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Is obtaining a business degree at a 4 year college worth it?

Hi, I'm Nathan and I'm looking to attend a college and achieve a degree in the business field. However, in today's society it seems to me like a lot of people are claiming that college isn't worth it due to receiving substantial debt and lack of knowledge. As a professional can you give me professional advice on whether or not attending college is still worth it and why?
#college #business #degree #money


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Alexandra’s Answer

Hi Nathan,

I would agree with Maddison, obtaining a degree is still relevant and important. I got a really good job out of high school and did not think it was necessary to get my degree, but it has stopped me from getting promoted. I went back to school 10 years after I graduated high school and it is a lot harder having to work full time and going to school. If you want to avoid a lot of debt, I would recommend you going to a local community college to get your basics done and then transfer to a university to finish your degree. I asked my professor who taught at both a major private university and a community college if the curriculum is any different or harder at that other school, and she told me no. It was the same only this class was 3k cheaper.

I also agree with Maddison regarding a business degree. I would look at a other majors like a S.T.E.M degree that makes you more attractive to potential employers. One of my mentors who is a senior level executive told me once, " what makes you different from every other John Smith that has an MBA, you need to stand out". I took business classes to have a better understanding but look at what is trending , what employers are hiring for, and which are in demand. Nothing wrong with a business degree, if that is your passion but l also recommend you look at the degree plan for that major. It will give you an idea of the classes need and you can see if all the classes are something you are interested in. I personally do not like math, statistics and calculus are a requirement for a business degree , so I ended up changing my major and I wasted 2 semesters of work that is not applying towards my new major.

Hope this helps you.

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Erin’s Answer

I think whether a college degree is right for you has a lot to do with the field you're interested in getting into. If business is the career field you want, I would definitely recommend another degree. Like some of the others have said, there is only so far you're able to go before you are asked to go back to school for a promotion or a certain job. If you do not have the means to go to college, it's still possible to get where you want to go because many jobs will ask for a degree OR equivalent work experience. The only downside to this is that "equivalent" work experience usual equals to twice the amount of years in experience than a degree requires. For example, if you're going for a management position they may ask for someone with a 4 year bachelor's degree or someone with 6+ years relevant experience.

The other important thing I've learned in the business field is that depending on what you're looking to do, you likely wouldn't need more than a bachelor's degree. I'm an HR manager and I've been able to get similar jobs to those I know with an MBA with just a bachelor's and a certification in my area of interest. I would definitely recommend getting a degree (associate's or bachelor's) then if you want to do more without breaking the bank, you can get certified in a more specialized area.

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Patrick’s Answer

This is a question I had after completing my undergrad at a 4 year college as well as I graduated during the time of the recession with a degree in business. I ended up with a job in sales which I could've have gotten without my college degree. Pay was decent along with the comission but I wanted to use the degree that I earned through my 4 years of university. It got my foot in the door at the company and a year later I transferred to an accounting department where I actually used the skills that I learned. Years later, I have my Master's (paid for by the company) and have earned a lot more then would have been possible without my initial degree. It doesn't work for everyone but there are a lot more opportunities out there once you have earned your degree compared without it.

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Maddison’s Answer

Hey Nathan, great question! After high school I spent 4 years figuring out this question before attending university, and in my opinion the short answer is yes, as long as you utilize the opportunity to its fullest extent as a learning and networking opportunity. University isn't just about academic learning (which is an extremely important aspect, don't get me wrong), but it's also about making connections and learning to think critically and strategically in a way that high school simply doesn't foster.

However, I wouldn't necessarily suggest getting a business degree for undergrad. Consider studying something that will give you a broader base of understanding of the world in which business operates and then going to get an MBA, especially if you don't exactly know what kind of business you want to go into. So many people have an undergraduate business degree. I would rather see someone with a politics, psychology, anthropology, or geography degree transfer into the business field because it shows me their world view is larger than being based solely on the principles of capitalism and consumerism.

On the matter of connections - the professional world is ALL about networking. Success is directly related to who you know - from introductory to executive-level positions, companies often hire within their network, i.e hiring managers often first go to their LinkedIn accounts to see who's job hunting rather than posting on job boards. Going to university and building strong relationships will set you up for success in a way that will not be accessible to you otherwise. Your professors will also generally leaders in their field , and they will be your number 1 resource for landing those lucrative internships or post-graduation starting positions.

As for developing your thinking capacity, successfully attending university - getting great grades, being involved in the community, and having a robust social life - demands the development of a type of skill-set that is not fostered elsewhere. You often hear that college teaches you how to to think, and it's very true. It broadens your understanding of complex subjects by pushing your boundaries and forcing you to connect subjects and topics in a way that is essential to professional success.

