What will earning a degree do for one and what kind of focus and effort is required on one's part to truly fulfill the purpose of higher education?
Earning a degree places you in a position of making you more eligible for higher-paying jobs but it doesn't guarantee your employment. I think a student who is contemplating college should closely examine the job market to see which careers show for future employment. While in college, a student show put everything they have into their chosen major, even serving an internship if possible. Above all else, don't get discouraged! Stay the course when job hunting; the right job will come along eventually, and if you're as prepared and trained as you possible can be, it will be worth the effort and wait!
A degree does not guarantee employment, but it is the lowest requirement for most jobs with earning potential. What degree you should choose is largely dependent on your goals, but even liberal arts majors (I am one) acquire skills that employers are looking for. There is also something to be said for self-improvement through learning for learning's sake, though that seems to be an unpopular notion in this day and age.
Typically, a degree will help one to advance in society. Given that many companies look for a college degree, one must have one to apply for many jobs in the market today. That said, a degree does not insure a position (as seen by the high unemployment rates). Even without career prospects, a degree does insure that the world will regard you as an educated person.
On the news recently, it was reported that many college students are coming out without earning their degrees, yet they are $$$$ in debt from student loans. So, college is not for everyone. As the previous post notes there are many profitable occupations in the trades--by the way, immigrants are now going for these jobs because American youth think they should go to 4 year colleges.
Taking the aptitude tests that the Armed Services offers juniors in high school is not a bad idea, for then one knows what one might be good at as occupations are suggested based upon performances on this battery of tests.
What is important about college is that one becomes educated and learns how to learn and how to think. These skills are invaluable and will serve one well in his/her personal life. Indeed, one's life is more rewarding as new avenues of thinking are opened. Being able to appreciate the fine arts and other finer things in life makes one's life so much better. One thing about a degree is that it always supplies one with a profession; so, it is great for those of us with little or no mechanical or artistic skills.
However, in this day and time, students should choose a profession that is marketable. For instance, there is a plethora of lawyers right now. Journalism may not be too marketable, either, as newspapers are cutting back on their publications because of the proliferation of news from other sources. Looking at the want-ads in city newspapers will indicate what is in demand.
The most important consideration is for students to be realistic about their desires and their abilities. Then, they can choose wisely their direction in life.
There are many good reasons to pursue higher education -- and many bad ones. If you are very interested in a career that requires a specific degree, you should get that degree. If you are interested in intellectual inquiry for its own sake, you will enjoy university. But if you don't really know what you want to do with your future, you probably need to take some time off and work. Universities have been around for over 700 years -- they will still exist if you take a few years off to decide what you wish to do with your life. If you are good at working with your hands or like machinery, there are really good Associate (2-year) degree programs and apprenticeships. Plumbers, carpenters, electricians, car mechanics, EMTs, and many other technical professionals are in high demand and make good salaries. Higher education is a significant time and financial commitment, and so you should make sure you are ready for it and focussed before you start, rather than investing time when you may not be motivated to do well or have a real direction.
For women especially, having a degree offers more choices which they need in case they find themselves one day as a single mom. So many women find themselves single with kids and going back to school because they either supported their husband's education before their own, or for some other life-chance situation. I'm glad I followed my parents' advice and got my education before I got married. Then, when I did find myself as a single-mom, I was able to walk tall with my head held high and get on my feet quickly. Also, professionals generally make so much more than the average worker that playing the odds just didn't sit well with me. Many people can make a lot of money in sales and even valet parking in Vegas, but I'd prefer to cozied up somewhere with a steady income that I don't have to kiss up to anyone in the process. Know who you are and get yourself certified in whatever you need to make you happy because without some type of license, certificate, or diploma, you might end up where you never thought you'd be.
The biggest asset I think a college degree gives you is choice. I know that I am qualified for a high powered job, and that my study helped me to develop the skills I need to hold down such a job. I also know that I can take a less stressful position if I choose. I have worked as a teacher, a deputy principal, a writer and a waitress. Each job has suited me at the time, and has been my choice.
In practical terms, earning a degree opens many doors in the business world. It may not insure an immediate high-paying job, but it does indicate to potential employers that you are able to focus on a goal commit yourself to hard work. This can get you hired before someone who does not have a degree.
To maximize the value of a degree, you should do some research and find out what fields will be in demand when you graduate.
In terms of the effort involved, I used to serve as a counselor to incoming freshmen and my advice was always this: there are three things any person can do in college. You can have fun, you can be well rested, and you can excel academically. You can pick any two, but you can't have all three and be successful. College is difficult, but the rewards are excellent. Be sure to research you career and look at how it projects in the future.
Earning a degree will be good for you economically and intellectually. A college degree is not a guarantee of a good, secure, job but college grads have much lower rates of unemployment than other people. A degree can also help make your life more rewarding because you will have basic knowledge in many different areas and will understand more aobut the world around you.