at my school, Eng. Lit, Eng. Lang and Maths, chose German and Latin for languages, and also did history, music, classical civilisation, geography, and physics. Both my sisters did biology and chemistry, and fewer humanities.

"BTW, is there a national test at the university level?"

A national test in what? To get in, or graduate?

A levels are marked centrally, not by the school at all.

issues veritas 7 years ago

London Girl,


Thanks for the feedback.

A national test for getting out. We don't have one in the states but I wonder how the different colleges and universities can be judged when offering the same degrees. For example, BS in Electrical Engineering, any school offering this degree cannot have their graduates compared between schools, The higher ranked schools get more prestige with the same degree over say a state university.

Your comment on A levels marked centrally, is that national or regional.

Your law studies are similar to here with the exception of your local law and European Law. There are more electives and some additional basic law. There are courses in Equity, Constitutional Law, Conflicts of Law (which state's law apply in a multi-state case, trusts, wills, community property (Divorce Law), patent law and more. There are also studies in Procedural Law, Trial Law, Income Tax Law, Legal Research as well. And thanks to Watergate and Richard Nixon's lawyers that claimed they didn't know what they were doing was not legal, it is required at least in California to take Ethics.

I am aware that only Barristers go to trial in England, so for Solicitors, all they would need is an understanding of Trial Law and not the practice of it. All and all not a bad way to divide the legal system.

With fifty states in the US and each one having their own laws and procedures the bulk of studies are for the general law and then how the law is applied in the state. Each state has its own Law Test to become a lawyer in that state. Federal Law is uniform naturally across the nation.

I suspect that it would be closer to International Law in its scope.


izettl profile image

izettl 7 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

issues veritas- I love your thoughts on all this. A national test to get out would be interesting because we may see that some of the higher priced colleges aren't producing smarter grads.

I got my Bachelors in psychology, but even my last two years were "general" courses within various fields of psychology. I would have focused on research psychology, but they only offered two such courses pertaining to that so the rest of my last two years were filled up with physiology, abnormal psych, organizational psych, clinical counseling, and other courses that were general in nature.

If I were to reorganize that 4 year degree I would have the first two years consisting of the courses I took the last two years. Then a specialized area of psychology the last two years. But we psychology majors know that if you want to work in the psychology field you must have at least a Masters, but usually a Doctorate degree.

My internship was what landed me a job out of college and not many students took advantageof internships- I think they should be mandatory and part of the regular curriculum.

I believe some areas of study, like psychology and law, are built that way within academia on purpose. You "must" get an advanced degree to work in the field. In America we think that those with an advanced degree are more competant because they have put in more years of study, but if we started with specialized studies as soon as we entered college- or before- we'd have the same level of competance and not necessarily the need for an advanced degree.

Londongirl- When I went to high school there was no mention about what we would do for a career, everbody just said "go to college". I believe that's why our first two years of college are general subjects because most students still don't know what they want to do. It's somewhere around the second year that we might pick a major area of study. If this career uncertainty was addressed in high school then we wouldn't need the first two years of college to decide what we want to be when we grow up.

I like a lot of things about your system much better than ours.


issues veritas 7 years ago

izetti and Londongirl,

I think, as they say the three of us are on the same page. One wonders where the rest of the world views the question oonsidered by the hub. But from your comments it appears to be one that is more than a national issue.

I appreciated the information presented by both of you in your comments. I hope that this hub gets more attention, especially from those students still in high school or those that have just entered college. To get feedback from those people that need some perspective about the worth of college. It is most likely  a universal theme for parents ot want their children to go to college, as Londongirl was urged to do.

