ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Does One Really Need a College Degree?

Updated on August 19, 2013
Aerial view above Harvard's central campus
Aerial view above Harvard's central campus | Source

Is too much emphasis placed on obtaining a college degree in the United States of 2012?

Absolutely not!

Let’s first turn back the clock to see why. My father graduated with just a high school degree in 1935. As a hard-working and relatively intelligent, common-sensical white man entering the work force, he was always able to find and keep a decent job. Throughout his working life, he actually undertook four distinctly separate occupations or trades. The most sophisticated of those trades made use of relatively specialized electrical and welding equipment, which he was able to learn how to handle, and, in time, become quite adept with.

Famed Harvard Yard
Famed Harvard Yard | Source

Jump forward now almost 8 decades to 2012. In our drastically accelerated (and accelerating) world of change, a young man or woman exiting high school today is likely to make a half dozen or more career changes throughout the remainder of his or her working life. In addition, many jobs and careers make use of far more pervasive technology of greater complexity than existed in America in the 1930s through 1960s. Computers are ubiquitous. The skills required to work even the cash register (or transaction terminal, to be more exact) at a fast food restaurant can be a bit intimidating, let alone those required to work at a financial institution or on a survey crew.

Holden Chapel, Harvard University
Holden Chapel, Harvard University | Source

Don’t get me wrong: the world will always need farmers and truck drivers and maids and busboys. But over time there may tend to be fewer of them, and those that remain in or enter those fields will have to have greater skills than their forebears.

And let’s not lose sight of urbanization, globalization and competitive free-market forces. As the world’s population shifts ever more into heavily urbanized areas, every resident begins to acquire the minimal skills necessary to survive in a city, whether those skill include driving a car, understanding a mortgage, or deciphering a subway map. Once city newcomers see the limited pathways to riches and security, they begin to invest in the education necessary to compete with their neighbors. Increasingly, citizens of one country (i.e. China or Singapore or Brazil) start cannibalizing the better-paying and more rewarding jobs of another country (i.e. the U.S., Great Britain, France). Competitive free-market forces guarantee that the high school graduate from Ottumwa, Iowa may eventually be challenging a college graduate from Mumbai, India for the same tech job.

Memorial Hall, Harvard University
Memorial Hall, Harvard University | Source

The fact that high school graduates of the United States often lag far behind their counterparts from accelerating world societies elsewhere about the globe — particularly in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math — suggest that college degrees are worth aspiring to. Furthermore, there is nothing elitist or snobbish about wishing the greatest life success and self-actualization on all our children.

Finally, a college degree may be any number of things. It may be a Ph.D. from a prestigious Biomedical Engineering program. Or it may be a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from a rural four-year university. Or it may be an Associate’s Degree in Carpentry from a two-year city college.

But no matter what the college degree, or the meaningful education that precedes it, it will likely prove ever more essential to having the fulfilling and comfortable life of the future.

Widener Library, Harvard Yard
Widener Library, Harvard Yard | Source

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • rickzimmerman profile imageAUTHOR

      rickzimmerman 

      6 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      I agree with all you've added. We all need to work towards college education being more affordable to all, and having it relevant enough to our changing society that it affords transition into fruitful careers.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 

      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      I'm thinking it's a trend that can't be reversed due to the complications of an increasingly technical world we live in. The trend is, the better the education, the better the job. That doesn't mean that college is for everyone. For one thing, it's enormously expensive; for another, there are only a few fields to choose from that have enhanced employment opportunities right upon graduation.

    • rickzimmerman profile imageAUTHOR

      rickzimmerman 

      6 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Skarlet: thanks much! It's great to have such an appreciative fan. Here's hoping I never let you down.

    • rickzimmerman profile imageAUTHOR

      rickzimmerman 

      6 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      krosch: You are right in saying that one should think about their future and see how a degree — any kind or level of degree — might help.

    • Skarlet profile image

      Skarlet 

      6 years ago from California

      You are great. I love your hubs.

    • krosch profile image

      krosch 

      6 years ago

      I don't agree with your opinion on Americans lagging behind the rest of the world in advanced training in things like sciences. What exactly do you base that opinion on?

      Also I think college degrees are very useful and are wonderful for the people who want to get them. But this push that everyone even though that want an entry level job sweeping at a corporate office should have a college degree is costing this nation a lot of resources and leaving us with lots of unemployed English and Art majors while despite massively high unemployment, we still don't have enough long haul truck drivers.

      A college degree isn't the answer for everyone perhaps and some planning should be done in college as to what they might want to do with their life and how their degree may or may not fit into that goal.

      I think maybe people may wish they had taken an 8 week truck driving course for a few thousand dollars for a steady paycheck right now rather than getting an arts education degree and working in a warehouse not being able to find a teaching job like a good friend of mine has been doing for the last 5 years.

      Now if he had gotten a chemistry degree or another more marketable degree like he ponders now in hindsight perhaps things could be very different.

      As a final thought those degrees can be great and I don't want to tell people not to do it. Simply think about your future and how the degree may or may not work into what you want to do.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com 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: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    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 googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    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)
    Marketing
    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.
    Statistics
    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)