Friday, November 16, 2018


Is A College Degree Really Necessary For Success?

October 27, 2018 by  
Filed under Education, Opinion, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.comIn life, there are many different pathways to success and indeed, many different versions of what success looks like to different people. Unfortunately, we don’t get to have that Sliding Doors moment where we can see what would have happened if we had taken one route instead of another, turned right instead of left, or said yes instead of no. What we can do is make informed choices, with all of the information at our disposal. That allows for a decision that is objectively right for you, as well as emotionally or even spiritually. There are lots of alternatives and lots of unknowns, so make sure you navigate them to the best of your ability.

Consider The End – At The Beginning

It may not seem like the most obvious starting point, but beginning with the end goal in sight is a great way to begin. Your goals and priorities will guide you through life, so considering your end goal ensures that you select a route that will help you get there. This may be in the form of a college degree. It could be by doing an apprenticeship. It could be learning a trade on the job and gathering experience as you go. Only you can know what will best suit your talents and abilities. Research into the career arc you want – you could even look up the profiles of senior leaders in the sector you are interested in and take a look at how they got to their positions – the answers may surprise you. But you don’t always have to do things in a certain order. With institutions such as the University of Redlands online, you can complete a programme of study remotely, alongside working to gain money and experience along the way. Be clear about your motivation for what you are doing, and the rest can come from there.

Is A Degree Necessary?

College tuition is undeniably expensive, and for some occupations it isn’t actually required. If you wanted to start your own business, not having a certain qualification doesn’t stop you being the boss. You can set up you business working from home quite easily, and don’t have to pass any interviews. If you take that route make sure that you are still learning by taking short courses in relevant skills- both those related to the sector and in soft skills too, such as negotiating and time management. Then again some careers, such as medicine, are virtually impossible to get into by any route without a degree. Sometimes it becomes more of a passport – employers want to know that you have one, especially when it comes to management positions, but they aren’t too specific about the subject, so you are free to study what interests you. For certain professions, such as law, you can get to a certain level without taking the degree route, but alternative pathways aren’t always considered to be a direct equivalent, so they may only allow you to progress to a certain level. You will need to be aware of any limitations before committing to one path or another.

Balancing The Cost

Having a meaningful idea of the full costs of a college degree is essential before you commit to it. Not only do you have to account for tuition, but there are also the costs of housing, books, food, a social life and other living expenses to meet. You can access loans for the cost of college, but this means starting your career with debt, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Make sure that you understand exactly what your repayments would be, set against the average wave that you can expect to be earning immediately after graduation. Nothing is guaranteed, but it does help you to have a clear idea of what your finances might look like if you were to pursue it. Explore whether you might be eligible for any scholarships, but be aware that these will tend to depend largely on what subject you hope to study. Some employers may also part-sponsor a qualification, and also allow you to work at the same time, but again this depends a lot on the career you’re hoping for, and is more likely to be found on offer in sectors such as engineering.

Additional Study Benefits

Of course, although the obvious benefits of study are getting an education, there are so many other hard to quantify up sides to going to college. If you ask any graduate, the life experience they will have gained – being able to live independently for the first time, joining societies and clubs, the opportunity to be around so many people with similar aspirations and making connections that can last a lifetime, are all extremely important. The fact is, these experiences can be gained in other ways too. Going to college just because you’ll make friends is no argument when you can make friends through working, sports, the church and many other avenues. But if you do choose the route of college study, you may end up realising that the things you end up valuing the most have nothing to do with your study course.

Choosing The Best Route

Lifelong learning is a hugely important concept that can only enrich your life. But going to school full time is not the only option available to you. A more flexible way to get a degree may make it a much more realistic goal for you. You don’t have to move away, you could attend a local college while living at home, do your study part-time and combine it with working or other commitments or you could do it as distance learning at a virtual school. There are pros and cons to each approach depending on your learning style and personal circumstances. Make sure that what you choose is right for you. The ability to continue learning throughout your life is a hugely important skill and one that will serve you well in the years to come.

Staff Writer; Jason Baker


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