Thanks and cheers

LelahKimball profile image

LelahKimball 7 years ago from USA

A college degree is still important. Many companies won't look at you without a college degree--it's not just important for doctors and lawyers. It just doesn't give you the same edge that it used to. Having a graduate degree, or two, is what does that now. As far as experience goes, any college/graduate student can gain that through internships (as mentioned). I do agree that returns on that particular investment takes decades though.

izettl profile image

izettl 7 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

lelahkimball- true a college degree gets you in the door- sometimes and depends on profession too. I had always heard from parents, school advisors, etc. that what you spent on your degree is what you should expect to make your first year- ie. if your higher education was $40-50k than your first year income should be in that range. That was a big lie or a bad rumor.

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

Equity, trusts and land law are all included in Property I and Property II. Wills, divorce, etc are options in the third year, not compulsary elements.

The practical side is covered in the year at Bar School (barristers) and Law School (solicitors). At Bar School the course covered advocacy, opinion writing, drafting, ethics, civil procedure, criminal procedure, etc. There were also a couple of optional subjects, and I did employment law and advanced criminal law in my final term.

For my LLM (masters degree) I could choose any law options I wanted over the year, and did International Human Rights, West European Legal History, Administrative Law, and Public International.

So we do four years of law, 3 at uni, and one year vocational. Then a year in pupillage, for barristers, and two years of a Training Contract, for solicitors, and then, finally, we are qualified. So a total of 5 years to be a barrister, minimum, and 6 to be a solicitor.

Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

Four-year degrees are more common, so they can be less useful than they once were. In my opinion, if someone is going for the four-year degree they would be wise to go on past that, in order to get the most of it. Even if four-year-degrees aren't quite what they once were (job-market-wise), if someone goes for the education (and doesn't party and cheat their way to the degree), education is always worth it. If someone is "on the ball" it is possible to build financial success without a degree, but in this day and age it can be far more difficult. If someone isn't "on the ball" then a degree doesn't help him much in terms of financial success.

Suze Ormon is a "money lady", so (rightfully) all she tends to look at are numbers and dollar signs. In her PBS talk on women and money she essentially tells women not to follow their urges/wishes to help family with money because they'll end up with none later on. Numbers-wise she's probably right, but life isn't always about just how many dollars you leave to your family when you die (and sometimes - how "female" of me - it isn't even about whether you spend on something that doesn't pay for itself in time.

If you do what you should while in school, then the education is always worth it. On the other hand, if you're sharp and always learning well beyond what you "have to" learn to get a degree, you can probably figure out a way to be financially successful without a degree. If you think a degree alone will magically get you the best job, make you financially successful, and/or raise your IQ by 20 points; then you won't find the degree "worth it".

izettl profile image

izettl 7 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

LisaHW- agreed on several points. Suzie Orman is extreme about viewing money logically, but I agree that many women don't think logically about many areas of their life and we always put others first so I think she is strongly urging women- or anyone- to cover their ass financially. If you don't have money then you can't help family sooner or later anyway.

THe first time I saw Orman was on a segment where a wife let her husband do all the family finances and he ended up committing suicide and left her with nothing- after previously living an extravagent life the woman had no idea the money ran out. THat is a great case and represents several wives who take a backseat position with family finances. Orman is just trying to get women to be smart and realistic about finances. Many women shop when stressed too so if Orman can convince women to be more logical about money, then that's an ok mission. The way the economy is now, we should be more concerned about the return-on-investment of purchases.

4 year colleges used to be a way to "weed out" the dummies or the ones who couldn't hack it, but now, like every institution, people cheat it and exploit it's main purpose. An employer may see your degree, but how do they know if you were the cheating partier or honestly intelligent.

issues veritas 7 years ago


Thanks for the legal breakdown.

I can see some differences between the US and England in the law schools paths.

The civil and criminal procedure courses are part of the normal curriculum as are the equity, wills and trusts. Outside of some trial practice courses there is no separate path for trial attorneys.

Changing the subject of this hub a little to address the law school worth. Does law school prepare their students to be competent attorneys? I would have to say no. I don't particularly think that the Socratic method that was made famous in teaching law is that worthwhile in understanding how to be a competent lawyer.

