Introduction to Why College Is Overrated
One thing we're not short on is our large list of reasons why we don't believe college is a good option for most kids...or at the very least why they should make such a decision warily and with a lot of caution. Some people like the long detailed arguments that are put together in a well tied together format, and others like a step by step list to try to quickly make your point and let them mull it over. We've already shown our disdain for the million dollar lie, and we expect that as more people read our hubs there might be some controversy, and that's okay. If there wasn't any controversy at all, I'd be terrified with what society has come to accept as normal or okay. We thought a top 6 list of why college is overrated, or maybe even why college sucks, might be a good way to get the discussion going. Sit down, take a read through, and feel free to leave as long a comment as you need at the bottom to agree, disagree, or otherwise!
Reason #1: Tuition Costs. Do you know how much it costs to go to college right now? The average cost for an in state, public university students is $18,000 per year. For out of state students attending a public college the cost increases to $29,000. For private universities, the average cost is $37,000. These numbers do include tuition, room and board, books, transportation, and other miscellaneous costs, which is what the average college student is going to pay. (Numbers provided by: Troy Onink's article, "The Financial Aid Game")
A lot of these schools will include some type of grant and/or scholarship program to reduce costs, but not eliminate. If you're not top 10%, or even 5%, of the best in the country, expect nearly half to the majority of your financial aid to be student loans. Especially when you think that the average tuition cost keeps increasing around 5% per year. You would be crazy to think that grants and scholarship programs increase by that much every year. All we can say about growing tuition costs is, "Damn that is a LOT of money."
Debt After College
Reason #2: The Debt Load After College. I think people either forget or don't know how hard it is to live a life full of debt, especially when the piper comes to collect. Imagine getting your first job after graduating college, and you make around $35,000 a year (before taxes). It could be better, but you're pretty happy with this amount until you start getting $300.00 bills from student loans companies per month (or 500 or 600, depending how many loans you had and what the interest rates are). And guess what? Only a tiny fraction of that money is actually paying off the principal of the loans. Most of it is going to the interest you did not pay during college.
That $300.00 is maybe what you used to pay your credit card bills, which have been piling up a little bit more money since you left school because somehow that first check just isn't covering all the bills every month. You are also making sure your rent, utilities, electric, and water bills are paid—and God forbid that you live without cable TV and high-speed Internet! Plus the car payment for your new car, insurance for every which thing, and your fiancée is nagging you about finding a home for the two of you while you're still making monthly payments to pay off her ring....
What many college graduates find out, often too late, is that it really is not a pretty picture once all the pieces are put together, and you will be amazed at how much of an effect that $25,000 is school debt has on you. Plus you are now 23 and haven't even started a retirement fund. And when you see your high school buddy who did not go to school driving around in his new truck, inviting you to a party at his house later that night, it can really drive you crazy. Be prepared to put some of those major life decisions like a new home or a new car on hold for a while after college, because the money usually isn't there, even if more debt is.
Video: Professor Admits Education Is Not Enough
Lost Working Years
Reason #3 is lost working years. There is that very famous census that talks about the $1 earnings number but fails to mention that they don't count any of the work done from ages 18-24. So just what the heck is a high school graduate doing from the ages of 18-22 that a college student is not doing? Working full time.
Never underestimate the importance of work experience. Think about it. While you were getting your management degree, your buddy started as a worker, became an assistant manager and thrived for two years before making manager. When you apply for the same job, is the hiring business going to think you are ready to be a manager just because you have a piece of paper saying you graduated with a management degree, or are they going to go to the guy who already has 2-3 years of management experience? Unless you have compromising photographs of the hirer from an old frat party, you're probably not getting that job.
While you are racking up debt at college, the high school graduate is making money, and the smart ones are investing it already in a Roth IRA. That four year advantage is going to turn into a new car, possibly buying a home, traveling, and if the high school graduate is smart, $2,000 or $3,000 a year going into a retirement fund. The only thing the college graduate has after graduation is debt, and a much later start on a new car, a home, and a retirement fund.
