6 answers

How does Going to College Serve a Person today?

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Exactly why do we go to college? For the average Joe, Besides having to practically pay their ENTIRE yearly income to attend to college, how does that shiny certificate help you in the future? Exactly how does that separate you from THOUSANDS of OTHER applicants shooting for the same job. To put on top of that, if you want to go to a specialist field, you have to attend a Graduate school for 6 years to obtain a Masters degree(Which is now becoming the BARE MINIMUM to get a job). Then by the time you are in your mid twenties, you may get a mediocre job at 80 thousand dollars a year IF you are lucky. Now although that is two times the American average wage, you end up paying for your taxes and possibly your student loans you may have received to pay for college. I'm asking this question because I'm aware of many friends who don't have degrees and yet find themselves in promising start-ups and importing businesses. At the same time, I also know many others who have Masters degrees but struggle in securing jobs to support themselves. So I ask again, what is the advantage of going to college? #college #career #help #college-advice #general-advice #choice

6 answers

Prem’s Answer


I think you're asking a few questions which I will try to answer below.

Is college valuable? YES!
College is valuable for the education and for the social growth. In the past, college was a way of accrediting people to say they were good at a certain item and could then practice that field. College is essential these days to show that you had the discipline and ability to learn in a structured environment (working is a massively structured environment). College introduces you to new ways of thinking and provides a risk free ability to explore different interests and areas where you might end up. It makes you a "well rounded person" which essentially means that it grows your social skills and introduces you to a wide range of individuals. College is also awesomely fun.

But is college worth it when it's so expensive? Depends
If your'e paying $60K a year to go to a college and get the same level of education you could at the state school for $10K per year, I would argue you are better off being the top student at the state school. That said, college also can provide you with a network of individuals which you can use later in life. Unfortunately, the world is still largely "who you know" and not just "what you know". These friends might help you get jobs, fund your startup, etc.

But people not going to college are successful (and vice versa)?
Though there are the stories of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburgs, the data will show that the majority of successful individuals are college graduates while Gates and Zuckerburg are exceptions to the rule. If you look at census data, you can actually see the level of wealth and income increase with accredited education. Even a year of college increases your lifetime potential earnings.

Is college for everyone? No.
College is not for everyone. Some people might be more interested in two year vocational schools while others find the academic rigors of college to be overwhelming. Some people can't work in a structured environment. But, again, those who are able to be successful without going to college are few and far between.

Thanks for the informative answer! f James H.
I guess I'm just upset at the fact that many people blindly go to college purely for the degree. I will admit I lacked to mention the atmosphere colleges create. For example, I consider Stanford as a "Breeding Ground" of opportunity because of its track record with the industry. Just look at Google. People don't realize companies like these were not developed from college PhDs, instead, these colleges simply facilitated the process through Social Industrial Networking. James H.
Yes, Google was founded by two folks who dropped out of a PhD program, but as an employee here, I can tell you our first hires were all college graduates (Many PhDs) who were at the top of their fields. I also decided to go back and get a masters degree because the pursuit of education makes one a better person (and hardly ever a worse person). Prem Ramaswami
Why of course! I'm just simply stating that entrepreneurship doesn't always require a Bachelors Degree, let alone a PhD. However, I do see your point of view about the importance of college education.(Who doesn't want to be a better person?) If you don't mind, I'd love to talk to you through email! Best regards. James H.

Johanna’s Answer



In addition to what Prem said above, I think it's important to note that while going to college in and of itself will not separate you from the rest, NOT going to college will. Going to college has now become the norm and a pre-requisite for nearly every professional job. If a recruiter is looking a pile of 100 resumes, even if a college degree is not listed as a pre-requisite, the first and easiest thing to do to pare down the list will be to immediately throw out those who don't have a college degree. That's not to say the person without a college degree will never be considered, but it will take a lot more effort on their part to even get through the first pass. So, choosing not to go to college will likely place one at a significant disadvantage for most professional jobs.

Also, while there may be some widely publicized stores of people who ended up in successful careers without a college degree, they are the very rare exception. And even those people - Zuckerberg and Gates, for example - owe their success to being in college environments. Zuckerberg would not have come up with the idea for Facebook had he not been in college. Nor would he have had the resources. Likewise, Gates has talked about what he learned on campus and how that shaped who he became. And he has written editorials saying that others should not follow in his steps. People who go to college don't only get a fancy degree - they get a larger perspective on the world by meeting people from a variety of backgrounds, they learn how to prioritize and make decisions on their own, learn what type of person they are, and gain experiences that will help them in professional and non-professional settings for the rest of their lives.

I hope this has been helpful. Best of luck to you!

Kimberly’s Answer


Hey James,

Although there are stories of people who skipped college and achieved financial success, for most Americans the paths to higher wages involves a four-year college degree. Above all, the value of a college degree remains high and the average college graduate can recover the cost of attending in less than twenty years. Once the investment is paid, for it continues to pay dividends for the rest of the worker’s life, leaving college graduates with substantially higher lifetime earnings compared to their peers with a high school degree.

Kimberly Cruz

Sources Used:
Autor, David H. "Science Podcast." Skills, Education, and the Rise of Earnings Inequality among the “other 99 Percent” 344.6186 (2014): 1126.

"Database, Tables and Calculators by Subject: Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey" U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. United States Department of Labor,

Leonhardt, David. "Is College Worth It? Clearly, New Data Say." The New York Times. The New York Times Company

Taylor, Paul, Kim Parker, Rich Morin, Rick Fry, Eileen Patten, and Anna Brown. "The Rising Cost of Not Going to College.” Pew Research Centers Social Demographic Trends Project RSS

Carmen’s Answer


I know many successful people that have gone to college and I know many successful people who did not go to college, I know people who learned a trade and have done quite well. I personally went to college to make myself a better person, I did not do it to just get a job. I did it for the experience, and the feeling of accomplishment.

My brother went to school for HVAC and has made an incredible living, owns a large business and now builds homes.

Everyone is different, you have to decide what is best for you.

Ursula’s Answer


Going to college today affords people the opportunity the better themselves and often puts them in the running for the better jobs. For young people, it is the chance to experience independence, challenge themselves, and discover talents they didn't know they had. You basically get out of it what you put into it. The amount of choices can be overwhelming since there are so many options and it can be pretty expensive as well. I wouldn't trade my college experience for the world.

Ken’s Answer


Hi James!

The amount of education that a persons seeks could/should be relevant to the type of work or occupation that appeals to the person. The most important thing to do is to get to know yourself and learn about your skills, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, and aptitudes and then put them in together focused on a career. When you have arrived at a career focus, you can research the education and training needed to succeed in that area. You may not need education beyond high school or beyond community college or beyond technical school.

Let me know how this goes. I will be very happy to help further. Best of luck!!