Monday, May 11, 2015

Is skipping college a good idea?

Should high school graduates delay college?

When you first graduate from high school, it might be tempting to work right away for several reasons:

1.   You found a decent paying job and like making money.
2.   You didn’t like high school and want to be done with classes.
3.   You can’t wait to get away from your parents.
4.   You need to work to help support your parents.
5.   Why commit to all that time and possible debt when there are no guarantees of a payoff?

There is also proof that a few people are successful without it. Here are just a few names of people who didn't finish college.

Matt Mullenweg started WordPress

Dave Thomas, billionaire founder of Wendy’s dropped out of high school at 15.

Bill Gates, dropped out of Harvard University in 1975 to co-found Microsoft.

Sean Connery never got a degree. He grew up poor and dropped out of school to help support his family.

Oprah Winfrey had a scholarship, but gave it up to work in the media.

However, these are exceptions. Delaying or not going to college at all is a careful decision because more jobs are requiring four year degrees. If you don’t have one, it can make the job search more difficult.

I have to admit that after I got my associate’s degree the job hunt was so difficult that I started to think a degree of any kind was useless. Everyone wanted experience. But over the years, I have found that I’m better off not giving up on a college education. Yes, getting that first job is tough, but if you work hard it will happen and the key is to continue to work hard once you’re employed.

Even if you obtain a job that isn't what you want, you still have a better chance of promotion with a degree. I've seen it happen where I used to work. An employee who was there only a year was promoted over many others who had a lot of years of seniority. Unfortunately, a lot of people were bitter. They didn’t see why a piece of paper meant so much, but it was a requirement of the job. So if you don’t qualify, it doesn’t matter how many years you put in. I had an associate’s degree in computer information systems at the time, and this motivated me to go back and get my bachelors. Although, it was a hard choice because I kept thinking I was too old and that it would take forever. (I was only around 30 at the time.)

Which brings me to the’s harder to get the degree once you’re married with children and/or working full time. I went to evening/weekend college and studied while taking care of my toddler son. I remember waiting until he was asleep to study. It takes longer too if you can only take one or two classes per semester. 

You’re only fresh out of high school once in your life. This is a time when one doesn't have a lot of responsibilities, so make a careful decision if you want to give up this ideal time to go to college. Yes, college students don’t have a lot of money, but if you get it over with young you will be grateful.

I’m glad I stuck it out and got the degree. Not only that, but there is some satisfaction in being the only one in my family with a bachelor’s degree.

Lastly, I want to emphasize that college isn’t like high school. In college, you get to take things you’re interested in and therefore you might be more motivated. 

If you’re older and never got your degree, don’t think it’s too late or dwell on how long it will take. Nola Ochs was born in 1911 and got her degree in 2007. She is the Guinness World Record holder for the oldest college graduate.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She was ninety-four? That's impressive.
I'm glad I got my bachelor's degree right after high school. I was motivated because it was a private college and my parents were paying for it.

Pat Dilloway said...

My degree isn't doing much good now.

Chrys Fey said...

I didn't go to college for several reasons. As a matter of fact, I didn't graduate high school...I got my GED. It has been a touchy subject for me in the past, but I am proud of myself now. Just because you have a GED, doesn't mean you won't succeed. And just because you didn't go to college doesn't mean you can't make it big. :)

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

It's important to finish college. I agree with you that inertia of life takes effect and makes it very hard once you get established doing other things. I wish I'd have gone further with my education. A Bachelor's degree makes me feel woefully unprepared for later life.

Cindy said...

Sounds good.

Cindy said...

I don't know what your degree is in, but maybe go back and take a class to update skills. Most colleges have a job database too and they can help you with resumes, interviewing, etc. Maybe look into Baker and it's easy to get a student loan.

Cindy said...

That's why I posted the success stories. You have to what is best for you.

Cindy said...

It's not too late to get your masters if you really want to.

Julie Tuovi said...

I've often pondered this question... I'm a law school graduate, but I'm so jaded with it right now. Me and my fellow classmates graduated with gobs of debt and too few jobs to go around. It's possible that the market is just bad and things will pick up again in a decade... Hey, maybe I just missed the momentum! But most of the time I just wonder if it was even worth it. (Though I think it's still pretty important to do the undergrad thing, at least!)

Cindy said...

The debt is a big problem and makes the decision even harder.