Numbers Questionable at Best: But Shows Value of Saving Early
Not Going to College = Early Retirement
Reason #4: Not going to college can mean an early or more prosperous retirement. We all know that investing $25,000 of tuition money into an IRA or a savings account would mean that I could retire faster than spending that money on college. However, most people do not have $25,000 of tuition money just lying around, so they take out loans and pay for college with grants and scholarships. But what if I didn't go to college but invested a few thousand dollars a year, every year, in a retirement fund right out of high school? Remember, I would get basically a five-year head start on a college graduate (and that's low end, it could be as high as a 6 or 7-year head start), and I would not have the debt to worry about.
Let's say both a college graduate and a high school graduate started investing their money (and let's say the market has just an average turnaround over the years) and we can earn an 8% return per year when all is said and done. If both groups start with a $1,000 and invest $2,000 a year until retirement age (age 65), a high school graduate is going to put away $1,015,496 while a college graduate only earns $682,205. Why is this? Because the $10,000 head start a high school graduate gets on investing makes all of the difference in the world in the long term.
A college student would just fall short of catching up to this high school student even if they invested $3,000 a year, and if the high school student maxs out early contributions, it's next to impossible for the college graduate to catch up without a job that pays well into the six figures. The numbers don't lie: it's very possible for a high school graduate to make $500,000 less in a lifetime than the college graduate, but end up with more money at retirement.
Graduation Rates, or Lack Thereof
Reason #5: Because almost half of college students won't graduate anyway. We all know what the worst thing that can happen to a young student is. Going to college and failing to get a degree while taking a load of money out in loans not only jeopardized their future but takes away any advantage they might be able to get from working right away and not taking out any student loans.
I know what most people say when they go to college; I won't be one of the people who drop out. The thing is, statistics show that almost 50% of ALL students who start never graduate with their degree. Until they system is fixed and colleges are more worried about graduating their students, why spend a lot of money to fail?
You Don't Have to Go to College to Learn
Reason #6: Because skills often matter more than academic degrees. Why do people go to college? We have to assume that one of the reasons is to learn, and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, learning for the sake of learning is a very noble and commendable pursuit. But why do you have to go to college to learn? If you want to be a lawyer or a doctor, that's one thing, but anyone who has a library card can get a hold of the same books as people who attend college read. Anyone who can use the Internet can learn anything from website design to computer programming, to basically any type of study they want. All of this learning takes place at a fraction of the cost.
Programming like the Rosetta Stone Software has made learning a foreign language easier than ever. Employers might see that you do not have a college degree, but if you can speak a foreign language, and have great computer skills, why wouldn't they hire you?
Conclusion on Why College Sucks (or is Overrated)
We do want to make 2 things clear before jumping into the conclusion:
- We are not against the college experience—that can be a fantastic time of growth, discovery, and friendship—but students should be told the whole truth before going in.
- We are not against education or learning. But we are against the current system.
That said, college is definitely overrated and the way it is promoted to high school students in our opinion is nothing short of an outright scam for many. Tell the English major they will not make nearly a million a year more over a lifetime as a teacher vs. being a factory worker. Tell a philosophy major how difficult academics really is before pushing them to grad school. Go ahead and tell science majors they're fine...if they can survive the basic science courses at the college level.
I hope this hub will help to open a dialogue and a good solid discussion on the true pros and cons of college so young adults can truly make an informed decision and go into it with their eyes open.
R V Datmir on August 21, 2020:
You spend tens of thousands of dollars you don't have to learn how the adult world OUGHT to work so you can be the more disaffected when you discover that it doesn't work that way. If you are thinking about college, especially of going to business school, I recommend you email email@example.com so you can find a way to get real knowledge you can actually use for only a fraction of the cost of a college education.
Phil on August 16, 2020:
Reason # 7: You spend a lot of money and time studying subjects you will have no use for. The majority of courses you are required to take have nothing to do with your career path, nor are anything you have any interest in. One reform college needs is to provide the fast track, whereby you can focus on your major only, and be done in 2 years, without wasting time and effort just to get your passing grade in all the other garbage you don't need.
