As college tuition costs continue to skyrocket, more and more people are questioning whether a higher education is still worth it. Many argue that there are plenty of lucrative job opportunities available without a college degree, while others point out that earning one can open up doors to even better positions and significantly widen your wealth base. As this debate rages on, the question remains: is getting a college degree still worth all the money in today’s economy? Below are some stories we’ve rounded up to help you make your decision with a broader perspective.
1. They Open Up Higher Paying Jobs
One user posted, “They open you up to higher paying jobs, though the jobs may not be in the field you were expecting.”
One user replied, “I certainly wouldn’t have my six-figure job without my degrees, but I recognize I might be the exception.”
Another user added, “Lol, no, you’re not. Very few jobs will net anywhere near $100k (area dependent, of course) without a college degree. Some electricians and plumbers I know with 20+ years of experience have gotten close by busting their a- and putting in 50-60 hour work weeks, but even then, not everyone with the same experience is taking in that much. I wouldn’t have a six-figure-paying job without a degree either.”
2. Connections Above Experience, Above Degrees, Above Certifications
One user stated, “Connections >>>>> Experience >>> Degrees >>> Certifications.”
Another commenter added, “I think experience trumps connections. Connections can get you in the door for an entry-level job maybe.”
One Redditor replied, “1000%. There’s a guy I’ve heard of that barely graduated high school but hustled his [a-] off and now makes almost 200 Grand a year in IT with zero college. Also, he has the most beautiful eyes and the voice of an Angel. And he has a badass malamute. That guy’s name is Bruce. Long live Bruce.”
3. Shortage of Accountants
Even if you’re not aiming for a six figure income, there are plenty of jobs that simply require specialized schooling; and those jobs need to be done. Like accounting, for instance.
“We are having accountant shortage…so.”, exclaimed one user.
The OP replied, “Well, that’s what I’m majoring in.”
One user responded, “Keep going! It’s the best degree! Always jobs, never accept a job paying below $25/hr again.”
4. Economy Fluctuates; Education Lasts a Lifetime.
One user stated, “Before I had a college degree the most I could ever make was $47k in 2015. After graduating college in 2017, I made 51k for nine months and then 65k by 2018, less than a year after graduating college. I worked at the company for over three years and made $70k before I decided to get an MBA. I earned an MBA in 2023 and am now making 90k a year working pretty much entirely remotely.
“I have no solid connections in the USA, so education has been the only way I’ve been able to boost my salary steadily, and it gives me the confidence to demand more pay. And I feel like my work environment has improved as I improved my education. The economy might be bad at times, and good at times; it fluctuates. But the impact of an education lasts a lifetime.”
Another user replied, “How much debt? I’m not hating. I wasn’t in a position to get an education, so I took a different path.”
Another user commented, “There’s a lot of scholarships out there. I only have $20k of debt from undergrad that I chose not to pay off since interest for student loans is low.”
5. Affordable Education Is Worth It
One user raised a good point, saying that free education is always worthwhile. And while college may not ever be totally free, there are many ways of making it more affordable. Living with your parents and doing school online can save on costs, almost all colleges offer scholarships but so do organizations both related to your interests and hobbies, and probably in your locale, so look around. And for bonus points, if you’re able to be self-motivated, you can find lots of classes that you can study for independently and pass via exams such as CLEP and DSST. While they’re oriented towards active-duty soldiers trying to get an education during deployments, both programs are open to the public.
6. The Better Educated, the More You Earn
One user stated from a source, “Yes, by the following data. … Across degree types, it’s clear that, on average, the more education you get, the more you will earn. The biggest increase in salary happens if you complete a bachelor’s degree rather than an associate degree. In this case, you can expect to earn $15,500 more per year on average as a 25- to 34-year-old. If you look at the talk, a bachelor’s degree is worth, at the median, more than $20k a year than a high school diploma.”
7. Surviving Versus Thriving
One Redditor shared, “Yes and no. Do you want enough money to survive? You can do it without a degree. But in the long run, everyone says having a degree is very beneficial.
“Ironically, I dropped out of my university to work for said university, so I never got my degree. I have had no problems landing jobs and dropping out means I’m in a better financial situation now than my university graduate peers. But ten years later, when everyone wants to be a manager, I may be at a disadvantage of not having my degree (I might get lucky and use purely my experience). I do plan to get a university degree once I figure out what I really want to do.”
8. It Depends on Your Field and Your Goals
“The most annoying answer ever: it depends. I ended up with a humanities degree and worked a job that doesn’t typically require a degree, and if it does, it certainly isn’t mine. So I always feel like it’s kind of pointless (I don’t regret my degree one bit, though!) But I definitely have friends who graduated with me and have full-fledged careers now and have really started their adult lives because of their degrees.
“It depends not only on the degree but the person. My degree probably wouldn’t have gotten me far without more school/degrees, but I also didn’t choose to seek out any paths that involved using it. And people still comment on the fact that I have a degree, which implies I have specific skills and am somewhat trustworthy (I saw my degree through in less than four years, nonetheless). I don’t think a degree is ever pointless. But I also don’t think you need one to have a good life.”
9. College Is Good for Your Development
One user posted, “Money aside completely, college is good for your development and will open your eyes to the vast fruits of life, and even GEs and stuff will force you to learn silly little bits of information that may end up changing your life. If you can make the finances work (go to an in-state public university), I think it’s generally worth it for most people.”
