Is College Worth it?

Here we are; the question has made it to the Sunday Evening News. During the broadcast of NBC Nightly News, the topic of college requirements in the workplace was featured. The segment highlighted governments and companies that are waiving degree requirements to apply for jobs. Here are some of the additional points worth sharing:

  • Pennsylvania’s acting Deputy Secretary for Administration noted that it took her ten years to get to the level a person with a college degree would have.
  • Pennsylvania Governor eliminated the college degree retirement for 92% of jobs in state government. This opens up 65,000 jobs. He said he is “sick and tired” of this attitude and that you don’t have the requisite skills to succeed if you don’t goto college. He noted, “We judge you on your skills, grit, and determination.”
  • 65% of Americans over 25 years of age do not have a Bachelor’s degree.
  • 1 in 5 employers are relaxing educational requirements and opening up jobs that previously shut out skilled workers because of degree requirements.
  • IBM was one of the first to offer a skills-first policy back in 2016 and noted that 50% of their jobs do not require degrees.

I, like many, did not come from a family that had the means to send me to college. It was never a topic in my family. My mom was a secretary, and my dad was a drywall hanger. They both went to a community college as adult students but did not graduate and remained in these careers their entire lives. After high school, I decided to put myself through college, hoping for a better quality of life however juggled a full-time job and was left with student loans to supplement the expenses not covered by the grants I was offered.

How do we level-set the field to create career opportunities for those that do not have the means to go to college? While diversity, equity, and inclusion are in the spotlight, it would seem that college is the first place that serves to create inequality. While there are programs to assist with the cost, many high school graduates are forced to get full-time jobs to afford to live, limiting the opportunity given to those with means.

As I am in the hospitality industry, while education is coveted, experience is necessary. This is an issue that the hospitality industry is wrestling with now as college admission for hospitality majors is down. The bottom line is that even with a degree, you will likely start in the same line-level positions when starting a hotel as someone without a degree. While this is an unfair leveling of the playing field for those with degrees, conversely, it is a great industry for those without degrees to find careers.

It’s important to recognize that there are many paths to success, and college is not the only way to achieve career goals. By providing alternative pathways to education and employment, we can create more opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds and help level the playing field.

Thank you, NBC News, for starting the conversation. It is a conversation I have often had in the last few years as my children have explored higher education. Regardless of the means, college is not for everyone. I agree with the Pennsylvania Governor that grit and determination can get you further than a degree if you are loyal and committed to hard work in many careers.

Life as I Live it – L.

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