As you know, to be competent as an attorney you have to specialize in an area of law. Law, like engineering just has too much information to be a competent Jack of all of them. It is the internship in law and medicine where the real learning is offered. Putting the question another way, could you practice law competently if you were just trained on the job. That is starting with a high school education and working your way up in a law office.

To compare the one the job only with the law school only, what would the caliber of students from both ways of learning the law be at the end of the time it took to graduate law schools? Say a minimum of three years.

This is just my opinion but I think that the on the job student would be far superior to the law school graduate. The on the job learning would be best at a large law firm that has several specialties of law practice.

I think the on the job approach would work for all careers that are non academic in nature. So for teachers, English and History majors etc. the formal education is more of a requirement because it is academia based.

This is part of my broader opinion that college is for learning how to make a living and finding a career. Going to college should be as much fun as going to work. If you can have fun at college and also learn then that is great. But between the two the learning is why you are paying a King's ransom to be there.

Vocational schools are setup for what I consider learning for a career. The problem that others have commented in this hub, is that employers still favor the traditional 4 year degree approach. My comment is that the employer doesn't really know how to select its workers. Human resources in most technical based products still rely on the college credentials even when a candidate has a substantial work experience in field. The work experience should be the deciding factor in their candidate selection. Again, my personal opinion.

If companies could get past the knee jerk of college credentials, then colleges can adapt their degrees to produce a more qualified work candidate.

Thanks again for your feedback.


issues veritas 7 years ago


your comment ---

4 year colleges used to be a way to "weed out" the dummies or the ones who couldn't hack it, but now, like every institution, people cheat it and exploit it's main purpose. An employer may see your degree, but how do they know if you were the cheating partier or honestly intelligent.

good one. :)

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

This interesting hub has spawned a great discussion as well, all credit to you!

The on-the-job part of the training is important, as well. That's what the year-long pupillage is about. You spend the first sixth observing your pupil master or pupil mistress in court, and the second sixth doing small hearing under supervision.

If you don't mind my saying so, there is more detail on this in my "training to be a barrister" hub.

issues veritas 7 years ago


I just skimmed through your hub and it is on my reading list.

First glance, it looks interesting and informative.

I like the pupilage concept.

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

Thanks - glad you don't mind my mentioning it, but it is relevant.

I need to dig out a photo of me plus wig plus gown, to add, I reckon!

izettl profile image

izettl 7 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

issues veritas~ EXACTLY! You speak of law for your example, but pertaining to most any field I can think of- on the job training is far superior to the graduate student. We think of on the job training only for vocational fields/schools- that's too bad. 

I worked in Human resources for a few years and most of my interest being in research psychology, where everything subjective is accounted for or eliminated, it was hard understanding the hiring process- there is no intelligible "process". It is so ridiculous and it's all very subjective, almost like a popularity contest. I participated on hiring committees and it's a joke. Most employers hire somebody they like or looks good on paper.

Employers nowadays almost expect a degree- a 4 year degree is the new high school diploma of 30+ years ago.

London girl- I will check out your hub. Sounds interesting.

Our system is odd that if we don't partake in an internship, which only last a few months anyway, we have to wait until we move onto graduate school to get actual experience- that would be our 5th or 6th year of higher education (above high school).

issues veritas 7 years ago


Wow, it is like you read my mind.

A college degree should be worth something but once someone has experience in a job, that should be the trump card.

In the last thirty years technology has exploded making the traditional subjects in high school lag far behind the real world. What would you think about making the senior year in high school a transition year. for those that would not go to college, offer a technical vocational taster platter. This would expose them to various technical careers. For those going to college, make it a platter of available college studies but focused on the jobs that result from going down that path. For those that don't know what they want to do after high school, the senior year is filling out applications, making resumes, job interviewing etc.

This isn't the dame world of thirty years ago. The transition year would be just that, information to help deciding what you want to do after high school.

