Sure, you've got your college degree, but was it worth it?

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  1. professorjeff profile image61
    professorjeffposted 11 years ago

    There's a lot of talk about education. Get a college degree and you've saved the day. It's the end-all and cure-all. A formal education is critical to your sustained achievement. But is the bachelor's so super, man? Not a lot of surveys going out to grads asking critical questions about degree satisfaction, are there? We hear so little about what happens after the degree. What's the payoff? The ROI? How satisfied are you with your college degree? Was it worth all that time and money? Could you have done just as well or better without it? Have you? How much of it have you used on the job? in life? What say ye, fellow grads? And what about those of you without degrees? How goes it?

    1. Cody Hodge profile image59
      Cody Hodgeposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      To be brutally honest, if I could do it all over again I'd avoid college like the plague. Everything I have learned about my profession I have learned through actually doing it. My writing style, research style and improvements with grammar have all come through trial and error over the past several years.

      When I have kids, I'm seriously thinking about saving for a down payment on their first home. They can rent it to generate the steady income that they will need to pay for college.

      I'm still in my 20's, so maybe my worldview is still incomplete, but my experience has taught me that living within your means while gaining experience on the job is the easiest way to achieve financial and job security.

      If you want to learn about a place, go live there. If you want to read more about a subject, go check out a book. If you want to listen to an expert, go to a lecture. You don't need college to continue your education.

      1. professorjeff profile image61
        professorjeffposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Cody, lacking life experience has certainly NOT made you wrong. You're hitting on all cylinders. Totally agree with everything you're saying. Most will say that they've learned 90% or more on the job. Today the college degree, more than ever before, is admittedly merely a ticket into the workforce. Many working at colleges / universities will tell you so, if they're honest.

        In addition, buying a home and renting for income is a solution to sitting in college for 4 years simply building debt, especially with the cost of college up 25% in last 5 years. I often wonder why people attempt to fix the unfixable, or that which would just take way too much time to fix, and don't seek alternative solutions. Again, I couldn't agree with you more.

    2. DON BALDERAS profile image67
      DON BALDERASposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      From what I have become because of the bachelor's degree that I finished, I know I have been blessed because it has been giving me many opportunities to grow especially my work now is very much aligned with it. It will be harder to venture into another field different from the formal preparation I had in college. My initial taste of government service as an information writer in the provincial government had nothing to do with my college degree, but had connection with the background I had in my high school and college campus journalism activities. Both my education and involvement in campus journalism had helped me grow to what I have become as a professional. But there are different stories for those who have not finished any degree at all.

  2. psycheskinner profile image81
    psycheskinnerposted 11 years ago

    I don't think anyone says everyone needs a degree, but I am very glad i did. I love my job and the degree was necessary both to get it and know how to do it.

    1. professorjeff profile image61
      professorjeffposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Our president said just that. And there are many who say it. Just ask those in the system: all primary, secondary, and college teachers. But it certainly isn't necessary. The two most successful people I know are a high school drop out--eight grade!-- and a guy who graduated college, just barely. He actually breaks out in a cold sweat when around books. ;o)

  3. psycheskinner profile image81
    psycheskinnerposted 11 years ago

    Do you have a link?  As i recall he wanted the US to lead the world in proportion of graduates to support a knowledge- (rather than manual labor-) based economy.  Which isn't quite the same thing.  Some people will still need to do trade or picked crops etc where a degree is an unnecessary expense..

  4. relache profile image72
    relacheposted 11 years ago

    As someone who learned to learn and to write well enough in college that I can make my living by writing on HubPages and Squidoo, yes I feel my higher education was and is worth it.

  5. Hollie Thomas profile image60
    Hollie Thomasposted 11 years ago

    I keep telling my daughter to study whatever she's interested in, not just for a job but for the education itself. Is it worth it? Definitely, even if you don't end up with the job you'd like at least you are educated enough to broaden your horizons beyond the parameters you'd set for yourself. It's not just about the money.

    1. professorjeff profile image61
      professorjeffposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Hollie, that is the key, really. If they do simply what parents, peers, society influences, they're heading downs a slippery slope. Same issue if going just where the jobs, money, or prestige is. Research shows that intrinsic motivation, doing what's you love, not extrinsic is the key to greatest success.

      1. Hollie Thomas profile image60
        Hollie Thomasposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Absolutely. At the end of the day, you can wait tables for a living, or you can wait tables during your education. There's nothing wrong with waiting tables, but why not come out of it with an education, too. One way or another, education will set you up for life.

