The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Viewpoint – Four-year degree not a necessity, some find alternative

By Audrey Werth/tr news editor

Society often assumes that all students must complete a bachelor’s degree to be successful. In reality, a college education does not guarantee success just as the lack thereof does not condemn anyone to a life of failure.

All of our efforts are channeled into getting students through their undergraduate careers. A degree is seen as a path out of poverty into the middle class. More people than ever are getting bachelor’s degrees. This creates an imbalance between the degrees we get based on perceptions and the actual demands of the job market.

The individuals graduating with these degrees must be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to make it in the world and be successful. The degree alone will not get them there.

Right now, many issues jeopardize the security of a four-year degree. Average student loan debt is nearing $30,000, causing more and more students to question their investments in a college degree.

Many graduates work in jobs either unrelated to their degrees or that don’t require a degree at all. Technology is also eliminating higher-skilled jobs.

The most reliable path to a decent job with good pay is still through a college education. Degrees are used as a common means of measuring the capabilities of individuals in the workforce. Employers make judgments based on the level of educational attainment an applicant has achieved.

But, it may be time to open our eyes to other potential learning paths.

It is now the case that many community college graduates with vocational associate degrees are earning as much or more than graduates with bachelor’s degrees right out of school.

Risks are involved when anyone decides not to pursue a bachelor’s degree or to put it off. But, risk exists in taking on student loans to get a degree.

A growing community of young people advocates the benefits of self-directed learning. They tend to focus on hands-on experiences in the fields they find interesting.

They seek out internships, travel, design their own projects and develop relationships with professionals working in their areas of interest.

They are proving the money most of us throw toward four years of college could be used to travel the world, start small businesses to get a career off the ground or invest in the future.

Their experiences out in the world shape who they will become and provide them with the necessary skills to succeed, rather than a degree.

We don’t need to eliminate higher education. However, it is increasingly important to recognize other ways in which motivated learners can gain knowledge and acquire the skills they need.

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