BLOG: All Things Higher Ed

Should I go to college or get a job?

In today's society, earning a college degree often seems like the expected route to take after high school. But it's important to remember that there's no one-size-fits-all answer. The choice between going to college or getting a job is highly personal and depends on your career goals, financial situation and personal circumstances.

Not sure what to do after high school? Take a look at all the programs CMU has to offer.

Explore programs


Let's explore if you should go to college or get a job.

Why go to college?

Some high school students see it as a stepping stone to a prosperous career. Others view it as an opportunity to gain new experiences and broaden their horizons. College can be a place where you can explore different fields, discover your passions, and mold your future.

College builds knowledge

At its core, college is a place to learn. It provides a structured environment for you to gain in-depth knowledge in your chosen field of study. Whether you're passionate about history, biology, engineering, or art; college offers the opportunity to dive deep into your interests, cultivate critical thinking skills, and broaden your horizons.

College experience and personal growth

College isn't only about academics; it's also about your personal growth. It's a time when you can gain independence, develop time management skills, and learn how to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. It's a time for you to explore new ideas and gain valuable life experiences.

Fall day on CMU's campus.College prepares you for a career

Many people go to college to prepare for a specific career. Certain professions, such as medicine, law, engineering, and teaching, often require a college degree as a minimum qualification. College also provides access to internships, networking opportunities, and career guidance to give you a head start on finding a job in your chosen field.


College expands opportunity

College is a melting pot of people from all walks of life. It's a place to make lifelong friends, form valuable connections, and build a professional network. These social bonds can be crucial in your future career.

Building a professional network in college can provide access to job opportunities and internships through your established connections. Your network can also provide valuable mentorship, advice and insights that will shape your professional growth.

College is not for everyone

For some, college is a dream come true. It's an opportunity to pursue a passion, whether that's art, music, or literature. The sense of personal fulfillment that comes from following one's dreams is a driving force for many students.

But for many, college is not the right path; and that’s okay. Many fulfilling careers do not necessarily require a college degree. Some of these careers offer substantial pay as well.

Great jobs without a degree

Examples of jobs that pay well, and may require further training but not a college degree include:

  • Police officer – median salary of $64,610
  • Executive assistant – median salary of $62,020
  • Sales representative – median salary of $61,600
  • Electrician – median salary of $60,040
  • Plumber – median salary of $59,880
  • Wind turbine technician – median salary of $56,260
  • Firefighter – median salary of $50,700
  • Computer support specialist – median salary of $49,770

Education vs. experience

You can see that many jobs value experience for the practical skills and knowledge it provides. On the other hand, education offers theoretical knowledge and a broad understanding of a specific field. In today's competitive job market, having both education and experience can give you an edge.

Student researcher working in a lab.Does education make a difference in salary?

Absolutely! It is a major benefit of having a college degree. The more you learn, the more you earn. One of the key reasons many people decide to attend college is the potential for a higher salary down the line.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with a bachelor's degree earn on average 67% more than high school graduates without further education. That's a significant difference that can really add up over a lifetime. Advanced degrees, such as master's or doctoral degrees, can further boost earning potential.

When it comes to investing in your degree to attain a higher-paying job, it may not be as expensive as you think. For instance, each year Central Michigan University awards more than $55 million in institutional grants and scholarships. About 91% of their full-time undergraduate students receive some type of financial aid.

When weighing the cost of education and the return you may get, it's important to remember that salary isn't the sole measure of success or fulfillment. Many people find success and satisfaction in careers that may not pay as much but align better with their interests and values.

Should I go to college?

The answer ultimately lies with you. It's essential to weigh the pros and cons and consider what you want from your future. Remember, college is a significant investment of time, money, and energy. It's not the only path to success, but for many people, the benefits outweigh the costs.

Consider the career you aspire to. Does it require a college degree, or can you achieve your goals with vocational training or work experience? Some careers are more flexible than others in terms of educational requirements.

College can be expensive, and student loans can saddle you with debt. It's essential to consider your financial situation and explore options such as scholarships, grants, and part-time work to help cover the costs.

College requires a significant time commitment. Are you willing to dedicate several years to your education, or are you eager to enter the workforce sooner? Be honest with yourself about your priorities.

There are alternative paths to a successful career, such as apprenticeships, trade schools, or online courses. If a traditional college experience doesn't align with your goals, consider these options.

Your family and personal values can influence your decision. Some families place a high value on education and expect their children to attend college. It's essential to have open conversations with loved ones about your aspirations.

Should I get a job instead of college?

If you decide to get a job instead of going to college, there are several things you can expect.

You may feel free to explore different careers without the commitment of a specific degree path. This is an opportunity to try out different jobs to figure out what is the right fit for you.

Choosing to work instead of attending college means you will start gaining work experience earlier. In some fields, this experience can be more valuable than education, although it often depends on the specific job or industry.

By starting work earlier, you might be able to start earning and saving money sooner than your peers who choose to go to college. Opting for work over college also means avoiding student loan debt, which can be burdensome.

Do you have to go to college?

No. The decision of whether to go to college or get a job is highly personal. It depends on your career goals, values, financial situation, and personal circumstances. College can provide education, personal growth, and numerous opportunities, but it's not the only path to success.

Consider your options carefully, and remember that success is defined differently by each individual. Whether you choose the path of higher education or join the workforce, what truly matters is your passion, determination, and the pursuit of a fulfilling life.

In the end, whether you decide to dive into the job market right away or apply to a college like Central Michigan University, remember that learning doesn't stop after high school. Lifelong learning, in whatever form it takes, is the key to personal growth and career advancement.

Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Author: by University Communications | Categories: University Communications
The views and opinions expressed in these blog pages are strictly those of the page author.