Several decades ago, obtaining a college degree was a top priority for the younger generation, with most looking forward to attending college to be the first in their family to do it. But times have changed, and it’s no longer as easy for universities to sell a dream that doesn’t always pan out.
Older millennials who graduated from college during the Great Recession, which started in 2007, were among some of the first young adults to realize that a college degree didn’t mean they’d land the job of their dreams or any job. Millions of people lost their jobs at that time, while millions of others struggled to gain employment.
With easy access to the internet and a plethora of information available to today’s generation of teens and young adults, more are deciding not to go to college as they begin to see that it’s not a necessity. As a result, the average college degree continues to become less valuable.
Not All High-Paying Jobs Require a Degree
One of the reasons college degrees are becoming less valuable is that high-paying job openings are available for those without degrees. When people apply for jobs, they want to do something that interests them and earn a living wage. No one wants to spend years of their life in college only to apply for jobs and not get hired or end up with a job that pays the same to them as it does to someone without a degree.
In the past, there was a common misconception that it’s impossible to earn good money without a degree, but plumbers, electricians, cosmetologists, pest control experts, couriers, and dozens of other professionals are proving the world wrong. Many of these professionals earn over $50k, with some bringing in six figures each year. So, what does that say to those thinking about skipping college altogether? It says that it’s possible to survive without a college degree.
Lots of People Have Degrees, So It’s Not as Exclusive as Before
College degrees weren’t common a few decades ago, so when someone had one, it helped them stand out while applying for different positions. However, with access to student loans and scholarships, more people than ever before have attended college, and now a degree no longer holds the value it did before.
If a hiring manager receives 100 resumes from different job applicants and all have a college degree, what makes one person more memorable than the next? It’s the skills they possess, the knowledge they have, and the experience they’ve earned that captures the attention instead of the college degree.
More Young Adults Realize It’s Not Worth the Debt
Student loan debt is a massive problem for young adults. If you’re not getting a full-ride scholarship or coming from a wealthy family and want to go to college, you end up forced to take out costly student loans with high-interest rates attached to them. As people struggle with paying the loans off and feel tied down to the debt, the younger generation has decided they don’t want to put themselves through that. With more people choosing to avoid college because the debt isn’t worth it to them, college degrees will continue to lose their value.
A College Degree Doesn’t Guarantee Job Security
People used to think that as long as they had a degree, they were guaranteed a good job, but the pandemic proved that was a lie. Skilled people earning high wages were let go from their jobs in masses, left to seek unemployment benefits while wondering where to turn next. Now that people know job security isn’t a guarantee, even with a degree, they realize they don’t need to waste money or time going to college in the first place.
Many Students Have Cheated Their Way Through College
Have you ever come across someone who has a college degree but doesn’t know the difference between your and you’re, or they’re and their? You might see them write a “professional” post on social media riddled with errors, full of run-on sentences and grammatical issues, and start to wonder how they made it through college in the first place.
Sure, writing isn’t for everyone, but someone with a college degree should have the skills needed to write a simple post or the smarts to run their posts through a grammar checker before putting it up for the world to see. Unfortunately, the truth is that some of these people have cheated their way through college, paying others to write their papers and complete assignments for them.
The best part about this is that hiring managers realize that a college degree doesn’t necessarily mean a person is intelligent and skilled enough to handle specific jobs. Instead, it’s becoming a piece of paper that simply shows that a person decided to attend school for a few more years instead of entering the workforce upon graduating from high school.
Some People Without Degrees Are Earning More Than Those That Have Them
Imagine how it feels for someone who spent four years in college and racked up thousands of dollars in debt to see a recent high school graduate bringing in six figures on social media. It makes them realize they spent all this time and effort in school, studying for exams, completing research papers, and getting little to no sleep, only to end up in a job that doesn’t pay nearly as much as what some people are making without a degree.
Employers Aren’t Paying as Much Attention to College Degrees Anymore
Employers used to scan through resumes looking for those with college degrees to hire but have realized a college degree doesn’t mean much in most industries. Someone could have a degree and still lack the experience needed to take a specific role. They might have that degree but lack the common sense and critical thinking skills to help them excel at their jobs. With that in mind, employers are now focusing less on the college degree and more on what skills job applicants have and can bring to the table to benefit the business.
Young Adults Feel Like Time Spent in College is a Waste
Some young adults feel like college wastes years of their lives and are not wrong. You’re struggling to get by with a limited income, trying to work part-time while having enough time to attend classes and do homework, and you end up feeling overworked, stressed, and frustrated. Now that more people see college as a waste, they don’t care if their peers have degrees, which is good for those applying for jobs without one. It’s become easier to get hired without a college background than it has been in a long time.
There Are More Self-Paced Courses Than Ever Before
College is no longer the only option. There are so many fantastic ways to further your education and earn a certification in a field without spending four years of your time learning or wasting hundreds and thousands of dollars in the process. Many trade schools charge a considerably lower amount than colleges, offer self-paced or short courses that take less than a year to complete, and provide you with the certification needed to land jobs in different industries. Who needs college when you can go to a trade school to do something specific?
A Growing Number of People Want to Start Their Own Businesses
Working for others isn’t for everyone. You always have the option of starting your own business, much like the 31.7 million small business owners in the United States. If you have a passion for something, go for it. Sure, it might start small, but you can make it work and turn it into something profitable and successful. If you don’t take that chance, you’ll never know.
Millennials and Gen Z Aren’t Putting Up With Low Wages and Slave Work
Millennials and gen z aren’t willing to put up with hard work for low wages as much as others have in the past. While the older generation often felt like they needed to remain loyal to their jobs, even if they were underpaid and overworked, the younger generation begs to differ and isn’t afraid to quit on the spot for the sake of their mental health. Can you blame them? Some people go to college to become something that requires a degree, such as social workers, and they often still don’t make enough to afford the expensive cost of living. No one wants to work long hours doing stressful work only to get paid slightly above minimum wage while still having to pay off student loan debt.
The value of a college degree is decreasing and will likely continue to do so for years to come. A growing number of people have realized that a degree doesn’t always mean job security or high earnings, but it definitely means student loan debt for most. As the degree becomes less valuable, more employers will overlook education and pay closer attention to their applicants’ skills before choosing to hire individuals for specific job titles.
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