  6. agilitymach profile image91
    agilitymachposted 11 years ago

    I wouldn't trade my education for any money.  It's not that it's provided me with a huge income.  It's that it's provided me with knowledge.  Education has made a "renaissance woman" out of me.  I am well rounded enough to be an integral part of any topic of discussion.  I can follow lines of thought and debate and can even participate in them.  My education has, in short, made me both a lifetime learner and lifetime teacher in the world of knowledge.

    It's not what education has gained me tangibly.  It's what it has gained me intangibly.

    1. Appletreedeals profile image67
      Appletreedealsposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      a most excellent point. I do believe that a college education may not be the right choice for everyone, but I also think the personal gratification of a commitment met, and the life direction influenced by a degree is invaluable to the person - if not their financial status.


  7. Shadesbreath profile image82
    Shadesbreathposted 11 years ago

    The value in a degree is not the degree, despite how useful having one can be for getting a job. People without degrees can get jobs if they can somehow acquire equivalent experience. (Sometimes.)

    The value of a degree is exactly proportional to how much you put into it. And it's only marginally related to the major. The point is to learn how to think. To learn that there are other disciplines in the world, and get a taste of a few, to create both confidence and humility.

    You're supposed to master critical reading skills, critical writing skills, the ability to parse information and convey ideas. To break apart arguments and think.

    That is the value of an education. Yes, that sort of thing can be acquired without going to college. I even, on rare occasions, meet people who have an instinctive grasp of reason and critical thought. Not often, but I do. I also meet lots of college grads who have no ability to do any of that either, so, if you are going to get the "piece of paper" there is an excellent chance you are wasting your money.

    1. Cody Hodge profile image59
      Cody Hodgeposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      I guess I went to the wrong school then. All I learned was that you did well if the professor liked you. Otherwise, you were doomed to nothing more than a C.

      I would also submit that critical thinking is also the result of life experience. In college, you tend to learn how to think like your professors. Not good.

      1. Shadesbreath profile image82
        Shadesbreathposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Yes, you definitely went to the wrong school. While there are definitely those professors who are tiny-minded, usually liberal to the extreme in my experience, and completely subsumed by the quasi-reality of academia to the exclusion of grasping real world versus hypothetical in any reasonable way, for the most part over the course of two degrees, I found that 85% or more (that's a made up stat, but it feels about right) were more inclined to favor hard work from students over the mindless parroting the professors political agenda.

        I think it's easy for college drop outs to make the excuse that the profs were trying to push agendas based on the existence of those few who do, because, ironically, most students who drop out are simply not disciplined enough or experienced enough to understand that the reason they are being asked to "do it the professor's way" is because the professor is trying to shape a set of ideas in their head that they don't have yet. Until you can fully and completely grasp a concept in its entirety, you're not really in a position to call it B.S. But lots of young people think they know it all already, so, from their tiny world-view, the teachers are trying to force-feed them ideas.

        I think way too many kids go to college too young and immature to appreciate why they are there. I suspect that might have been the case for you. Or, of course, you could have just gone to a freakishly bad college. I have no way of knowing. My sympathies if you happen to have been one of the rare few who actually had that happen.

        1. professorjeff profile image61
          professorjeffposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          My push is for a 21st century education. Theory in a vacuum never was life. I advocate real-world principles, attitudes, skills be a part of education, for most grads--even those of prestigious colleges / universities--are woefully short of what's needed in the real world. I estimate 80% short. I've worked as a musician, computer programmer, standup comic, educator, entrepreneur, gaining real skills, knowledge, and attitudes that are critical to achievement in career and life. What America is, is innovation. The best ideas come from free markets, the private sector. Once one-size-fits-all govt. and privileged academics get involved, the individual student gets pushed out for profit and personal gain. My idea is to make education as fully individual based as possible. Along with being totally honest and transparent about education (k-college) what students are really getting (or mostly NOT getting), helping them gain greatest access to individual talents, abilities, skills, learning styles, intelligent types, etc. so that they become fully empowered are key. to not only achievement but personal contentment in today's quickly changing world markets. Education MUST be more modular, adaptive, and student centered for it to be of any help now and into the future.

      2. professorjeff profile image61
        professorjeffposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Cody, so true. I've had many refugees come into my classes sighting the same thing. The best place to learn is through the school of hard knocks. You can't take book theory and perfect it, or even come close to doing so, without 'doing.' So do! Peace!

        1. Shadesbreath profile image82
          Shadesbreathposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and there it is. This post and the last one give you away. From here, or at some point, you're going to direct people to your awesome "make a living with real estate" seminar or some equally inane "life solution,." I thought I smelled snake oil when I came into this thread.

