ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Is the College Degree Obsolete?

Updated on April 30, 2013

Who needs a Sheepskin?

I am starting to wonder if college is becoming obsolete for a lot of people. I realize that in the past it has paid off for a lot of people, but I am starting to notice a large schism in jobs. Now I realize that a lot of what I am going to say is anecdotal evidence, but I still think that a major transformation of the economy is coming our way.

Now if I were to just look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics I would see something like this:

Amount of Education - Median Weekly Earnings - Unemployment Rate

  • doctoral degree $1,532 2.5%
  • professional degree $1,529 2.3%
  • master’s degree $1,257 3.9%
  • bachelor’s degree $1,025 5.2%
  • associate degree $761 6.8%
  • college dropout $699 8.6%
  • high school grad $626 9.7%
  • high school dropout $454 14.6%

First of all, I find these numbers highly suspicious. A person with an associate's degree is listed as at about a 6.8% unemployment rate. If the average career length is around 40 years, then that comes out to 2.72 years that this person would be unemployed during his career. Even if his career length is 50 years, that still is only 3.4 years of unemployment. But it seems that every college graduate I know has spent a significant portion of their life unemployed. I know the government is deceptive about the real unemployment rate. If I use the numbers from it seems to be a lot closer to my observations on unemployed friends.

But there is something even worse than this going on and this is what I am seeing. It is the schism between government workers and private workers. Government workers seem to be pulling in huge salaries these days with strong job security. When they do lose a job, they can easily find another government job. Every single one of my friends and family that have gotten into government work are currently employed. My friends and family not in government are almost universally unemployed or working at below minimum wages. The first exception is my brother who works on a server farm and he doesn't have a college degree. The other exceptions are my friends who are self-employed. Those numbers from the Bureau of Labor do not show that schism.

This brings me to my main point. Unless you are planning to go into government work (and you will need a squeaky clean life for this) or you need a medical degree, I think most people should avoid college. Work at a minimum wage job for a couple years, save up a couple grand or so and start a business of some sort. If you are capable of making it through college, then you are certainly capable of starting some kind of self-employed business.

Grow Your Own Job

What kind of business should you start? You might think I would suggest some kind of internet business, but you would be wrong. I find it a hundred times harder to make a buck on the internet than I do at a so called bricks and mortar business. I spent years designing and programming video games with only a pittance to show for it (earning about $1500 with over 5000 hours labor). I have done a few other projects and they earned even less per hour. As for my blogging, I am mainly doing this for practice. I don't expect to earn any real money from it, but I do consider it educational. Besides, sometimes there is a serendipitous result when we just do something!

Okay, back to brick and mortar businesses. In July of 2007, I started a used computer store with $3000. I opened the doors at 9 AM and closed the doors at 9 PM and I did that seven days a week for the first six months. I spent several hours every morning advertising on craigslist and sometimes a few hours in the afternoon. I slept in the back of the store to save every penny I could. Any time I sold a computer, I bought another one, fixed it up, and resold it. The first few months I survived mainly off my sales of refurbished computers. I had just a couple of repairs. Word of mouth started to spread about my store and about every two months my repair business doubled. In August of 2008, I repaired over a hundred computers. I charged an average fee of $100 per computer which would usually take me 1-2 hours each. I pulled in over $10,000 that month and spent about $1000 on overhead. That is a $9000 profit I was making per month. Yes, I was still working over 80 hours a week, but I found that 80 hours to be less stressful than working for somebody. I had to sell the store two months later due to personal issues (the store was running great and I loved it!) but the learning experience was absolutely phenomenal and the amount of money I made was beyond anything that I had ever expected.

This bout of entrepreneuralism opened up my eyes to other brick and mortar businesses. For instance, I started noticing the amount of time people spend in convenience stores and how much money they spend while there. I could probably make just as much money running a convenience store as I did running the computer store. I have one friend who is doing yard work and his only advertisement is word of mouth and craigslist. He is charging $25 per hour (cash only) and has so much business that he hired someone on a cash basis of $10 per hour to help him. This is a $15/hour profit, so he is now making around $40 per hour. Remember, you would have to make $50-$55 per hour to match this if you were working a job that required paying taxes. My friend spent almost two years looking for a minimum wage job without any luck before he started doing this. And he is a high school dropout.

This is the new economy. If you want to earn a decent wage, you are probably going to have to work for yourself. And if you work for yourself, then college is probably useless. BTW, I am not saying you should be ignorant. Knowledge and logic reasoning is important. In fact, in our economy, it is knowledge that is the power to acquire wealth. I totally believe in education, but you can educate yourself for almost free these days thanks to the internet.


Submit a Comment

  • erinshelby profile image


    5 years ago from United States

    This is interesting because a lot of America's 2012 college grads are accepting positions that only require a high school diploma. In my hub "Reasons to Volunteer When You Have No Job", I have a link to the Huffington Post that talks about this.

  • Pente profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Planet Earth

    This was one of my earlier hubs and my main goal with it was to get people to think about the role of education in their life. Requiring a degree to work as a cook shows some of the silliness of the system. We should do away with the minimum wage and go back to apprenticeship for a job like that. I think we have gone down the formal education road too far. The relationship between education and working is completely out of whack. It is time for society to head in a different direction in this regard.

  • profile image

    Fay Paxton 

    7 years ago

    Pente, I almost share your philosophy. I agree that we are rapidly reaching a point where the cost of education far outweighs the financial reward. A degree is no longer a guarantee of good or steady employment. I don't however believe the degree is obsolete...just the opposite. Pretty soon they'll require a degree for a short-order cook.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)