Davey on January 13, 2020:
Austin although some of what you say may be true, there is no guarantee that there are jobs open around your career your looking to go for, while if you were to go to trade school there is always jobs needed for trade jobs such as electrician or heating and conditioning. If working while in college is a problem why not just get a full time job after high school, save up money, and go to trade school after you save up enough btw you don’t have to do all classes in 1 go you can do it piece by piece.
Austin on May 14, 2019:
1 - Tuition is a price you pay for getting paid more later. [Was your lunch free today?]
2 - If you got a good enough payrate/salary the debt will be always be less than what you making. [Invest in yourself. Then simply don't disappoint your investor.]
3 - Work while you're in college to not lose working years. [I am funded research chemist getting both lab experience and pay while I'm IN school.]
4 - Does retirement really need to come fast if you are doing the job that you love? [When I get old I don't want to have to stay out of the lab.]
5 - Simply graduate. [There are people out there that can't cut it. Just get depressed and feel defeated for a hot minute, then move onto trying to be better. Don't quit before you even tried.]
6 - During your time getting your academic degree YOU are expected to pick up the skills offered to you ONLY AT a university, there will be no hand holding. [I couldn't have learned to use a Bruker NMR spectrometer without being somewhere that had one.]
TT on February 15, 2019:
Going to college was the biggest mistake of my life. I majored in science and still have had trouble finding work, unstable work places and bouts of unemployment. I majored in food science Nd let me tell you it is very limiting and not a good field at all. Pay rate is the same as 20 years ago. So save money and skip college and find a good trade to go into. You will make more money and have steady work... I made a huge mistake by going into my profession.
Jackie Nieto on August 28, 2018:
Hi! I don't mean to be rude by any means, but I'm using this article for my English assignment for high school! I was wondering what your credentials are for this manner.
Also, this is really informal for me and personally it reassures my decision on trade school! Thank you so much!
2timegrad on August 21, 2018:
College to this day remains the biggest mistake of my life. Its been 10 years now and I have never taken a job in my field of study. Luckily I learned how to undertake entrepreneurship in my private time. Otherwise I would have been doomed to poverty by following the track my "educators" had laid out for me.
jonathan chamos on March 05, 2018:
college is like a zombie factory. humans going in zombies going out. they don't know where to start
Camille Harris from SF Bay Area on May 28, 2017:
Thanks for this *still* timely article. I believe today's youngsters are starting to realize the great college lie, but the more information on alternative perspectives like yours, the better. I, unfortunately, learned this lesson too late as I graduated from college in the midst of the great recession of the 2000s. After bouncing from job to job, I'm finally somewhat financially stable. I feel I'm a bit behind for my age, but better late than never, right? Keep up the great work!
plumber on May 23, 2017:
I actually know several college educated folks that after graduating, and facing tremendous debt, could not find employment and swallowed their pride and began serving as apprentice and took up a trade. (Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC, etc.
They all despise their HS counselors, parents and the media for promoting college.
It's different if you go to college knowing that you want to be a vet, m.d., dentist, scientist, etc. (some marketable skill). But most kids in college have no clue what they want to be and are just wasting time and money. Only ones winning in that fight are the overpriced institutions that keep bringing them in.
Mark on April 28, 2017:
After reading most of the pro -college posts on this form . I am convinced that going to college makes you a fool. Why would you go to college and get a degree . You do not have to have a degree to have your own business and work for yourself and make as much as you want . If you work for someone else , they make the rules ...If you work for yourself you make the rules ...like how much you make , when go in and so on . Started my own business at 18 made my first million by the time I would have finished college . Am not saying that college is bad thing... we need doctors , but college is WAY overrated .
Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on September 20, 2014:
DJ, when a person reaches college age, it is up to HIM/HER to care about his/her learning success, not the professor. The professor is there to impart knowledge, it is the responsibility of the student to learn and succeed. College isn't elementary and/or junior high school where it is the teacher's responsibility to make sure that the child learns. When one reaches college, he/she is an adult and is on his/her own.
