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Four-Year College Degree: Still Worth It?

By: Katelyn Six, Section Editor for Bloc[k] Beat (six1@uic.edu)

To be or not to be…educated – that is the question. With high unemployment rates and even higher tuition costs, the question on the minds of many millennials is this: is attending a four-year university still the best choice in the long run?

The debate rages on, divided between two schools of thought: those who are pro-college and those who are not. With tuition rates through the roof and an increasingly competitive job market with low-paying prospects, it is no wonder a number of recent high school graduates are opting out of the four-year university path.

Progressively, more and more young adults are choosing to pursue apprenticeships with the hope of obtaining employment in the trades immediately upon program and vocation school completion. John Dodson, UTI-Mooresville at NASCAR Technical Institute community and NASCAR team relations director, concedes that vocational schools get a bad rap because they are seen as “a lesser option than universities, a place where those who can’t get into a ‘real’ college end up.” However, he goes on to debunk this negative stigma, explaining that his students are “incredibly bright and would succeed in a traditional environment; however, they are passionate about career fields that we offer the world’s best training for.”

Nevertheless, the allure of a four-year degree appears to be alive and well today, as many students feel attending college is not a choice, but rather a requirement. Even after a quick Craigslist perusal, it is pretty clear that employers are seeking workers who possess, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. The LA Times confesses that, in the work force, a resume with at least a four-year degree is not just valued, but necessary, even for administrative and clerical jobs.

According to Business Insider, college graduates between the ages of 25 and 32 have average yearly incomes that are $17,500 more than people who hold only high school diplomas. What’s more, Reporter Alison Griswold believes the four-year university track is still the best route to take for young adults. In the article “Here’s Why A College Degree Is Still Worth Its Price Tag,” Griswold reveals that people who hold at least a bachelor’s degree are “significantly less likely to be unemployed, with a 3.8% unemployment rate versus a 21.8% rate for high school grads.”

Regardless of which way you slice it, the college education cake seems to be a bubbling bed of controversy for the millennial generation. Is a four-year degree absolutely imperative to attaining employment? Of course not. But, is it still highly valuable? Without a doubt. So the bottom line message here remains: Kids, stay in school.

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