10. Many Jobs Require a Degree; But They Don’t Care Which One
Another Redditor added, “There are tons of simple office jobs out there that just require you to have a bachelor’s degree that is roughly applicable. I have known people who got degrees that were just ‘for fun’ and then landed in jobs like this making 5-10 dollars more than minimum wage. Not bad.”
11. A Business Degree Is Widely Applicable
Another user shared, “I’d be very specific about the degree. For example, a business degree is pretty vague and, as a hiring manager, I’d want to see whether they are proficient with Excel and which specific classes they had. But if they had majored in accounting, they’d find a job fast. As for STEM—a major in biology is much harder to market than in engineering.
“If I were an incoming student, I’d start at the end and work back. What job do I want? What degree requirements are there? Which specific classes do I need? If at all possible, reach out to someone working in that field (maybe a friend’s parent, a neighbor, or your doctor or dentist – introduce yourself and ask if they could meet with you to discuss these things. I would be intimidated as a young person to do this, but it could save you tens of thousands of dollars and years of your life to do it.”
12. A Degree Doesn’t Guarantee a Job
“A college degree doesn’t guarantee a job. You still have to self-innovate and market yourself. This means things like your skills, networking, how aggressive you are with job hunting, etc., all contribute to a higher probability of getting hired. Also, if you do a job search for current office jobs, many employers still ask for a bachelor’s degree in terms of baseline qualifications. So you’re already at a disadvantage if you’re planning to work your way up the cubicle career ladder …,” one user posted.
13. It’s Not Necessary
While most people still consider college a no-brainer, it’s good to ask questions about whether it’s worth it, especially if you’re thinking of a post-graduate degree. Masters and doctorates are expensive, and you should be sure it’s worthwhile before you take on the financial responsibility for more education.
One user posted, “It’s not [worth it]. I have an MBA, and it only puts me in debt. No one cares about it.”
One user replied, “Should have done engineering.”
14. Pick a Proper Degree
One commenter said, “Pick a proper degree that leads to a paying career. If you are going to do art history, gender studies, then no.”
15. A Degree and Then Some: It’s Harder Than Is Used to Be
Another Redditor posted, “I think much of the issue lies in so many relying only on their degree and classes they took. The sad truth is college students now have to go above and beyond what previous generations had to for equivalent results. In the past, companies understood they’d take you under their wing and train you as you go if you’re a recent grad. Now, with degree saturation, mass layoffs, and job hopping being shared, there’s way more risk from the employer’s POV. Hence, entry-level roles require years of experience.
“So, is a college degree worth anything nowadays? It can be IF you pursue it more HOLISTICALLY to meet current market conditions. Of course, this can be easier said than done, and the below is assuming one studies STEM and Business:
“Develop Soft Skills: Often overlooked by STEM students. Many employers would instead hire candidates with potential cultural fit over a genius who can’t present their ideas well.
“Seeking out mock interviews helps a lot!
“Understand you’re learning HOW TO LEARN abstract/technical concepts. Being a good student has carried over into my professional life by being able to pick up things fast.
“Internships/Capstone/Major Projects: Good stand-ins for work experience on resume
“Networking: Take full advantage of career fairs, as well as with Professors. In my IT program, companies would reach out to some of my professors seeking top performers.
“If you’re at a ‘top school,’ bonus points on now having access to Alumni. This can be used as an in for internships and roles. Join Professional Clubs/Organizations Consider relevant on-campus jobs: can also be flexible around classes. Obtain Certifications as you go, and see if your college offers any access to resources like Coursera or LinkedIn Learning as part of tuition. Build a project portfolio of ones you’ve completed in courses and done on the side.
“Alternatively, if you are short on time AND Money, you could instead consider technical certifications that are in demand to get your foot in the door at least. For example, CompTIA certifications … for networking.
“TLDR: It all depends on your approach and efforts to meet the expectations of a more demanding job market. Gone are the days when you could literally knock door to door with just a Bachelor for an entry-level role.”
16. It Depends on the Degree
One user shared, “As always, it depends on what said degree is in. Gender studies won’t get you much, but bioengineering will.”
Another user added, “I’ve worked in oil and gas for over a decade, and I had no idea that geologists and paleontologists can easily make six figures working in the field. Even learning to weld can make you 45 to $60 an hour. Of course, schools don’t encourage this kind of study.”
17. A Degree Can Open up Connections
“I won’t say this applies to all degrees/jobs because I certainly agree a degree can open up connections to higher paying jobs, but my dad was in college for eight years for a business management degree … since he’s graduated like 12 years ago he’s had countless jobs he’s quit because he has gotten this mindset he should be getting paid more then what he does because he has a degree. On the other hand, I was in college for less than a year before I dropped out and started working because I hated school; since I started working, I’ve kept the same job for 10 years, and I have made more money than my entire family combined.
“Now again, I say I got lucky, and I know a lot of people aren’t as lucky, but if you already have a connection or already have something you know you’ll probably have a future with, then the degree is not necessary if you’ve already reached the top,” one commenter contributed.
18. A Degree Improves Your Odds, but It’s Not a Guarantee
One user posted, “Every I see people complaining about not finding a job, 95% of the time they do not have a degree. A college degree is not guaranteed, but it improves your chances of employment.”
19. Can You Make Money Going to College?
Another user shared, “In philosophy? No. In nursing, engineering, and s- where you can def go get a job.
“Research different states and the cost of education. I moved to California, and it was … near free. Actually, I made $$ going to college.”
What do you think of the opinions listed above? Share your thoughts down in the comments!
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