The job market has changed considerably over the last twenty years. As a result, many skills that were once indispensable have become obsolete and have been replaced by new skills — especially those associated with technological advancements.
Additionally, we see new or modified career trajectories across a wide range of industries. So changing jobs and even changing careers is no longer the exception but the norm.
Considering all these changes in the job market, is it still necessary to go to college to be successful in 2022?
Ultimately, it depends. College degrees are required to enter some industries. However, they can be extremely cost-prohibitive. Not to mention, a university education isn’t a requirement in many industries anyways, as proven by the availability of great-paying jobs that don’t require higher education.
In this article, we’ll look at some reasons why you may or may not want to pursue a college degree.
Do You Have to Go to College?
No, you don’t have to go to college. The list of hyper-successful people who didn’t get college degrees is long and includes powerful names like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson.
Instead of having simply graduated from a college or university, some of the biggest similarities shared among successful individuals are soft skills like:
- a strong work ethic
- creative thinking
- the ability to inspire and motivate others
Is College Worth It?
The value of college depends on your career goals. For example, some jobs in medicine and law still require a college degree. However, many other rewarding positions don’t require a college degree. Here are several examples of industries you can get into without attending college:
- Real estate
- Law enforcement
- Automotive repair and maintenance
- Air travel (pilots, mechanics, and flight attendants)
College provides excellent opportunities for networking, and more options are available to someone with a college degree as opposed to someone without one. Plus the degree will look good in the education section of your resume.
But in the US, getting a college degree is expensive. Determining whether it’s worth paying for college depends on your goals and priorities.
3 Reasons You May Not Want to Attend College
Not long ago, young students finishing high school were generally under societal pressure to attend a university and get a degree that would lead to a stable career. Today, that pressure may still exist, but it does so to a far lesser extent. In 2022, other viable paths are available to the next generation of professionals.
Depending on your own priorities and goals, you may choose not to attend college. And here are three of the most common reasons why:
Reason #1: Debt
Tuition is expensive, and the amount of time a student needs to spend on their studies keeps them from getting a full-time job. For those who don’t have parents willing or able to finance their studies, the most common solution is to take out student loans.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average debt that new graduates hold is $25,921. It often takes decades to pay off a loan of that size, especially for someone who’s just entering the workforce.
Reason #2: Entrepreneurial Ambitions
The number of people who are building their own successful businesses continues to grow.
Thanks to digital technology, many new businesses and start-ups require little to no initial capital. And ventures that do require significant capital to get off the ground can often find help from investment funds looking for new start-ups to invest in.
Now is an exciting time for hard-working, adventurous people with the vision to create their own companies. If such people go to college instead of pursuing their entrepreneurial vision, they’ll have to put those dreams on hold, possibly missing out on opportunities for success.
Reason #3: No Clear Career Plan
You may like the prospect of going to college — being surrounded by people your age, and exploring subjects that you’re curious about. However, if you have no idea what exactly you’re going to study, you may want to reconsider this path.
One of the risks of studying for a four-year degree is that you probably won’t end up working a job related to your degree. In fact, research suggests that only about 27 percent of people work in the field they obtained a degree in.
Many people will opt to go directly into the labor market after high school, and often these people find a field they want to dedicate their career to. And they generally find other paths toward advancing in that field — paths that don’t require a college degree, such as vocational schools and other college alternatives.
The Bottom Line
There are many good reasons why getting a college degree may be the right move for you. Going to college can:
- give you more work options
- be a fun time when you gain life experience and make life-long friends
- help you build a social and professional network
However, there are also several valid reasons why you may not want to go to college. Higher education is expensive, takes a lot of time, and doesn’t always lead to a fulfilling career.
Notably, there’s an ever-growing list of fields that don’t require a college degree. Plus, there’s no reason you can’t change your mind and go to college once you have a clearer idea of what exactly you want to study.
If you decide to jump straight into the workforce instead of attending college, learn how to write a functional resume that emphasizes your job-relevant skills. And don’t forget to expand on your resume with a well-written cover letter.