          Bleh. What a waste of time.

          1. Cody Hodge profile image59
            Cody Hodgeposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            I don't think either Jeff nor I were suggesting anything of the sort.

            Do the research yourself. There are MANY legitimate ways to make money through real estate without anyone having to steer you to anything.


            The point of saving for a home instead instead of college is simply that they cost the same amount but at least one option actually guarantees that you can make money. From there, you have money to pay for college. When you realize that there are no jobs out there, at least you won't go bankrupt from the loans that you have absolutely no recourse against if you cannot pay them.

            1. professorjeff profile image61
              professorjeffposted 11 years agoin reply to this

              Thanks Cody. You're right. I'm just into creative alternatives, and this happens to be one, one that I've heard of and see as valid. I don't have any seminars lined up that I know of. lol But with college costs being so high, students now come out of college with an average of $35,000 in debt, and if you add interest over time that could double or more. Depending on your major and school, some students come out with 60, 80, 100,000 or more in debt. I know of two lawyers who got married and owed over $200,000. They tried getting second jobs but even that didn't help. They ended up getting divorced because the tax bracket and lack of breaks being married was killing them. THAT's what I'm talking about when advocating creative, alternative ways of financing college. Once again, well said Cody.

          2. professorjeff profile image61
            professorjeffposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            Shadwesbreath. Don't close that mind off just yet. lol No, I'm not offering any seminars, just advice, thanks. Take care.

    2. professorjeff profile image61
      professorjeffposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Agilitymach and Shadesbreath, I think you're saying similar things using different vehicles. It's about learning and learning isn't guaranteed to take place in college. There is a way to get grades and then do a core dump of everything you've learned short-term. I see it all the time. I've met high school dropouts smarter than some people I know with advanced degrees. And if people think an education is the key, meaning 16 years of formal education, that's a fallacy, especially today. More than ever before people need to know how to think critically, creatively, intuitively, how to self-educate, make connections between often differing even opposing ideas. For life is a growth, it is not stagnant. We must learn throughout life. Formal education is generally just a simple priming of the pump. We must continue to obtain knowledge, but also wisdom, skills, and attitudes. A good thing to do for all is to sit down and determine what exactly it is that you need as an individual, for education cannot be the same for all, for we are all different, snowflakes making our way through life. Peace!

      1. Shadesbreath profile image82
        Shadesbreathposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Yeah, you can't just sit in a classroom stoned out of your head with your iPod in while you text your girlfriend and expect to get much out of college. "Cram" sessions with cliff notes and cheat sheets are not the same as attempting to find some sort of mastery over the material.

      2. tussin profile image58
        tussinposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        You're living in an idealized dreamworld.  If you want to be a doctor, engineer, scientist who discovers new drugs, lawyer, or PROFESSOR, then you absolutely must get a college education in this world.  Maybe hundreds of years ago you could learn these trades by apprenticeship alone, but not today. 

        Nobody is arguing against your premise that a college education is optional for some career paths. You don't need a BS in chemistry to be Snooki, that's for sure.  I find this who conversation a bit odd coming from someone whose name is professor.  But peace to you too my fellow dude.

        1. professorjeff profile image61
          professorjeffposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          Tussin, an obvious given, for sure. There are some professions that certainly needs extensive schooling and training, doctor, engineer, etc. But the majority, upwards of 80 to 90% don't go there. So what I am speaking to is the majority or those who don't go into high-end fields. I hope we have now awoken from the dreamworld and are dancing in reality. And peace to you, my mighty dude.

  8. Xenonlit profile image60
    Xenonlitposted 11 years ago

    I feel sick for the latest generation who can't get into college. I had to struggle hard to work and get through college, but it was worth every penny and every day.

    The discipline of thought, independent work ethic, ability to do my own research, ability to think critically and body of knowledge have paid off many times over.

  9. quicksand profile image82
    quicksandposted 11 years ago

    A college degree or a job catalyst? As a kid I used to ask my father why uncle so-and-so majored in history and joined the police force! More often it's a question of passing a memory test and qualifying for a job that hardly requires application of the "knowledge" that has been acquired by following that particular degree course. With so many forms of deceptive academics around catering to different levels of ability, I agree with the idea that Tussin is conveying, Be a doctor, scientist, linguist, specialize in computer applications ... These qualifications require application of the knowledge that has been acquired and also calls for innovation often. This is the real stuff.

    Indeed a great topic to discuss!

    Peace!   smile smile smile


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