July 2, 2020 in Exploratory
Having a College Degree vs. Not Having It

A popular saying notes that education is the equalizer of all men. Man, in this case, refers to both males and female. Thus, an individual’s ability to attain an education has the potential to make him or her equal to others. A boy from a less privileged background who reaches a specific level of education is deemed to be equal to his counterparts from a rich background. If they both have a high school diploma, they will be both looked at from the perspective of high school graduates. Therefore the level of education that one ought to attain forms an interesting topical debate. The gifted ones or highly determined can reach levels as high as doctorate level and others who do not perceive education to be very important argue that the high school level is sufficient. The average ones make it to masters’ level or at least the college level. There are quite a number of benefits for making it to the college level and ultimately acquiring a degree. This paper looks at the pros and cons of having a college degree to persuade individuals to receive one. 

Benefits of a College Degree

The first reason for possessing a college degree is that gives a person a better chance of earning higher salaries. It is actually the main reason why most people opt to spend four more years in school after high school. According to Baum, Ma & Payea in a College Board report, “4-year college graduates over the age of 25 showed median earnings that were $21, 000 more than the median earnings of high school graduates in 2011.” Their report further shows that a college diploma holder is expected to earn around 65% higher than their high school counterparts if they work for 40 years on a full-time basis. Those who are pro-high school diploma argue that going to college leads to additional monetary expenses and time wastage. The report reveals that “…by the age of 36, the college enrollee will have earned enough to compensate for the four years spent in school”. Thus evidence shows that those who have graduated enjoy more monetary benefits in terms of a higher salary than their counterparts in the long term.

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While working, nobody expects to remain static throughout their working life. After gaining some experience, a person should typically be given more responsibility which comes in the form of a promotion. Nothing gives an individual a better chance of promotion than a college degree. As a matter of fact, those with college degrees stand a better chance of being promoted than those without. “Ordinarily, managers and persons in charge of promotion base the exercise on employee motivation, quality of work and ability to get along with colleagues. But supervisors also consider whether or not the employee has a college degree”. The claim is that workers who possess one, are serious, have the ability to learn, and are capable of achieving the targets set for them. With increasing competition from the international front, employers are looking for persons who possess excellent communication skills and have the ability to learn quickly. They also consider individuals who have the steel to beat tight deadlines and are motivated. While acquiring a degree, a person nurtures these skills which imply that college graduates stand a better chance when it comes to both gaining employment and promotion. 

Knowledge is power, and the more one has it, the more he or she is empowered. Thus a person who goes to school up to the college level is more empowered than one who just reached the high school level. An individual who has attained a college degree is undoubtedly more knowledgeable than one who has not. Kathleen cites a 1998 report by the Institute for Higher Educational Policy which notes that besides the monetary and professional benefits enjoyed by college graduates, they also experience an improved quality of life, enhance their ability to make better consumption decisions, and a wide range of hobbies and leisure activities. She further notes that “non-monetary” individual benefits of higher education include the likelihood for post-secondary students to have an open mind, be more refined, reasonable and consistent in their thought processes, and be less dictatorial.”  Such positive traits are passed along to the succeeding generations.  A college graduate also tends to have less prejudice, be knowledgeable on current world affairs and improve their current social status. Thus, a college degree not only helps a person become better in the job environment but also assist the individual to become all-rounded. 

Counter Arguments

Those arguing against the importance of a college degree, cite the cost of college as a reason for their opposition. College education is indeed expensive. It is expensive in terms of both cost and time. According to College Data The average expenses in a public state college for the year 2015-2016 was $24, 061 while that of a private college averaged $47, 831. During a four-year period, one individual will spend over $100, 000 and $150, 000 in a public a private institution respectively. If those amounts are invested in a profitable venture, they are likely to generate more income. Also, the four-year period is sufficient for one to have gained a considerable amount of experience in a profession. Thus, a college education is relatively expensive. However, this argument is rebuttable. By the age of 35, the earnings of a college graduate will be sufficient to have covered for the lost time. For the next 30 or so working years, the college graduate will enjoy higher monetary benefits.

Another counterargument fronted by opponents is that it is increasingly becoming hard for a college graduate to find a job. College degree programs have become highly accessible, and the number of people with degrees is high. This leads to high competition for the available jobs and most graduates stay jobless for a considerable of time after graduation. During this jobless period, bills have to be paid among other expenses and the graduate becomes a burden to someone. To avoid this scenario, it is, therefore, preferable to them to start looking for a job after high school and scale the career ladder slowly. While this may be true, college is what one makes of it. The vigilant individuals use the opportunities presented in college to network and increase their potential to get jobs. 


College education has its pros and cons, but it is what you make it. It can be the best time of a person’s life, but that is only if one desires it to be so. An important point that has been raised above relates to the issue of money. It is quite expensive to obtain a degree, but it has also been demonstrated that the returns are sufficient. In fact, the amount of money one earns as a college graduate overshadows and debt acquired while obtaining the degree. Therefore despite the negative aspects, it is important to complete a college degree so as to enjoy the benefits which go beyond a higher salary. Statistics and evidence support this fact. Thus, no matter the stage of life a person is in, they should make a point of completing a degree course.


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