top of page

Should I Get a College Degree?

The first step to determining if college is a necessary pathway would be to map out your career plan, revealing your optimal career path. To do this, start with identifying your ideal job, and what skills, credentials, licenses, or education levels are minimally required to qualify for that job. You’ll want to chart this out, being as detailed and specific as possible. And whatever you decide to pursue should be narrowed down to a niche within your industry of choice.

Here’s a watch out, though. Sometimes people will determine what industry they want to work in and mistakenly call it a career goal, such as saying, “I want to be in entertainment.” Well, entertainment is an industry, not a job. For example, do you want to be an actor, producer, or entertainment attorney?

Understand, there are several types of employment with various qualifications that would all fall within the entertainment industry. So, make sure what you identify as your career goal is a specific job and not just an industry.

Also, when determining your ideal job, make sure it’s specific and not too general. You’ll want to avoid saying, for example, “I want to be an entrepreneur” or “I want to be a counselor.” Keeping your job selection too vague will cause you to miss the critical details necessary to map out your career plan accurately. The key here is exhaustively narrow down your selection to be as specific as you can. You may also find certificates or specialized certifications and training you can acquire instead of a college degree. Overall, properly doing this will help you determine if attending college should be a requirement for you or merely a consideration.

Here’s a career path formula that could help you narrow down your niche to avoid unnecessarily paying for college potentially. Complete this statement: I want to be a {insert ideal job}; and work, perform or provide services to or for {insert ideal company}; which specializes in {insert what the company does or

represents};. Basic requirements to land a job as a {insert ideal job}; in {insert industry or specialty}; suggests I need to be {list required competencies for success}. When further researching this job, I reviewed {insert an odd number of more than three}; industry-related job postings and most of the roles

minimally require {insert minimum experience and education qualifications for the role}.

Here's an example of what a response could look like: I want to be an HR Manager, and work for Delta Airlines which specializes in air transportation travel. Basic requirements to land a job as an HR Manager in the air transportation and travel industry suggests I need to be an effective communicator, strategic thinker, knowledgeable in HR, have strong integrity, and ethical behavior. When further researching this job, I reviewed seven different industry-related job postings, and most of the roles minimally require 5-10 years of HR Manager experience, and a bachelor’s degree in human resources management, business management, or in a related field of study is strongly preferred.

Use this formula as a guide. It will encourage you to research the role to discover if the desired job you seek requires any level of formal education. Based on the example above, we’ve learned that being an HR Manager in the air transportation and travel industry needs at least 5-10 years of experience with no college degree requirement. Had you not done your research ahead of time, you could have attended college with the mindset to become an HR Manager in this industry, only to find out the degree prerequisite is a preference for the role, not a requirement.

College may not be for everyone. Mapping out your career path helps you to confidently define your passion, determine the appropriate level of experience and understand the minimum qualifications needed for your desired role. It will also help you to avoid wasting time and unnecessarily spending money on tuition when you may already have (or can without cost attain) the required qualifications.


bottom of page