DJ on September 20, 2014:
How about professor's & curriculum? I am a mid-life student who had earned 2 Associate degrees then returned to school for a Bachelors. The one thing that I have learned thus far is if you do not know the material walking into the class, you're not going to learn it from your tenured professor.
Even thoughost the key ingredient to being a good teacher or instructor is care for students success, most tenured professor's could care less of you succeed or not. Actually, I believe most of them want you to fail so you will have to retake the class & repay the tuition.
Why go to college, if it is not to learn? And how are you suppose to learn when you are already expected to know it because the PhD tenured professor knows it.
Even though there is the cost of the institution & the beuracracy stuff that goes along with it all. My biggest complaint has been the lack of care from professors which is largely due to the tenure provides a job security that the union once did for others.
Geo on December 30, 2013:
Education is wonderful but college is overrated. Why did I limit the number my kids to 2 for college if I haven't worked full-time for 13 years. The most imporatant thing is to have as many kids as you can and enjoy them today!
matagt1983 on December 10, 2013:
The person that committed before me is completely full of crap. There are plenty of jobs you could start right this second without a college degree that would pay you a lot more than getting a college degree ever will. When I graduated high school I went and got a job at Budweiser like a week after starting off as a merchandiser and worked my way up. I am now a Team Lead making 60000 a year and I am able to take care of a family just fine. People with degrees come into my warehouse all of the time and will get passed up for somebody with experience. Other companies like UPS, FedEx, Frito-Lay, Coca-cola, Hobby Lobby and I could name a lot more, pay very well but like everything else you have to work your way up. The above poster took the hard way and didn't realize that sometimes the simplest answer was right in front of you all along.
TriangularMann on May 25, 2013:
"Employers might see that you do not have a college degree, but if you can speak a foreign language, and have great computer skills, why wouldn't they hire you?"
Speaking as a software engineer who wasted more than a decade working in unskilled labor instead of going to college, and clamoring for a chance to demonstrate my proficiency to employers who ignored me before I finally gave in and got an education, I will answer this for you: Because someone else will be just as good if not better than you and have a college degree. That's why. A college degree entails more than just knowing a language, but also experience in team-building, versioning, complying with coding style standards, and other skills you otherwise ignore when learning on your own. It means student discounts and freebies on professional software tools that are prevalent in the industry that a non-student would otherwise be unable to acquire and thus unable to have any familiarity with. It also means a portfolio of professional academic experience and other credible documentation of your progress. No *paid* experience doesn't mean no experience at all. Academic experience is valid. Lastly, having a 4-year degree shows that you were able to dedicate 4 years to something relevant to the chosen field and stick it out, demonstrating commitment and longevity. This is why any HR rep flipping through the stack of 100 or so applications they receive every day will toss those that don't meet minimum education requirements straight in the trash without a second glance. You will never be a professional software developer without a proper education.
During the years of work before I finally went to college, I thought for sure that I'd gained more education and more experience just from work and life than I could have ever gotten from college. After starting my 3rd year of college, I found out how sorely mistaken I was, and you are too.
If your goals in life include raising a family, go to college. You will be an unstable provider if you aren't marketable. If your goals include a professional craft, like programming, go to college. You can't get into or stay in the industry without it. If your goals include a comfortable salary and spoiling yourself forever and enjoying a retirement not plagued by debt problems of your youth, go to college. Unless you work in the government or one of the extremely rare private sector employers who pampers its unskilled workers and doesn't go out of business before then, you won't make enough money. You don't have to take my word for it. Check every government statistic available. The more education you have, the lower the rate of unemployment and the higher the average and median income levels. If your goals in life include only being a tortured artist living in a studio apartment, smoking weed while spending your McDonald's paycheck on living in a Motel 6, or anything of that sort, then by all means, don't go to college.
