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Why College is Overrated

Students attending a class in a lecture hall at college.
Is college overrated? While college is necessary for many professions, it may not be for everyone.

Going to college is one of the best ways to start your career and become an expert in a specific field of study. Lawyers, doctors, and scientists are typically required to go to college, which means it will be difficult to succeed in these fields without a college degree.

However, going to college certainly isn’t right for everyone. There are several drawbacks to going to college that you should consider before committing to a university and giving up the next four years of your life.

Continue reading to find out why college is overrated and whether or not it’s right for you or your children to go to college.

Why do people go to college?

In the United States, college is a great way for young people to connect with each other, build friendships, and excel in an academic setting. Below are some additional reasons why people go to college.

Higher Salaries

People go to college mainly to demand a higher salary after graduation and make more money. A college degree opens the door to career advancement opportunities and higher salary expectations than those without a college degree. 

Studies show that employees with college degrees get higher starting salaries than those without an equivalent college degree.

Additionally, advanced degrees such as MBAs and Juris Doctorates (J.D.) are often required for many upper management positions in most large companies in the United States and abroad. 

More Job Opportunities 

College graduates also have more job opportunities than students who choose not to attend college out of high school. 

A bachelor’s degree is a common prerequisite for many white-collar jobs today. Those without one may need to show equivalent work experience to qualify for the job.

However, it’s important to know that this doesn’t mean there aren’t any opportunities for those who don’t attend college. High school graduates with work experience may have access to more jobs in other sectors like construction and trade jobs.

Personal Connections and Networking

Students meeting outside at a college campus.
Many people argue the personal connections and networking you get from attending college are more valuable than the education.

Another significant benefit of going to college is that you can make personal connections with people in a similar field with similar interests. For example, students at top business schools may find that their connections in college come into play and open up doors in the future.

Colleges are also a hotbed for innovation among students. Companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Yahoo started while the co-founders were in college and grew into the major corporations we know today.

Many business schools also have business plan competitions where students compete against each other to see who has the best business idea. These competitions are known for producing high-growth startups and continued innovation thanks to the university.

Drawbacks of Going to College

While college certainly has plenty of benefits, there are a few downsides that anyone considering college should be aware. Hopefully after reading this you will be able to decide if college is overrated for you.

Financial Reasons

The most significant drawback to going to college has to do with financial reasons. The high cost of tuition continues to rise, and some experts believe we are approaching a bubble in the education system and that it will burst in the near future.

Additionally, rising college tuition is raising the debt that students carry with them upon graduating. In fact, Educationdata.org estimates there is over $1.7 trillion in student loan debt as of 2023, and this number doesn’t seem to be decreasing any time soon.

The cost of going to college isn’t worth it for many people. The problem is that most potential college students don’t see an alternative form of education that can help get them where they want to be as far as their career aspirations.

The Time Investment 

Another reason people think college is overrated is because of the time investment it takes to complete a college degree. Going to college can be compared to working a full-time job. Most students find themselves in class, studying, or collaborating with other classmates six to eight hours per day–nearly full-time working hours.

With all the time spent on completing a college education, high school graduates could enter the workforce or get their careers started in various training programs that don’t cost nearly as much as a four-year degree.

Job Opportunities

Surgery being performed.
While it is a necessity that surgeons and doctors attend college and medical school, there are many careers that do not require a college degree.

While a fair amount of corporate jobs prefer to see at least a bachelor’s degree from a reputable university, plenty of jobs will hire based on equivalent work experience. As long as you can show hiring managers your skills in a particular field, you should have the same chance of getting the job as other candidates with a college degree. 

Progressive employers may value certain skills that not every college graduate possesses. Some employers may want to see that you have an entrepreneurial spirit and aren’t afraid to take risks, while others may want to test your critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Many Students Don’t Graduate on Time or at all

Aside from Ivy League schools and highly selective institutions, most universities anticipate a large portion of their students won’t graduate on time or at all. 

Data shows that the average college graduation rate at four-year schools in the United States is only 60%. Additionally, the students that don’t graduate on time typically have to pay more tuition and invest more time to complete their degree.

Most Information is Online

Virtually all the information you learn in college is online and often available for free. This means you don’t need to spend a fortune to learn information that has been taught the same way in a college classroom for years. 

We can expect to see the appeal of online instruction increase in the coming years as people realize that they don’t need to be in a college classroom to learn about important topics within their field of study.

No Classes That Teach You About Money or Investing

One of the biggest drawbacks of college is there are not many classes that teach you about money. You will have hard time finding classes about investing, real estate and side hustles. Most college classes prepare you for careers that are jobs rather than teach how to start businesses and invest your money.

Most college graduates with a degree will end up working for someone else. There is nothing wrong with that. If you are comfortable working for a company for a fixed salary and benefits, college might be your best bet. However, college may not be the best option for entrepreneurs and investors. There is limited curriculum for those who wish to be become investors and real estate professionals.

Is College Overrated?

You may think that college is overrated for many reasons we discussed in this article. College is a major financial decision that impacts your finances for many years after you graduate if you have student loans.

However, college is typically the only choice for professions like lawyers, doctors, and scientists who are required to show advanced degrees in their field of study. 

If you find yourself outside of the select few where college is a requirement in your field, it may be smart to explore other options to set yourself up for success in the future.

Related: Biden Student Loan Forgiveness Explained

About the author: Ryan hovers around a 10-20 handicap any given day. But the talent is there, no question.