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Why A College Degree Is Becoming Less Important

Updated on March 17, 2017
Colin Wattonville profile image

Colin Wattonville is a business student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, with a background in marketing, entrepreneurship, & finance.

Is a college education really worth it?

Despite what students are being told, college degrees are not more important for my generation than they were for the previous generation. They are actually less important. That's right. We actually do not need a college degree in order to "compete with workers from around the globe" or any of the other clichés that have been repeatedly jammed into our head. I wanted to preface this article by stating that I am NOT saying education isn't important, but exactly the opposite. I believe that continuous learning is essential in today's world and that we should always keep expanding our knowledge. This is why one of my new year's resolutions this year was to read a book a month. Although I have a long way to go before I am reading a book a day, this is still opening my mind and helping me learn more.

While an education with some general background knowledge is good, and even partially necessary, most of the general education classes in college that I found myself taking were not interesting to me and even more importantly, not relevant to what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Although I began college knowing that I wanted to pursue a career in business, I found myself sitting in classes such as Geology and Introduction to Native American Studies.

Now I am in no way trying to demean these courses, and granted I did learn things (I now can give you the name of a rock if you were to pick one up and ask me); however, I did not learn things that I could use later on in life or even things that I was interested in learning about in the first place. It is for reasons such as these that one of the fastest growing questions among students in school everywhere is becoming, "When will I ever use this in real life?" More students are failing classes than ever before and more kids are being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) than any other time in history. While surely part of the reason can be attributed to the myriad of distractions technology has brought along with it, another huge contributor to the diagnosis is certainly due to a lack of interest, a lack of passion regarding what students are learning. If students began focussing on subjects that they are truly passionate about before their junior year in college--about the time gen ed classes are completed--not only would they be more happy, but also more successful.

Say for example I was able to start taking classes about finance and the stock market all the way back in my freshman year of high school (six years ago). If I had read just one specific book on finance, I would've had at least $1200 more than I do today. If we change the way students start learning as early as high school, there would be less of a need to go onto a typical four-year college to earn a degree. But how will students learn then?

One of the fastest growing industries in the world is e-learning, currently worth over $100 billion. Online seminars (webinars). Tutors that teach via FaceTime or Skype. Online conferences. Free courses from top universities. Paid courses from experts in any field of study you can think of. Students can learn more information at a faster rate than spending four years in a classroom.

In addition to e-learning, students can also access many of these learning methods in real life: workshops, tutors, conferences, seminars, internships, etc. These are all examples of "alternative learning" as I like to say. It is becoming more important to learn by doing. Plus, as I mentioned above, books can be a phenomenal way of learning more information that you find relevant to your life.

E-learning, alternative learning, and books are all very adequate methods of learning information that will help you get ahead in life and your career. If students were able to start specializing in fields of study that they were passionate about at an earlier age, they could have more knowledge in their specialized area than someone with a degree in the same field. These students would also save thousands of dollars in tuition expenses. On top of this, these "nontraditional" students would also probably have more free time, which could be used to further educate themselves or go out and experience more of the world than a typical person their age. Educating yourself without college is very possible.

Does a college degree still seem appealing?

What method of learning do you think is best for students?

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© 2016 Colin Wattonville

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      Alyssa 14 months ago

      Something to think about when considering the future of education.