How many people have dropped out of college in the first year, how many have changed majors before they graduate and how many of the graduates don't like the job they went to college to get?

At the current college and university tuition you can't afford to gamble on your education.

It is the employers that need to force academia to provide job candidates by providing internships and guidelines for the kinds of educational requirement that will benefit their company. But as you said, the employers don't really have a clue about the hiring process.

It is sort of like when they asked a Supreme Court Justice to define pornography. His answers was something like, I can't define it but I know it when I see it.

Perhaps, employers and educators need a new paradigm to provide a symbiotic relationship between themselves and the students.

I think they a good grade school core has to include the 3 Rs, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. These subjects give you the basic tools to learn the rest of anything else that you need to learn.


Again, these are just my opinions.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

Yes, you need to learn the basics early - and how to learn as well.

izettl profile image

izettl 7 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

issues veritas- Senior year should be a transition year. I remember myself and many other students had class periods when we weren't at school- they were called "early dismissal and late arrival". Total for my senior year, I only needed 3 classes to graduate- this was the case for many other students too. THat leaves 3 hours of "extra time", which would have been better spent on everything you mention above.

I told the school counselor I was undecided about college so they pretty much "forgot" about me and focused more on kids who already knew what they wanted to do. Maybe it's a lack of time or school employees who can help kids decide or become proactive about their future. Probably a lack of what they can do for the undecided. They have no plan for the unplanned I suppose.

I think many things in the school system start going wrong especially at the high school level.  

issues veritas 7 years ago


This is so true and aren't the unplanned or confused students the ones that really need the help. Thanks for the moment of sanity.

Maybe if I wish hard enough, the system might change for the better.


izettl profile image

izettl 7 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

I will also try to wish hard enough for the school systems to begin looking at the bigger picture.

I went to college right after high school and dropped out because I had no career direction. If i had a nickel every time I heard this scenario. What happened to me happens to so many students with potential.

Once I found what interested me, with no help from the school system, I went back to college and graduated with honors. These kids without direction should be the ones getting attention from advisors and enrolling in specific programs created for them. At the very least specific programs would get these students to be proactive about what paths and choices lie ahead of them. Why do the school systems  focus on kids who are already doing well or have direction? ie. Head start and other advanced programs. It's too bad undecided is equivalent to unworthy.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts issues veritas & londongirl

issues veritas 7 years ago

Thank you also izetti

pgrundy 7 years ago

When I was a kid, only rich people went to college. Then, when I was in fourth grade, John F Kennedy started this initiative to make college more widely available to anyone who wanted it. Even with that I had to work hard to get through, but I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

It's different now--so expensive, and student aid is so limited. Loans are very predatory, so kids have to make these tough calls.

I think it's worth it but not if you look at it as job training. Most people will not appreciate a liberal arts education, and we've made it so expensive most can't get one anyway. But if we placed more value on literature, critical thinking, speech, writing, math, and science, and less value on just making a buck, we arguably wouldn't be experiencing the current financial meltdown.

Very thoughtful hub. I do disagree with Ms. Orman, but only insofar as it should never be ONLY about money. If it's only about money, then of course she's dead on. :)

Twin XL 7 years ago

My sister and I both got college degrees, our two younger brothers did not go to college. The brothers make more money (one as a sales rep for a large tool rental company, the other as a supervisor at a manufacturing facility) by at least 20K. I love my job, and so does my sister, we both work Monday through Friday, 9-5. The brothers work weekends and into the evening. Guess it's a tossup.

izettl profile image

izettl 7 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Twin XL~ thanks for comment. you triggered another thought in my mind. You say your sister and you both enjoy your jobs and I say you're lucky because I did not enjoy the professions I went to school for (got my degree in). I thought I would like them, in theory, because most of college is the study of theories in your chosen major. My internship was the last term of college and it wasn't until then that I got hands on experience in the field I'd studied. I realized I didn't like my major, but Oops too late, because most internships aren't offered until the last term in college.