When I graduated from high school I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I took many years exploring the options. I seriously did a little bit of everything - from working at coffeeshops to teaching to starting a small wine making business to running open mic nights. I did this because I couldn't justify spending SO MUCH on university and not utilizing to its full extent. If you're just going because you feel like you should and you want to party - wait. You can party for a lot less money as you mature and learn more about the world and how you want to fit into it. I use to teach college prep courses, and my advice to everyone was take a PRODUCTIVE gap year. Look into AmeriCorps positions - you can spend a service term with a nonprofit anywhere in the country, they pay a small living stipend, and at the end you get over $6,000 in scholarships that can be used at universities all over the world. Also, consider going to university abroad, especially if you know what you want to do already. I got my entire degree in London for WAY cheaper than I would have gotten it in the states. On top that, I was able to live in the UK for 3 years (you can get your undergrad in 3 years there instead of 4), which was an experience I wouldn't trade for the world.

Good luck!

Maddison recommends the following next steps:

Look into AmeriCorps for a productive gap year
Saved!
Research universities abroad, especially in the UK (where there won't be a language gap). New College of the Humanities in London may be a great place to start.
Saved!

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Atul’s Answer

The short answer is YES.
This is 21st century and most companies expect to hire candidates with college degree.
Nowadays, there are software that screens applications and it looks for matching keywords including college degree.
If it is not there your application will go in dustbin.
You do not have to go to expensive universities. Go to state school for 4-year or community college to get 2 year degree and transfer to the state school.
Good luck.

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Simeon’s Answer

I'd echo the general consensus that it's not absolutely necessary, but it is a competitive advantage for getting hired. Find the most affordable way to get the piece of paper (diploma) you're after. Outside of medicine/law, which college you go to is almost completely unimportant. Use community college to bring those costs down. However, I would say that there are a growing number of certifications, such as project management, and it is becoming increasingly easy to find your own path without a degree.

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Paul’s Answer

Hi Nathan
I echo Maddison's answer and maybe another thing to consider is that you do not necessarily need a bachelor's in business/commerce in order to pursue an MBA. Meaning, that you can explore other interests in your undergraduate and then decide to pursue an MBA. An MBA has a lot of value in itself from the courses you take, but it can be even more valuable if it's complementary to your undergraduate. More and more employers are seeking "well-rounded" individuals, thus just having an MBA does not necessarily guarantee success. If you really would like to enhance an MBA experience may I suggest you look into an MBA co-op program that allows you to work and apply your learning as you progress.
I hope this helps

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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Nathan,

You have identified two issues: the value of a degree and the cost of a degree.

I think that you are talking about any degree. Business is just one type of degree, although it's value depends on the person getting it. You should get a college degree in a field that you are passionate about it. Passion for a degree makes it easier to get through the hard times, both in school and in work. However, your basic question appears to be - "Is college worth the cost and the work?" It depends. What do you want to do for a living? Does your degree depend on having a degree? These would be things like being a lawyer, medical professional, public school teacher require specific and rigorous degrees. You should aim for a job that uses your natural skills and talents.

Cost is a different issue. College can be a valuable investment in your future. It does not, however, have to put you into debt. And guess what? You don't have to have a degree before you start working or even moving up in a career. You do not have to go to the best university in the world. You can start at community college and you can start with one class. There is no rule that says that you have to finish school in four years. None. Community colleges let you take care of general credits at a cheaper price than the four-year universities. You just need to be sure that if you are later going to transfer to a four-year school, make sure that the community college credits transfer.

So is a college degree worth the cost and the work? Only you will be able to answer that. This is how my story went. I worked until I was 33 without a degree and I made a pretty good living. I started taking college classes when I was 18 and by 33, I still had not earned my degree. Then I was laid off from a job that I loved. And guess what? I had been doing the job for five years and I could not get a job interview for that job without a college degree. Again, I could not get a job INTERVIEW without a degree and I had done the job before. It was terrible. And I learned then that sometimes the degree gets you the interview for the dream job. A college diploma is a competitive advantage. I once heard that only 38% of people get their bachelor's degree. So yes, a college degree can be an important advantage. I finally got my bachelors degree when I was 36 because I now needed a degree for that job that I wanted. (That's 18 years from when I started taking college classes to when I finished.) I was so concerned about losing my dream job, that I went on to earn a Master's Degree when I was 39. I was lucky because by that time, I worked at a job that gave me tuition reimbursement which helped me pay for school.

All this being said - you need to know what you want. You need to know that there is no timeline. There are ways to make college cheaper for you.

Gloria


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