I have student loans. Oodles of them. My mother elected not to pay for my education because she didn’t want to have to pay for a college education for all of her kids, which is somewhat ironic because I’m the only one of the bunch who went to college.
In exchange for my student loans, the payments of which eat up a substantial amount of our monthly income, I have a degree in psychology from a respected institution. And self respect and blah blah blah.
What I have to wonder is, what is really the value of that degree? I know not everyone goes the whole graduate-get-a-job-get-married-have-beautiful-babies-stay-home-with-beautiful-babies route, so maybe this isn’t applicable to anyone but me, but I am curious: Was my college degree worth the tens of thousands of dollars I paid for it?
Wes and I were discussing this the other day and are at a bit of an impasse. He went to college but didn’t graduate. He started off studying music composition, left school to pursue an internship, started working full time, and never went back. Then, when his sales career took a nosedive thanks to the economy, he went to a trade school, got the proper certifications, and now he makes way more than I ever will.
His education took him less than a year, cost a quarter as much as mine did, and he makes more than twice as much per year as I’ve ever made his first year out of school.
Obviously, Wes is not everybody (because he’s awesome), but if this kind of thing is possible, is it even worth it to get a four year degree if you’re paying for it yourself?
I suppose you could say that my degree enabled me to get a job out of college, and that if I hadn’t gotten that job, I never would have hated my job, started blogging, and then switched to blogging as a career. I have to wonder, however, if I wouldn’t have found blogging some other way. You certainly don’t need a degree to be a successful blogger.
The reason this is on my mind is, having one parent who graduated college and another parent who didn’t presents an odd example to our kids. I mean, can I reasonably make a case that it’s important to graduate from college when I’m no longer sold on the value of a college education myself?
(This is obviously not an applicable discussion when applied to careers that require advanced degrees, such as doctors, therapists, lawyers, brain scientists, etc.)
My degree was fun to earn, and I learned a lot, but I can’t honestly say that college prepared me for the working world any more than any of the jobs I held during school. I can tell you how to correctly cite an academic article in an APA style paper, but I have never used that skill outside a classroom.
What do you think? Am I just jaded by huge student loan payments, or are college degrees worth it?
This discussion is continued in part 2, which you can read here.