I don't think college is worth it if you can't get hands-on training sooner than the end of your college career. Many students base the their decision of a college major on career tests given to them in h.s.

I propose career bootcamp. Offer students a day or week in the life of their top career choices (following a mentor, etc) , and that might give them a glance at reality, and help them make an informed choice for a major. My thoughts pre-college were I wanted to help people so I went into psychology and human resources. I've dabbled in both career fields and hate them both in practice, but love them in theory. Little good that does me now.

boyjyoti profile image

boyjyoti 6 years ago

This is also the one that belongs to me. I have had Mechanical Engineering at college and now doing something entirely different. There is a trading business and there is this IT business.

College is a must but only for the 9 to 5 types of people who seek jobs only throughout the life.

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

boyjyoti~ you put it perfectly that college is best for the 9-5 types.

Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 6 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

What an excellent hub! I must admit that I have something of an internal struggle with this hub though. The practical side agrees completely that college can't keep functioning the way it does, especially when so many grad students are taking low paying jobs. I heard one grad student for fashion design was 90,000 in debt -- ouch. My husband thinks we should have more of an apprentice system in place and I can't help but agree. The more on the job training, the better.

The impractical side of me enjoys college for the simple sake of being exposed to so many different perspectives and ways of thinking. I'm still enthralled by the fact that I could learn so much while I was there and be exposed to theories and ideas I never would have encountered on my own. Of course, it would be nice if that experience didn't come with as high of a price tag.

Consequently, I don't think having a college degree means getting more money anymore. It just seems as though you end up with more debt. Having played the game of life and done better whenever I didn't go to college, perhaps it's the same in this life? I don't know. But I can't say the impractical part of me is displeased...just thwarted by realism.

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

College is valuable and we both agree it's value is not monetary in most cases. As a society we need to rethink and advertise college differently- more realistically or later down the road we will end up with another widespread economic issue. Great discussion elefanza.

hwipark 6 years ago

i agree things have changed and the benefit and value of college dropped down. people seems to respect and look upto those in entertainment business or have attributes related to entertainment such as sense of humor, being athlete, celebrities,physically attractive, stylish, etc than some peoples with fancy degree. And for money, unless you go all the way in education or have degree in top universities, i don't think it makes much difference. sometimes, it can prevent you from being successful. For example, if you have special talent like great sense of humor and went to average college, you would want to get a average office job because you don't want to just waste college degree. But, if you didn't go to college, you could've been great comedian. During 80's I thought if you do well in school and work hard, you will be successful. but, reality is i think you will be more successful (financially speaking)and gain more respect from others if you have talents like sense of humor, knowing how to talk to others and convince others, being attractive inside and outside, having lots of good connections, etc. Good degree helps, but not as helpful as before. i'm not against going to college. i went to college. Just my personal opinion.

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

hwipark~ I agree with you and you make an even better point about talent versus education. Many of us are told to go to college for something practical, and we waste our talents. most kids' and adults' talents are not nurtured. Sometimes our parents nurture them when we are young, but then comes a time when everybody (parents, teachers, etc) want us to "start thinking about the future".

I really enjoyed your comment. very thought provoking.

CarolineVABC profile image

CarolineVABC 6 years ago from Castaic

I very much agree with you that while attending and finishing college is important, doing internships and marketing oneself is just as powerful, if not a little bit more significant when it comes to having a career. Many college grads these days do not market themselves as well as they should. Of course, having excellent grades and being a well-rounded student is important, but taking internships, working on certificates, recommendations and learning as much as you can all play an important role in landing someone a great career someday. College is a long road, but I think it is still worth it. Mind is a terrible thing to waste and knowledge is something that no one can take away from you. Very impressive hub! Keep at it. God bless!:-)

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

CarolineVABC~ College doesn't gie a person the competitive edge but all the other stuff does. I agree younger generations have a sense of entitelment and will be very disappointed when they have to work at getting work.

