Posted on: October 14, 2014

College Degrees

College Degrees

As a lifelong advocate of education and higher education and as a university professor and dean, when asked by students, friends, or anyone else if a college education is still necessary for achieving success, my answer is always a resounding YES!
Although popular culture has disillusioned millions into thinking a college education is a thing of the past, and like any Kardashian, LeBron James, or even Bill Gates, it is possible to be widely successful without a college degree, what the media, television, and pop culture cannot reimage is how the success of these few individuals represents only a drop in the bucket in comparison to the number of individuals who have realized success because of their college education.  
Additionally, in spite of all their fame and fortune, too often individuals who gain meteoric success through their talent, notoriety, or infamy often experience greater difficulty maintaining their acquired, perhaps even unearned, success or effectively managing their success. Clear examples of this are lottery winners, child celebrities, or athletes who at one time accumulated great wealth and fame but were unable to maintain or manage the many trappings associated with the money or fame. Hence the old saying “A fool and his money are soon parted.”
Though successful people who gained success through their educational endeavors are not immune to failure, because of their academic training and exposure to a comprehensive education inclusive of the humanities, arts, economics, and sciences, college-educated individuals are more equipped in handling the nuances of success.
When you know better,
you are able to do better.
The ability to manage success and all its trappings because you are better equipped to do so can even be seen among those whose success may not be based on their education. Among professional athletes who have experienced great deals of financial success, those who manage to retire financially stable and to develop revenue streams other than their player earnings and avoid serious legal, financial, ethical, and moral issues are more likely to be college educated than not.
Redefining Success
Large salaries, expensive cars and homes, and other accessories typically associated with having money are only a few of the commonly accepted indicators of success. Others may consider being well known and having national and international notoriety as aspects of success. What few correlate with success is the aspect of sustainability—being able to maintain one’s existence, redevelop, and even redefine your existence as necessary. Unlike some of the other paths to success previously mentioned, success gained through a college education represents a truly sustainable form of success.
The first message college graduates emit is their ability to be trained. Through earning a college degree, employers are aware of your malleability and that your talents and abilities can be used in many different ways. College graduates have demonstrated they possess a spectrum of knowledge and understanding. The breadth of knowledge achieved through earning a college degree affords college graduates an added advantage in the analysis, comprehension, and problem-solving of complex issues non-college graduates typically lack. The process of earning a college degree is as valuable as the knowledge gained from the process.
In the U.S., having a college degree places graduates in the unique position of representing less than 27 percent of the entire population who are of age to be college educated. When examining the college- graduate trends among minorities and women, this percentage is commonly reduced to mid-range single digits.
As with most rare and highly valued objects such as diamonds, gold, and oil, a college degree is a commodity that is not only rare but one which also improves the student holistically. And for those who are considering the odds and looking to place a safe bet, statistically speaking, earning a college degree is more likely to provide you with a lifetime of security than having your own reality TV show, marriage, or even hitting the lottery.