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Reader's View: Is a college degree still worth the cost?

It is often argued that a large part of college's utility is the "experience," as in the friends you make and the experiences you have.

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As the cost of a four-year degree rises precipitously, the college "investment" demands more thought than traditionally warranted. Of course, college's value has not always been its intrinsic substance in the workplace. It is often argued that a large part of college's utility is the "experience," as in the friends you make and the experiences you have.

However, let's table that ideation and instead consider the future utility of a bachelor's degree in the American workplace.

As restrictions lacken, workplaces reopen, demand increases, and supply struggles to keep up, we find unemployment rates hitting pre-pandemic levels (and multi-decade lows for that matter). The requirements for jobs naturally lessen as employers struggle to find qualified candidates, and salaries continue to rise as these same employers have to offer higher wages to be more attractive. On top of this, we see some companies (Koch Industries' apprenticeship program, for example) opting for early career training as an alternative to a college education — further lessening the "entry bar" in some sectors.

Yet, some of the country's most-sought-after jobs maintain a stringent entry requirement: a formal college education. To become a nurse, doctor, engineer (most disciplines that is), or social worker requires a bachelor's degree and oftentimes an advanced degree. As such, the rising cost of college continues to significantly impact individuals aspiring to these tracks that maintain their educational "decorum."

Where does that leave us? Yes, a back door is widening for certain job sectors that see an alleviation in educational requirements in order to gain entry — but other career paths see their educational tracks becoming significantly more expensive as they accentuate to industry needs.

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At a minimum, parents and teenagers alike need to break societal norms and question the utility of a college degree. It's an expensive decision to get wrong.

Aidan Jude

St. Paul

Related Topics: READERS VIEWFINANCE
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