Yes, most people don't exercise their brains unless practically forced to so college is good exercise for the brain.

THanks so much for a great comment.

Mike 6 years ago

One thing that doesn't get talked about is the connection between majors and personality types. All the pushy extroverted people I know who did arts degrees have reasonably good jobs in fields like sales. Conversely, introverts who do non-vocational degrees often struggle to find work, because they aren't cut out for service sector work and do poory at networking and job interviews.

Only do a BA if you are smart enough to be a professor or you are paticularly good at selling yourself and being pushy in a highly competitive job market. If you are the modest introverted type its usually best to do something technical, where your practical skills do the talking for you.

If I knew this when I was 18 I never would have done an academic degree.

As far as developing people's intellectual curiosity, there should be voluntary associations where people can go to talk about politics and literature and so on, and perhaps do essays if they really want to prepare for college. People shouldn't have to pay big money for this kind of education.

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Mike~ the best comment I've read on this topic so far. You are right about several points here: introvert vs. extrovert and especially programs to get people together to discover interests and discuss politics and literature. College is like an introduction to the world and it's possibilities.

OpinionDuck profile image

OpinionDuck 6 years ago


The only worth of a college degree is because they are required in most requirement for jobs. It is not because they are that important or even that the studies learned in attaining that college education are even going to be useful in mastering the job. It is something to filter out the masses that would apply for a job.

I have two degrees and over 250 semester units and I would agree with your hub. I did it for the same reason everyone else did it, to get a better job.

Today with the astronomical cost of college, a college degree should be re-evaluated as a job necessity. It is actually the employers that need to change the system to get the type and quality of workers that they need to do the work at their companies.

Traditionally, a college graduate was a ball of general knowledge with a topping of a specialty. The focus on the specialty was very thin, and it was the job experience that would make it thick and special.

Take for instance a law school graduate and compare it with the job requirements of being a lawyer. The law school graduate probably has less than ten percent of the knowledge needed to do that job. The necessary knowledge is built up over the years in the practice of law. The Bar Exam doesn't increase the knowledge of the law school graduate, it jost tests to see if you even have the less than ten percent knowledge of the law that you were taught in law school.

The same is probably true of medical doctors, but at least they have to serve a lengthy on the job internship. That kind of internship would also do well for the law school graduates.

My point is that a formal education is not the equivalent of intelligence or expertise in a job field. Much of what is taught in college could be taught in K through 12.

A lot of my college courses were done while working a full time job. So there were many night classes, and the benefit there were the instructors that actually worked in the field of the subject. This was especially useful in the engineering courses, as it gave real life experience to the subject.

Anyway, great hub.

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

opnion duck~ I agree and thank you for the compliment. Someone mentioned above that there shoud be more hands-on experience within the 4 yr college curriculum. It's a lot mroe book work than actual work. Most students don't get hands-on experience until their graduate program.It all seems silly to me. A lot of it needs to be re-evaluated.

Briton profile image

Briton 6 years ago

As someone else who has finally delved into the schooling debate, I feel young people should be given a greater choice at an earlier age, and should be assesed either as to their physical abilities or studious abilities.

Some will do well out of going through all the schooling and booklearning that you can throw at them, others will do better in more physical and manually dexterous pursuits, and in many ways are more worldly wise and able to fend for themselves and their families.

My own initial education was sorely lacking purely through not seeing any sense to an awful lot of it, I could read from the age of three, I can add, subtract, divide, multiply, work out percentages, calculate time/ distance, fuel burn rates, and work out quite complex load stress and bending moments, all in my head without need of calculators, but only because I see the relevance for these equations in my daily life.

I have quite a comprehensive knowledge of the world and its affairs, I am able to do all this and much more due to me being me, an engineer, its not what I am, its who I am, and I have never gone to college or university.

