For many decades, college degrees were deemed an absolute must for starting a successful career and getting well-paid jobs. Not anymore. In today’s fast-changing and technology-driven world, students think hard about the value of spending four long years in college.
Unsurprisingly, more than 1 million students drop out of college in the United States each year.
Alternatives to formal education and degrees now exist to start working earlier, looking for an array of on-the-job training opportunities to combine the learning and career goals. It is no longer as linear a process as it used to be.
So, why is that? What kind of alternatives have emerged that might provide easier or quicker paths to success? Let’s take a look at some of the key ones.
Colleges give education but not necessarily skills
There is a reason many students quit college. The labor market is changing and evolving as fast as ever before. The range of required skill sets is changing accordingly. College programs do not always keep pace with new demands. It is often more practical and efficient to meet the job-related training needs while working. Hands-on experience is becoming more valuable than academic credentials.
Many employers and recruiters are paying less attention to academic qualifications, opting for interviews to assess individual skills, capacity to adapt, and the level of emotional intelligence instead.
College education takes too long
We know time is relative. Four years in the seventies of the previous century and four years now are not necessarily the same length in terms of the impact of college degrees on one’s professional career. Many students are afraid that as they keep their noses to the grindstone, they are likely to be overtaken by those who opt for work instead. So, the opportunity cost is too high to bear.
College education can also be burdensome. That’s why many students turn to online writing companies providing ‘write my research paper for me’ kind of services. They help them complete assignments timely, in accordance with the highest academic standards, and at affordable costs.
College degrees are too expensive to justify the cost
College degrees have never been cheap. Tuition fees and living expenses are not either. The assumption used to be that students could recuperate the costs incurred by getting a well-paid job later. That was the rationale for introducing student loans too. But it does not work the same way for all anymore. Those who start careers early end up earning more.
Self-education and online resources
Students don’t need to spend long hours in college libraries to find and read the required literature. With the advent of the internet, access to information is not an issue. Most books are accessible online. This also means that if you are well-disciplined and persistent, you can learn a lot through online resources with some limited tutor guidance.
New career paths
Many jobs need no college degree to get. You can also be self-employed as a freelance writer or a social media influencer. If your language skills are good, you can try a career in creative writing to create and sell content for marketing purposes.
These kinds of jobs require different kinds of talents and skills, which a college education cannot develop.
The times when college degrees were seen as the only or the most secure path to professional success are gone. With technological developments, changing labor market demands, and access to information and online resources, people now have alternative ways of building successful careers. We do not diminish the value and benefits of college degrees in any way. Demand for them will remain, but they’re no longer a must for success.
Charlotte Banks is an experienced researcher and professional writer. She has been studying the ever-changing trends in college attendance and dropouts, exploring the underlying economic, social, and cultural causes. Charlotte’s articles and blogs are enjoyed by students and tutors in equal measure.