Michael on April 15, 2013:
College is great if you want to be an academic, but not if you don't. An additional problem is that high schools spend too much time on convincing students to go to college and not enough on the skills that are needed to succeed in college. While what the author of this hub said is true, I think that they were too broad with their argumentation which too easily opens it up to criticism.
Jadotch on February 04, 2013:
College is overrated for many many fields. It is good for STEM fields, government jobs and the medical field.
There are many other jobs in business, management, the arts, marketing, software programming and design, technical jobs and blue collar jobs where a degree is overrated. Many of these can be "self-taught" which many times is better because it shows the person has a passion for what they do.
However learning is never pointless. I am one of those people that is "going back to school", and truthfully it is kind of disappointing. It all goes back to what you want to do in life, and college is just one route to get there. It is not the only route. (In most cases anyways.)
johnny on September 06, 2012:
Colleges also distract you or include some electronic trash to your course you don't need
johnny on September 06, 2012:
all those GARBAGE can courses about MY enemies. LIKE f*ck you N*gger. it use to the dead white guys. NOW you are the UNWANTED garbage USELESS trash disease, debts SKEL machine. HOW much was the GARBAGE in the window.
denisevirostek from Richmond, VA on June 23, 2012:
"You Don't Have to Go to College to Learn". I wrote a hub on that same point!
sanjib kumar jena on June 09, 2012:
Sir/Madam,my name is sanjib please give me oppurtunity in your collage .
Hard work. on May 20, 2012:
Hard work and dedication is the key to success not some bullshit college degree. I didn't go to college and make 75,000 a year working 30 hrs a week while alot of my friends did go and make less then i do and work more hrs.
Doug on May 17, 2012:
Non-college graduates will probably pay $50,000-$100,000 more in loan interest than college graduates anyway, so why not just go to college and face the initial debt? Credit card, car and mortgage loans all apply 0.25% to 0.5% higher interest rates to non-college graduates because history shows (by analyzying 100s of millions of loans and lines-of-credit by all the financial institutions) that non-college graduates are FAR FAR more likely to default on their loans than college graduates. Achieving a degree tells lending institutions that you are someone who can stick something out for 4-5 years.
Roland L Daye from United States on May 12, 2012:
Student loans are definitely a scam. I'm glad I paid mine off in full before the first payment was due. I never had to pay any interest (that's what gets people in the hole)! I just gave Great Lakes back what they gave me -- no more, no less. As for the financial aspect of attending college in the United States, I could go on and on, but I'll keep it short by just saying this -- if any other industry was as fiscally irresponsible as higher ed, then they would be out of business. Period.
Andy on May 06, 2012:
Finally, someone gets it.
Sam Magro on April 30, 2012:
RMM on April 30, 2012:
Made a typo near the end. Should have typed graduate, not graduated. I did learn something in College, but I wasted my time in a liberal arts course of study-Speech Communication with an option in General Broadcasting. Yeah, I worked in the field and was not successful. I am merely an educated working stiff who had the misfortune of getting poked in the rear numerous times by the fickle finger of fate. As my Grandfather once said (He was a Coal Miner in Eastern Pennsylvania) "S**t happens".
RMM on April 30, 2012:
It is overrated and overpriced. I went to Penn State, graduated and went on to a life filled with adversity, hardship and plain old fashioned failure. Then again, when I was a college kid, I frequently lacked self confidence, which in retrospect cost me dearly throughout the course of my life. I wasted my time because I did not think I could excel, even though I did graduated and earned a B.A. (Big F*****g deal).
SonQuioey10 on February 16, 2012:
It's true, experiences in life delivers more education than a college or university ever could.
All people need have today is a laptop and ambition or ideas to make a living.
Education is a rough investment with a lot of costs, especially with the shortage of jobs.
What you're writing is all too true. Great Hub.
SmarttChick on January 13, 2012:
I think you are on to something, but not with the broad brush you have used to paint the issue. When I completed my degree (from a traditional university, as a single Mom), my salary quadrupled (yes, increased x4) and today I am a 6-digit earner.
