According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, only 46 percent of college students actually finish their degrees. Research also shows that college graduates ages 25 to 32 earn $17,500 more annually than their non-degree-holding counterparts. But, given the crushing cost of student debt and a slowly recovering job market, is a college degree really worth it?
The college degree debate
Today's career coach, Dean Chellis, gives the answer -- "It's not worth it for everyone." Chellis, who worked as a truck driver for years before finally obtaining a college degree, says college "requires hundreds of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses for things like tuition, books, room and board, plus potential additional costs like student loans. This can be tough if you don't come from money." But when it comes to getting the job done, education comes first. When you don't have the money, there's no reason to waste time and money. Some people also find it easier to pursue their education in the workforce. An anonymous student told Time magazine, "I didn't want the burden of going back and forth, while earning a degree to go back and forth.
Business ideas for those who don't want to go to college
Not everyone is suited for higher education. Learning skills can be hard and it can take years for someone to develop the right skills to find a job, especially in today's technology driven world. In fact, the median age for a first-time business startup has decreased in recent years. Businesses that started with a college graduate are increasingly starting with a high school graduate. This shift means that younger Americans are starting businesses more often than their predecessors. While the idea of quitting a well paying job and going off on an adventure may sound scary, the costs of obtaining a business education could outweigh the benefits. Since nearly 80 percent of all college graduates are over 25, they are unlikely to have the job security of someone fresh out of college.
Creating your own business
If you do decide to go to college, one option is to get a degree in business. According to Bespoke Post, business majors earn an average of $53,300 a year, which is 17 percent higher than the average salary for all degree holders. With college degrees not required to get entry-level jobs in most industries, the idea of starting your own business can be appealing. And with innovative startup companies bringing in a great deal of money, there's a good chance that your business will be successful if you can create an idea that people will want to buy. But the effort involved in starting and sustaining a business can make the prospect a little daunting for some students. That's where side hustles come in.
Working for yourself
Many millennials believe that they can make more money working for themselves than they could ever make in an office. And in many cases, this is true, especially for those who are creative and have the right skills for the job. "Getting paid to create something, write about something, design something – those are a real job and offer incredible benefits," says Paul Boring, an online branding and marketing consultant. However, a college degree still pays well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that college graduates earn about $1,000 more on average than people who don't have college degrees, for the same work. The dollar isn't the only thing that's important: A degree provides vocational training in the liberal arts.
For people who don't want to stay in a 9-5 corporate environment, freelancing may seem like the next best option. You get to pursue your own interests, work independently, and build a career that aligns with your needs. But it's not always easy to make a living as a freelancer. "Freelancing is a broad category," says Faye Froman, an advisor and relationship coach with Ideal Business Coaching in New York. "You're likely to have to carve out a niche, define your own work criteria, and manage your business independently." Fortunately, there are plenty of great resources out there to make it easier for you to succeed as a freelancer.
Starting a company
Let's assume you want a job that involves hands-on training and learning and a salary that can support you and your family. Can you become an entrepreneur and launch a business while working for someone else, or are you doomed to graduate school, hoping that your next mentor or boss will take a chance on you? Related: 26 Things You Need to Start a Business With (But Probably Don't Need to Be a millionaire) "I don't know that you can succeed as a business owner if you don't have college," says Dave Ismailer, the founder of Dos Equis, known for its ads that feature a single mugs of beer. "The way to avoid being an office-bound employee is to figure out a way to make money without being at an office. Businesses are all based around trade.