Congressional hearings and the resulting Gainful Employment Acthas heightened the age old debate about the value of higher education. With the rising student loan debtsurpassing credit card debt, this question is more immediate and practical than philosophical.
Proponents of higher education will say that those with business degrees and MBA’s tend to make substantially morethan those without degrees. Many organizations have either policies or hidden ceilings prohibiting those without degrees in obtain promotions. The more hands on, skills building type degrees such as first responders, nursing degrees or interior design produce practical skills that clearly differentiate the abilities of those without certification or higher education from those with certification or higher education.
Those who argue against higher education claim that school of hard knocksis more important in molding and developing an individual than taking a business course or being certified in CPR. Often individuals who have reach high levels in business or even the public sector claim hard work got them there without a degree or certification. Recently there is also the claim that for-profit universities and collegesdelude the prospective student into taking a college course so that they can increase revenues. Students are promised financial aid to help them not only gain a degree but also to help them pay for living expenses while in school. When the student realizes they are not prepared or even interested in pursuing the degree, due to the selling ability of the college recruiter, they find themselves unable to pay back the student loan and are worse off than before.
So is there a value in higher education?
Each individual must determine that on their own but one of the ways of doing this to determine the total amount of the loans you would accrue and determine how long it would take to “break even”. A break even analysis is something that new ventures use to sell their business plan to investors. If it takes you ten years to finally pay off the loans, is this worth whatever benefits you gain from higher education? Benefits of higher education include: promotional opportunities, possible increases in pay, employment is more likely if you have a degree, better qualification to operate in today’s environment, etc. The other consideration one must make is if you have the time and the organizational ability to do well in school.
Another consideration is the career you are pursuing. The career could be your current one or it could be a new career you are considering. One can use the online job database called O*Net. O*Net provides job descriptions for about 1,000 different primary occupations. Within the description includes the type of education required as well as the job demand over the next 10 years and salary ranges. This includes both the United States and any of the fifty states. This information is essential in determining whether or not higher education is for you or not. This information can also prevent you from going into a career that may be on the downturn and very difficult to enter.
Finally, you have to determine whether or not you are prepared for higher education. Many students are ill equipped for writingat the college or university level. Some individuals go directly into their career without going to college. When they are ready to go back, they have lost a lot of writing skills they gained in high school. Others enter college from high school with poor writing skills. Poor writing and math skills will make college difficult. So you must assess whether or not you have the necessary writing and math skillsto do well in college.
Yes there is value in education for some people and at the right time. You should take the time to determine whether college is for you or not and whether or not this is the right time.