Are College Degrees Necessary?

Are College Degrees Necessary?

Work hard in high school. Go to college. Get a degree. Land a solid job. Right? Maybe not. According to The New York Times, there are plenty of jobs available that don’t require college degrees. And many who start college will never finish: perhaps no more than half of those who began a four-year bachelor’s degree program in the fall of 2006 will get that degree within six years, according to the latest projections from the Department of Education. (The figures don’t include transfer students, who aren’t tracked.)

For college students who ranked among the bottom quarter of their high school classes, the numbers are almost shocking: 80 percent will probably never get a bachelor’s degree or even a two-year associate’s degree.

Why are we pushing everyone to go to college, especially when many won’t finish? It’s a lot of wasted tuition dollars. A small but influential group of economists and educators is suggesting that we need a Plan B, since college just isn’t for everyone.

“It is true that we need more nanosurgeons than we did 10 to 15 years ago,” said Professor Vedder, founder of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a research nonprofit in Washington. “But the numbers are still relatively small compared to the numbers of nurses’ aides we’re going to need. We will need hundreds of thousands of them over the next decade.” And much of their training, he added, might be done outside of a traditional collegiate setting.

Among the thirty fastest growing jobs, only seven require college degrees. And in the top 10, only two: accounting and postsecondary teachers. We’ll need many more registered nurses, home health aides, customer service representatives and store clerks – none of which require college degrees.

What do you think? Is skipping college a practical way to go? Or will people pigeonhole themselves and prevent themselves from moving upward and landing higher positions and salaries?

Photo: SweetiesBlog