The problem today is that people think that college is a magic pill that suddenly makes them super-employable so they are willing to borrow untold sums of money for the degree which too often, as you note, doesn't pan out.
Not all degrees are worth the time or money investment.
Not all schools are worth the money they charge (for example, some of the for-profits that charge more than $30,000 for an associate's degree that will enable graduates to earn $9/hour - do the math; that's a DUMB investment!)
Not all students are going to learn enough to land a good job, even if the school and degree program were good!
College is not for everyone. Make the decision wisely, and as someone much wiser than I said many years ago, "know thyself!"
Stan on January 10, 2012:
College is incredibly overrated, and the comments here simply go to show how ignorant people are to the changing times. I currently work for game franchise that has been around for 25 years, and I can tell you that college was the greatest waste of money I've ever squandered. Unfortunately, it was money that could have been spent to give myself a great jump toward building my studio. I've learned more by networking with other people in my field online and through online research than I did in my 6 years across two colleges. Every point the author made is absolutely true.
observantmate on November 05, 2011:
yea it is overrated and expensive...
Justin on August 03, 2011:
This article really makes me feel good. I have a degree in culinary arts and I am certified chef. I graduated before I graduated high school. This is when the economy was in it's prime. Today, I am not using my degree. I graduated High school on time and I am independently medicine, ophthalmology, economics, practicing to become a certified Pilot AND working as Director of Promotions and 2nd in command in Marketing in an ever-expanding pharmacy, sign company and limo service. Life is good. In my professional opinion, with the way the economy is today, college is NOTHING but a big fat joke. Listen up, if you are fresh out of high school or a Junior Senior trying to make that tough decision, let me help, SAVE YOUR MONEY! Get into the work force and make the money. Isn't that what it all boils down to anyway? I go through resumes. I promise you, if I have 2 people in front of me, one of which graduated top of his class in Marketing but never worked a day in his life, I'd laugh him out of my office. Subsequently, if another applicant stood in front of me and had experience with face to face Marketing and had brilliant ideas and was a natural born leader and had experience, I'd shake his hand and welcome him aboard.
Think about it. Get out here, get your experience and work, work, work! Who wouldn't want an early retirement, after all?
Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on July 16, 2011:
Great hub; however, I elect to disagree on certain points. Yes, there are students who are immature and are not ready for college. Yes, those are the students who usually fail and drop out of college.
However, for the mature and motivated student, college is an excellent learning experience which teaches them how to critically think and prepare for a future career. When one attends college, he/she should be mature enough to know what courses to take to prepare for a career. College is not for parties and socializing and that is what the average students think when he/she attends college. Wrong, the purpose of college is EDUCATION. Many American youth were not inundated with the seriousness of EDUCATION which non-American students are. Those students are usually more level headed and mature and approach college education with a high degree of respect.
Furthermore, one must pick an intelligent and suitable, job related major at college. Philosophy and other soft majors do not cut it today in these increasingly postmodern, postindustrialized, computerized society. It is no one's fault if many college graduates do not obtain the job of their dreams but their own. College is what you make of it.
J.J on June 27, 2011:
Yo Ugh im so glad ah didn't listen ta all da college parrots ah gots run into. Im doin' just fine an' im 30. werk off da books as an aide.. ah knew if ah trusted da universe it would he`p me.. ah make 15 an hour even in muh motha fuckin sleep dere. an' know so many niggas in one jewish building dey always ax me ta werk fo' dem. ah say nahh so many times cuz ah dont wants ta spead myself ta thin.. niggas da only way ta break up da scam iz ta not participate in it. ah knew when ah used ta ride da subways here in NYC dat da college ads sounded like snake oil salesmen. Promising uh brighter faster future on da fastest faster track ta mo' success? wTF im not mad stupid ah wont fall fo' it.. Check out how much da adminstrators is making, madness money dey lie an' scare parent an' kids... Wif homelessness even.. Its hard but keep telling da old parrots who is jealous yo' not wasting yo' life away learing sheeit u mah fuckin hate ta simma dawn naw! in the hood
Sima Ballinger from Michigan on January 15, 2011:
I am glad you wrote this Hub. It is well worth reading the comments as well. Financing your education has to be planned. Here are my thoughts.
