Is higher education losing it’s value?

Is higher education losing it’s value?

Evan Arns


For some, there is an expectation to go to college — almost as if it is a routine. For others, it may be a first generation experience. But, why is it important to go to college, let alone get a degree. What do you actually get out of it?

College prep classes will show you graphs and charts about the employment rate of those with differing educational backgrounds. Usually, we see lower income trends for those with a lower degree, if they have any at all. Those with a master’s or professional degree typically do well for themselves with a much larger income.

However, to me, the biggest question to ask yourself is: are you capable? Depending on your major and college of choice, education can be intensely difficult. As obvious as it may sound, Whittier College upper level classes are not designed to be easy. But that’s just it ­— this is when you ask yourself how capable you really are. Are you willing to put aside social time, family time, and possibly even sleep for a couple semesters from here on out? Realistically, some people may take a step back and go a different route, and that is more than okay. 

However, the pushers and doers in today’s society also face another question amidst the educational process: “What exact path is right for you?” After reaching out and talking with multiple young adults, I heard the same thing over and over again: if you know exactly what you want to do, reach out to that company/profession and see what they recommend. This counters the assumption in college that the degree is what guides you to your place in life. In today’s world, a degree is not the only option to get you into the professional world. It is the work experience and connections you have, along with the balance of your degree that will help you succeed. So, if you know where you want to be in life, a graduate degree might not be required to get there. Getting out with what is needed, which might be only a BS or a BA, just may prove to be more helpful in lining up a future career; the time (and money) spent on getting a potentially unnecessary higher degree can be spent on time at an internship or small company for that work experience section in your resume. 

Whittier College and Lancer Society alumnus Travis Airola said, “A career, nowadays, doesn’t look for the guy or girl with the highest degree of education. As a part of Flatiron Construction Corp. (a civil engineering/construction firm up in the Bay Area), what we look for in someone is their well-roundedness in what we do. Since I am one of the engineers who help assign and manage people to different tasks, I have a watchful eye for what is needed in today’s world.” He proceeded to tell me how he would rather hire someone with two years of work experience with a degree from a California State University San Bernardino over someone with zero work experience but with a degree from a more prestigious school like University of California Berkeley.

A degree carries a lot of weight, but it doesn’t carry everything. Money and time can be spent more effectively putting oneself out there in the field and making connections along with earning a balancing degree.