I left school at 15 and drifted from one dead end job to another until at aged 17 I joined the military forces and they sent me through technical training school, what an eye opener, real machinery and something to make sense of.

A proper vocation at last, one that has endured for over 40 years, 10 in the military and 30 in civilian life, I am a licensed Aircraft Engineer, big jets ( 747s) my skills are many, I believe I will never be without work due to being manually dexterous and reasonably wordly wise.

I can turn my hand to any repair in the home or on my car , and am able through my training to adjust to the changing world around me, I can work in metals, wood, ceramics, you name it I will have ago.

My wife, who is a very talented lady in her own right and I, have brought up three very clever children who all went through college, all had excellent grades and all three went on to university, and all three without any prompting from myself or my wife, or pressure in any direction, dropped out.

All three of them are now in work of their choosing doing well and I have no fear that they will ever be on the employment scrapheap, unfortunately the same can not be said about most of the friends they had at university, most are now on low paid work due to taking qualifications that no one wants.

A bank worker is purely an office dweller, an engineer is far more employably versatile.

Media studies do not repair your plumbing, fix your car, hang new windows, repair roofs, plaster the walls, rewire, provide gas, electricity, fuel, food packaging and storage, transportation, sanitation or clean water.

Like it or not, Engineers rule the world.

Everything you touch, use, and need in this modern world at some stage had an engineers input, and thats why technical qualifications combined with practical hands on experience are a far more desireable commodity than some very intelectual degrees.

Dont get me wrong, Universities are great seats of learning, long may that be so, but not every degree thats issued there is a whole lot of use when it comes down to the basic requirements of employment and survival.

There are Engineering degrees too, I know that, and I have had to take quite a few of these graduates under my wing, (I am nationally qualified technical instructor too) but please can someone not see that the degree without the actual physical working knowledge is just another piece of paper and you still have to come to be retaught what real life is all about.

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Briton~ your comment really says it all. You are right and many students are being raised and pushed into the thinking that only college will help them be successful. College is only for a particular type of person- those who learn from books. There needs to be more hands-on training in the 4 year college experience. I was shocked that I didn't get any hands-on training to get my Bachelors degree. Also, kids pick a major or interest and begin school for it only to find it's not what they thought it was or they don't like it, then they're stuck or you have to pay more money to start all over in another area. Kids need to be exposed to various things in high school too so that they get a feel for what there area of interest is really like. Most kids are "undecided" even when they enter college so this is a waste of money and time.

xxfourthelement profile image

xxfourthelement 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

I would never, ever trade my degree for anything! My experiences as a current college student are invaluable to me through the networking and exploration afforded me as a student.

However, many students I know (I attend a public university) really should be at a technical school, not a university. They force many of the classes to lower their standards, so the higher achievers can't reach full potential while the lower achievers fail.

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

College is for a select group of people- not for everybody. I loved my experience and I did very well in college, but it wasn't worth $50,000 especially in today's job market. People, like myself- perhaps you too, who do well in college are book smart. I've always been able to teach myself from reading out of a book. I don't need a professor to help me do that. I could have taught myself everything I learned in college, but the degree is only worthwhile to employers and like I said before, that's not very helpful currently.

You would do well to stay in college as long as you can while the job market is pitiful. You'll also find that in a few years time, you'll forget everything you learned in college unless you are using it consistently.

earthbound1974 profile image

earthbound1974 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

Yes, izetti. College is really worth it. Right now, after a three year-stint as barangay or county's treasurer in our place here in Philippines, I am bravely trying my luck as call center agent. My confidence is a result of being a college graduate and I want to use those inputs that I've acquired during those years. :D

izettl profile image

izettl 6 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

earthbound194~ Yes, it's true college gives us skills that we my not develop without it. It seems you got a lot out of your experience.

Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 5 years ago from Long Island, NY

I have to agree with you. My own college education only helped me start off with a higher salary on my first job. But then I continued to get increases just by proving myself, not from my prior education. I had to learn new things continuously due to technological obsolescence. Luckily I am good at educating myself, which paid off much more than college as time went on.

izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Glenn Stok~ I find that those who do well in college are good book learners so we could basically teach ourselves, which is what you've said you do for your job. I am the same way and can educate myself, but sometimes the college degree is necessary to get in the door, and from there you're on your own. Thanks for stopping by Glenn.

OpinionDuck profile image

OpinionDuck 5 years ago


I have over 250 college semester units, and two degrees but I agree with you. The time for college degrees has passed, and as you say it is the old timers with their degrees that keep the farce going.


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Opinion Duck~ I have a degree and then some, and my husband got more raises than I ever did. He has no degree and works for the government. I like the advcie about needing a degree if you're going to be a doctor, teacher, or lawyer. Problem is most kids don't know what they really want before they go to college and the planning is inefficient at most colleges.

THanks for the comment.

OpinionDuck profile image

OpinionDuck 5 years ago


I certainly agree with the kid problem of not knowing what they want to do when they grow up, and that planning is not adequate.

I also think that the whole education system needs a rethink and a rebuild. We are basically in the 21st century running off a 19th Century system with some added techology.

My thought is that the purpose of education is to get the best job that you can from it.

Therefore, it should be business that dictates what they need and what they will pay for it. Many companies even in the same business do things differently than each other, and no one does it like you did it when you were in school.

With an appropriate core of subjects in K-12, I don't think that even doctors, lawyers or teachers need a college degree. They can learn on the job with only the foundation from the formal education of core subjects.

Teachers for the most part are just going through the same subjects that they had in K-12.

The companies can build on your knowledge of the core subjects and mold you to handle your job. Sure, it would also take some rethink and rebuild in industry to make this work.

Law is an art and once you can read someone can teach you that art by working in the field under a lawyer. This is not rocket science, it is art and procedures. Coming out of law school you know the grade school version of the practice without knowing the art or the specifics of the law to be practiced. Doctors have an internship which takes them to their art and procedures. They just needed a different core of subjects in K-12.

This would lessen the gap between formal education and the real job.

my opinion.


izettl profile image

izettl 5 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Basic life skills should also be taught. Even how to build business realtionships, being personable, or whatever it takes to succeed in your chosen industry and on-the-job is probably best way to learn those things. I can't believe personal finance is an elective- there certainly should be more emphasis on that, as we can see the whole country struggling economically.

The problem is I grew up thinking I wanted to be a Vet, then my senior year in high school I actually talked to a vet for a project in one of my classes and I changed my mind. Kids choose a field but really don't know what it entails (they only know the glamourized version)until it's too late. Maybe they've already taken courses for that field and they realize they don't like it meanwhile they have to start over on their degree for another field. Most people find out what they want to do while in college- a waste of money. THis should have been taken care of well before they entered college. It was my last day of classes for my minor (business/human resources) and my professor mentioned something about HR being notorious for working a lot of overtime hours- well this didn't suit my lifestyle because I wanted kids, etc. I did work in HR and put in a lot of overtime all the time and I wish I had known more about the field I chose before my last class in college. I don't do that work anymore though.

Kids are not being fully exposed to the jobs they are interested in. It's like professors and teachers build up these areas of study and somewhere, usually too late, reality hits.

You're right because doctors and lawyers really only get to learn anything when they are learning on the job. We can't retain everything they feed us in all the books throughout college. Apprenticeships and on-the-job-learning, longer more in-depth internships. Internships were an elective at my college- should have been mandatory.

Having more access to more narrowed subjects in areas of study would be helpful beginning in high school. The generalness of high school subjects is odd to me and then the first two years of college are all those general requirements all over again- waste of time.

Thanks for the discussion- it's just so frustrating to me. You make some great points right in line with what I'm thinking.

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