What if College Isn’t Your Calling?


S. Thompson

Student examines college choices in College and Career Center

Rae Smith, Staff Writer

As college prices rise faster than the salaries that students are able to pursue, many are left wondering if college is even worth it anymore.

Indeed, it seems there are a plethora of jobs out there that only require a high school diploma and pay upwards of $40,000 per year – which is already less than the median annual salary of two-year college graduates during their first few years in the workforce. It’s also worth noting that while college students are paying for tuition and books and housing, their peers who went straight into a job after high school are already making money that college students are losing.

However, that doesn’t mean that college is useless. Although it may take years for the benefits of a higher education to finally pay off, the rewards can be worth the wait. While jobs that don’t require a degree generally have their annual salaries plateau around $50,000, college graduates tend to make upwards of $60,000 per year, and depending on the field, may even make $100,000 or more annually.

Jobs that require degrees also tend to take place in a “white-collar” environment, and are much easier to continue well into a person’s later stages of life, as they usually don’t require physical labor. With the rising retirement age projected to be in the mid-seventies by 2060, a non-strenuous job becomes a priority that needs to be considered before it’s too late. Furthermore, jobs that require a degree are often in high demand, leading to raises and more job opportunities in the future, as opposed to jobs that could employ any high school graduate in place of others, which leads to higher lay-off rates and less a stable income.

The immediate benefits of going straight to work may be appealing, and are by no means less honorable than pursuing higher education, but in the end, a college education is almost a necessity in the growing world. Like anything else in life, it’s a risky business if the resources aren’t there to support a student through the inevitable ocean of debt that comes with a college diploma.

The main takeaway is, if college is an option, go for it. If it isn’t, that’s okay too. Either way, hard work and a good attitude can get a person through almost anything.