Hope you're well. That is an interesting question. Well, let me first start out by saying that a bachelor's degree is one of the foundational steps in building a great career. Whether it is the field of engineering, management, accounting, law, public policy or even academics or teaching, going to college for a bachelor's would only improve your standing while applying for jobs as a fresher or to further improve your career. Not only is it going to help you stand out from other applicants who probably do not have a bachelor's degree or possess only a diploma, but it would also put you in a better position to negotiate your salary. The variety of courses you will choose at college, coupled with in-class experience, faculty discussions, taking tests, will all go a long way in your professional work life.
Anisha recommends the following next steps:
If your chosen career requires having a bachelors degree, then enough said. If you are unsure of your career path, well, you have many options that may not require a degree. However, furthering your education and building your knowledge base will never hold you back, be a lifelong learner!
Having that degree opens a wider pool of jobs you can apply for. I know a person with a BA in theater that is currently working as a project engineer. They brought her on simply because she had a degree and the skills of time management, organization and delegation to keep projects running. They would not have considered her without the piece of paper, even though the skills she possesses are soft skills which are inherent in her personalty and not necessarily something she learned sitting in the classroom.
Kathy recommends the following next steps:
Michelle L. Bishop, M.A., C.D.M.S., G.C.D.F.
Here is the other thing to consider when looking at degree options: there is a lot of skilled labor out there and it will require some, if not all, formal education. It used to be that a high school diploma could get you pretty far. However, in the last 20-30 years what you could accomplish with a high school diploma now requires an AA degree or completion of an apprenticeship program. Where an AA degree was required, a bachelor's degree is needed, and where a bachelor's degree was required, a master's degree is needed. The trend is changing with technology advances and the ability to manage that technology.
If you are focused and determined to enter a specific field that requires a Bachelor's Degree, the degree is a must to get your foot in the door.
A Bachelor's Degree will provide you with a wider range of opportunities, and many times a higher starting salary.
The first and second year of classes may seem broad, but once you select your concentration or degree type by the third and fourth year you will have a clearer understanding of the realm of business you are joining.
In the process of obtaining a Bachelor's Degree you may find more hands-on learning opportunities within a specific field as well. For example, many times colleges and universities offer an accredited program or class where you can intern for college credits.
During the beginning of my time working towards my Bachelor's degree I was unsure of what I wanted to focus on. My general classes opened my eyes to many different fields, and gave me an opportunity to explore different careers.
Keep in mind there ARE excellent jobs and career paths you can take that do not require a degree. For example, plumbers, electricians, contractors, and construction workers can maintain an excellent salary and livelihood despite not having a degree.
Most importantly, do your research and ask questions.
Danielle recommends the following next steps:
Typically if a company sees that you have earned your bachelors degree they will take a closer look at your resume. Depending on the job position of course. But it definitely can give you an edge over other applicants. A bachelors degree can also assist in receiving a better pay scale over non-bachelor positions. In my current position a bachelors degree is a requirement. I would not have the career I do without one. I have since gone on to achieve my masters as well. Which gives me an edge over other applicants if I should ever choose to apply elsewhere. I truly believe that continuing your education is a benefit to you & your future.
Amy recommends the following next steps:
So, I would say that it depends on a few factors.
1) Career goals.
There are many new jobs that do not require a bachelor's degree, and can be attained by doing vocational training, certificate programs, apprenticeships, or associate degrees. To name a few: electricians, construction workers, real estate agent, finance managers, and many more with the potential to earn as much or more than someone with a degree.
Certain jobs that require a bachelor's degree with the potential of high earnings include Engineer, Registered Nurse, Accountant, Marketing Manager, Human Resource Manager, Hospitality Manager, and more.
Higher degree does not always equate to higher pay. It really comes down to the drive and motivation of an individual to reach higher to attain the right skills. Also sometimes it just requires the individual to simply "ask" for higher pay.
2) Career ambitions.
a. Do you desire to seek career advancement or higher earning potential from within a company?
In most cases, obtaining a Bachelor's degree will increase your chances of being hired even if the job does not require it. It is assumed by employers, that if you can survive the rigorous college education regiment then you should then be apt and able to perform the entry-level responsibilities required. Additionally, an investment into your continued education could then become valuable to a company in that you will return with more knowledge, skills, and insight and thus provide a return on investment.
b. Do you wish to someday be your own boss?
You will hear many success stories of Entrepreneurs that have made it without ever getting a college degree. Whether you are this type of individual or not, some college education is still recommended. To be a successful Entrepreneur, certain necessary habits and skills can be acquired just from the act of going to college such as organization, time management, project management, and probably the most important networking.
c. Will you be content to hold a job as long as it is secure, pays the bills, and provides benefits?
It's okay to want to have a job you can be good at everyday. I have an Uncle who worked for a Printing company and held the same job for 30 years without ever being promoted. He always excelled at his job and was offered promotions multiple times only to turn them down multiple times. He was happy with his job, and didn't want to be bothered the the stress of added responsibilities. He's now happily retired. A bachelor's degree can also mean job security for many jobs.
Many have a wish or desire to pursue specific careers, but
many will never know for sure whether they will love their jobs in say 10 years
And no one can accurately predict whether they will lose their jobs in few years to automation or out-sourcing overseas.
Overall, I will say that going to college has it's benefits and can open doors, but it's not necessary to be successful in today's economy where I believe skills can matter more and doors are open to those who prove worthy to walk through. Many skills can learned and acquired through much cheaper and sometimes better sources. Whatever it is you decide to do, do it with intent. You won't know what it takes until you try.
Xiong recommends the following next steps:
the benefits of getting a bachelor degree is not just the degree itself that employers look for you to have, but it’s also the path that is important in obtaining the degree. Perhaps the intro classes in year one and two might not make sense, but around year three, you’ll gain a better sense of achievement and college will be more manageable as you’re getting into the more difficult courses. It’s the momentum and gaining a better sense of self and accomplishment that is just as important as the degree.
Helen Godfrey, M.A., NCC, BCC, LPC
Thank you for asking this question. It is a big decision and I think it's great that you are reaching out to resources to get advice.
I would absolutely agree with Anisha and the steps recommended above.
In addition, here is a graph that you may find helpful. It is by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and shows the salary difference between individuals who have attended college vs. individuals who have not attended college: https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm I think you will find the results compelling.
Something else to consider is that individuals who attend college are automatically part of a network that would not be available if they did not pursue a degree. There are opportunities open to you as a result of being in college such as interning which you probably couldn't access if you weren't a student. Many of the large companies pull their full-time hires from their internship pool so, interning gives you a competitive advantage. In addition, you will now have peers who will be able to serve as connections for you. You can compare notes, discuss best practices, etc.
One resource I love to refer my students to is www.linkedin.com/alumni where they can contact alumni who are doing the work they think they may enjoy doing. It is a great way to network and when you share something in common, in this case, a university, it is easier to connect.
Helen recommends the following next steps: