8 Reasons You Don't Necessarily Need A 4-Year Degree

No more pencils, no more books.

“One size fits all” may work for oversized novelty t-shirts, but it's not the case for higher education. It’s no secret that during the recession, a significant chunk of millennials found themselves overeducated and underemployed. Although the economy has started to bounce back and unemployment is on the decline, the conversation of “what do you do with a B.A. in English?” (Avenue Q) has persisted. Going to college doesn’t mean what it used to, and depending on what you think you might want to do with your life, it might be worth giving the idea of a four-year degree a critical glance before diving in. For many, a Bachelor's degree is still an integral part towards building a happy, healthy and successful career, but for others, there may be a better way. Here are 8 reasons you don’t necessarily need a four-year degree. 

1. Debt

From 2005 to 2015, the average cost of annual college tuition rose from $17,233 to $44,740 per year. Our parents and the government may have been able to foot the bill in the past, but that isn't the case for majority of Americans today. Eventually, our economy is going to have to do something about that debt other than avoid phone calls from Sally Mae. If future generations of high school graduates are unable to take on debt to gain a higher education, they’ll most likely enter the workforce directly after secondary school, shifting potential employers' expectations of requiring employees to have a college degree.

2. Buying Stuff Is Fun For You And Good For The Economy

By "stuff," I don’t mean the Coachella headbands you snagged on Etsy, though there is plenty to be said about the benefits of the shared/gig economy and the up sides of supporting small businesses (see #4 on this list). I’m talking about big and profitable purchases, such as a house. US homeownership is at an all time low, and has been for a couple of years now. Folks with significant amounts of student debt are less likely to take on a mortgage until they’ve put a serious dent on their pre-existing debt. 

3. Plenty of Successful People Are Drop Outs

If you’re looking for a throw line, look for folks with strong ideas, piles of determination, self-discipline and a general disregard for rules. Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg, Mary-Kate and Ashley, Bill Gates, Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group with a net worth just shy of $5 billion), Mark Zuckerberg, F. Scott Fitzgerald and, like a billion other famous people such as Ellen Degeneres, Brad Pitt, Ted Turner and Oprah.

4. Trade Your Degree for a Trade Degree

Many of the jobs that are available to graduates require a different skill set entirely. Trade school programs, aka technical or vocational programs, are generally two instead of four years, cutting the cost of a degree in half and letting grads enter the workforce a full two years earlier. Trade schools also have a lower dropout rate, plus The Obama Administration recently pledged $200 million to boost vocational education and job creation. #ThanksObama

5. It Works To Work For Yourself

Would you hire yourself without a four year degree? For many of us, the answer is yes. Working for oneself certainly comes with its own set of stress—it can be less predictable, requires its fair share of hustle and an extreme ability to self-motivate and focus. Starting your own business can prove a very viable alternative during a recession when job applicants are tired of getting lost in the hundreds of applicants for even low-skill, minimum-paying jobs.

6. Street Smarts May Be Worth A Thousand Words You Read In A Book

Many professions, including those in the artistic field, value practical experience over learned information. There are some studies that suggest that very little information is transferred in a college setting unless you count learning how to crush at a game of flip cup. 

7. Google It

Traditional forms of education are largely based on cultures in which education was only for an elite class of heavy-thinkers (think Socrates) or farmers (who needed a holding place for their children after the first and second Industrial Revolutions lessened the need for them as day-laborers). High-quality online courses are abound, so while the internet may be more bullsh*t than not, it at least alleviates the pressure of memorization with easy access to an insanely wide range of information online. 

8. Saved By The Bell: The College Years Sucked

Everythig I need to know, I learned from Zachary Morris. We can have our fun in four years, thank you very much. High school doesn’t need a lame-er sequel. 

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