There seems to be a big push to send every kid to college, but is a college degree necessary in today’s world?
It seems like an issue that splits a lot of Americans, with half feeling like it is worth it and another half feeling like it isn’t.
There are quite a few well paid positions that exist for those who want to opt-out of getting a four year degree. In fact, Georgetown University compiled a list of over 30 million jobs that don’t require an undergraduate degree and they average paying $55,000 a year. Jobs in this list included areas that we may think of automatically like manufacturing and other blue-collar industries but there are also positions in skilled-services industries, such as healthcare, finance, and information technology. Previously there was concern that streamlined production and the use of robots may eliminate some of these kinds of positions, especially in manufacturing. However, the number of jobs available without a BA has actually increased over the past quarter century. It has increased from 27 million in 1991 to 30 million in 2016, and that is even with some of the reduction in jobs in the manufacturing sector.
What is especially interesting about this is that there are many young people who are exiting college with tens of thousands of dollars in debt and the current default rate for student loans is around 10%. The four year degree sets people back an average of four or more years for schooling and during that time their counterparts without undergraduate degrees are earning. Moreover, all of this is assuming that the student completes the degree; there are quite a few students who start college and have to drop out. This is the worst of all scenarios because they have lost time where they could have been earning and they are still stuck with student loan debt. Additionally, student loans are a pretty unique kind of debt because they cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and are debts that a lot of students are stuck with.
Be careful to carefully evaluate your or your child’s potential career options and look at ones that may not require a four year degree. It isn’t a decision that should be made lightly given the time and debt commitment that may be involved, but it is a necessity for some career paths.