First of all, let me say: Post Secondary Education is necessary for the growth of our society. A society that does not educate herself, is doomed for failure.
Second, many people do not know why they want to go to college which plays into the mass amount of debt accumulated. People have no plan and often do not complete college. Debt and no Degree is painful -- financially and emotionally.
Third, there are scenarios of both College Educated, Degreed individuals and Non-Degree Successful people. Fourth, if we as people are working only to accummulate stuff -- cars, houses, etc...we are most miserable.
Lastly, I would hope that our main purpose in life is to be contributing human beings to soceity where we make a difference in the lives of our fellow men and women.
Matt on November 06, 2010:
Whoever wrote this article is obviously not living in reality for several reasons:
1. It is unlikely that your typical high school grad is going to land a job that could lead to a management position in four years. Or ever. Without SERIOUS hookups, most high school grads can't really hope for more than a minumum wage job in fast food or retail.
2. Jobs like factory workers, welders, iron workers, etc can CERTAINLY pay more than a typical teaching job. However, with apprenticeships going the way of the dodo bird (and often requiring significant skills and experience when they are available), it is quite unlikely that a typical high school grad is just going to be able to waltz into one of these jobs. In all likelihood, anyone interested in pursuing one of these careers is going to have to enroll in community college classes. Maybe not a traditional bachelor's degree program. But college nevertheless.
3. Learning a skill on your own is NEVER a bad thing. However, pretty much all jobs in such fields as computer programming or web design are going to require a degree of some sort. It doesn't matter if you have learned web design better on your own than you could have at any school out there. If you don't have the degree, you're not hired. PERIOD!
4. The whole idea that an 18-24 year old will have a better retirement because they can contribute to, say, a Roth IRA during this time sounds good in theory. However, with the kinds of wages they are likely to be making during this time, they will probably not be putting away much (if anything) toward retirement. It is also not likely that your average 18-24 year old flipping burgers is going to be able to save up the $1000 (or so) necessary to start a retirement account on top of all of their other expenses.
5. Some of us actually WANT to be things like engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. Without a degree, you just can't do these things. Furthermore, all of these careers play a vital role in society. If high school grads just stopped going into these things, we (as a society) would have a REAL problem on out hands.
6. Going to college need not be as expensive as suggested here. For instance, going to community college during the first two years can lower expenses significantly, as can going to a state college close to home. And even if you went to college away from home, it's not like room and board is something you WOULDN'T essentially be paying for if you were just working and living on your own.
Now I'm not suggesting by any means that every high school grad should pursue a bachelor's degree. But to say that every high school grad would have the same (or better) chances for success WITHOUT postsecondary education is just ludicrous. A bachelor's degree can be VERY helpful for those people who want to enter careers which require a degree. But for others, a couple of years of learning a trade at a community college (such as welding, machining, automotive mechanics, etc) is going to result in VASTLY improved opportunities compared to just having a high school diploma.
Jason on November 05, 2010:
Ugh im so glad i didn't listen to all the college parrots i have run into.
Im doing just fine and im 30. Work off the books as an aide..
I knew if i trusted the universe it would help me.. I make 15 an hour even in my sleep there.
And know so many people in one jewish building they always ask me to work for them. I say no so many times because i dont want to spead myself to thin..
People the only way to break up the scam is to not participate in it. I knew when i used to ride the subways here in NYC that the college ads sounded like snake oil salesmen. Promising a brighter faster future on the fastest faster track to more success? wTF im not stupid i wont fall for it.. Check out how much the adminstrators are making, crazy money they lie and scare parent and kids... With homelessness even..
Its hard but keep telling the old parrots who are jealous your not wasting your life away learing stuff u hate to simma dawn naw!
