Lately we have heard stories of a few individuals such as Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who made millions of dollars in spite of the fact that they didn’t have a college degree. The writers of these stories use these few examples in their attempt to diminish the value of a college education. Yes, there are a few who make it without a degree, but why do we never hear these reporters tell of the millions of Americans who are stuck as sandwich artists and midnight custodial workers, living in poverty, and not able to provide even the most basic of necessities to their children, simply because they do not have the education that would allow them to earn a decent wage?
As an economics professor, I could bore you with graphs and charts detailing the labor shifts in our economy, but that really isn’t necessary. Anyone can just look around their neighborhood and see the facts for themselves. Who are the people on your street who are unemployed? Is it the people who went to college or the people who decided that college wasn’t really necessary? Who is it on your street that seems happy in his job and sees himself building a career – not just going to work? Is it the person with a degree or the one who said that college just isn’t worth it?
Here are the facts according to the United States Census Bureau and a Pew Research publication:
- People without a college degree are much more likely to be unemployed than a college graduate.
- One-fourth of all individuals without a college degree live below the poverty line.
- College graduates earn almost twice as much over the course of a lifetime than workers without a degree.
If you want to be secure in your job and make a decent living, college is by far the best option.
As technology in this country increases, the demand for skilled workers increases, while that very technology puts unskilled workers out of their jobs. Since this technology will continue to grow, the future for the unskilled is getting bleaker and bleaker. The few factory jobs that once provided a good living without education are being sent overseas, where workers are paid sweatshop wages.
Now, more than ever, you cannot afford to skip college. While education is expensive, a lack of education will cost many times more. If your lifelong goal is to ask customers if they want fries with that, you do not need college. But the fact that you are reading this blog tells me you want more than that out of your life. You just have to go to college. You can’t afford not to.
About the Author:
Kurt Huntley is a professor of economics at Sullivan University in Louisville, Kentucky. Prior to teaching, he gained a wide range of business experience. He has worked for Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller successful companies. Kurt has worked for the federal government and was a successful entrepreneur in the computer and food service industries. He is an artist with pictures in 14 foreign countries and one hanging in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. He plays keyboards in a local band and is active in prison ministries in southern Indiana.