MisterJ26 on August 11, 2010:
I started college late. I went to work as soon as I was done with HS. I saved up and started college. I am now about to finish up my AA degree. I was going to go on to a four year school, but I realized how much of a waste of time college really is. I would rather read about things I am interested in on my own. I do not fit well in the college enviroment. I never was much of a class person even when I was younger. I prefer to teach myself. I could maybe do online classes, but as far as going to a campus with other students and professors? I am done with that.
Jeff on August 11, 2010:
Most people with and without college degrees are working low level go no where jobs. Everyone in America is screwed...jobs that require an education are gone. I think colleges are totally corrupt. Why would you want to be in debt $100k+ only to have no job for the rest of your life?? People are dumb
Collegekid on August 05, 2010:
College isn't overrated, it's overpriced. I have to agree that high schools do make it sound like college is a necessity and not an option, but if you use your resources and network in college it will get you further than those who didn't attend college. College is an opportunity to network with professionals and grab internships (which counts as work experience as well) so I don't know about you but college is putting me ahead of the game.
Chris on July 10, 2010:
Its possible to learn things on your own....but not nearly as probable as it would be if you were to be learning in a 4 year university where your knowledge is constantly scrutinized by professors in the form of exams, projects and papers. Really though, if most don't have the willpower (and I understand that money is an issue and it is not always a matter of will) to study hard when given the opportunity to do almost nothing but that, how can you expect these same people to learn on their own without the motivation provided by college...plus, I know I would have felt terribly guilty and ashamed if I hadn't finished college after having all that federal money and my parents' money given to me.
Joe on June 19, 2010:
While the author is right that the current system sucks, he forgets one thing:
Most people I know without college degrees aren't exactly moving their way up the corporate ladder.
Most people I went to HS with who didn't either go to college or join the military are working low level jobs, with little to no benefits. Most jobs aren't interested in self-taught employees, either.
So yeah, people not in college are working. As cashiers at the supermarket. Like I was, except I was also learning skills in college. Ripoff? Sure. But I have things like weekends. It's nice.
nick on April 26, 2010:
I went to College to study music. The music program collapsed, and I switched my major to behavioral sciences. After I got that piece of paper, I went to get a certificate in music therapy. But to be a music therapist, a person needs a masters, whatever that is. I am now working a part time job as an English tutor at a community college in the Bronx. After college, I went back to my piano teacher from high school after barely touching a piano for four years. She whipped me back into shape.
I am back working at a community college, sadly. People would ask "why are you working at a college if you think college is a scam?" Well, I am tutoring people in how to write papers, something these high school graduates should have learned, but just did not. I often wonder what they are even doing here.
As for my music, I perform at a bar. Some people really enjoy my playing. I also have gone to jam sessions recently. After the first two jam sessions I went to, I felt "if this is not music education, I do not know what is!"
Michael Harris on April 24, 2010:
College is overrated?! I think not! That is just asinine. Now I would agree that going for a degree in philosophy or english or history --though interesting-- without a career plan is dangerous. But not everyone attending college is going for those types of degrees. Most people that I know that are in college are going because the career they want to get into requires a degree -- engineering, teaching, architecture, actuarial science, medicine... Not everyone in the world wants to be a f...ing Iron worker or welder or autoworker or plumber (though those are certainly respectable trades). I think there are two types of people who say that college is overrated: those who majored in philosophy and can't find a job, and those who never went to college and deep down inside regret it.
The fact is, a college degree IS necessary in order to pursue, with success, many career fields.
P.S No offense intended to those of you who are iron workers or welders or auto workers or plumbers.
Carolyn on April 02, 2010:
As someone who has edited student papers and theses and tutored college students (both as a volunteer and paid), I feel that many students are not really interested in learning. Often they are interested only in having some type of credential for a better job. There is nothing wrong with that, but college doesn't deliver.
Jon TEP from Midwest USA on January 05, 2010:
Love the "Good Will Hunting" scene. It was nice to see someone finally say that, even if it was a movie. This hub makes some really good points about college education, and I'm glad someone has the courage to say it to at least open up the discussion.