Is a college degree worth it?

Deep-seated in our minds from an early age, many of us have heard some form of the notion that in order to be successful, you must go to college and earn a degree. We’ve been fed this idea through our parents and family, our teachers, corporate requirements, and in various ways through the media, but is it true? Is a college degree worth it in today’s day and age?

There are some professions that will absolutely always require a degree, (i.e. medical professionals, scientists, etc.) but more and more big-name companies are no longer requiring one in order to be considered for high paying roles. While committing to higher education is an admirable trait, business leaders are beginning to take notice that applicants with little to no college education may still have the qualities or life experience that they are looking for. On the other side of the coin, are those with degrees being inflated with a false sense of security?

This subject is surrounded in controversy. But with student debt mounting, young people have to ask themselves: is a college degree worth it anymore?

Forty years ago, going to college seemed to be worth the investment. For many today, college just means an indefinite sentence of paying back student debt. Standard payment plans for federal student loans typically average 10 years. For many, the reality is more likely to be 20 years or longer.

Higher education clearly still has its merits, but we should approach the decision with care. Today’s 18-year-old’s are making enormous financial commitments just to earn bachelor’s degrees. They operate under the assumption a college degree will naturally lead to success. When they graduate, they expect to slide right into their dream job. They’re due for strong reality check. This false sense of security is a problematic inflation to the ego.

“False sense of security is problematic…”

Furthermore, college grads may find that it is much harder to apply their knowledge in the workplace. Some may even begin to resent what they went to school for – leading them to quit or to get fired! Meanwhile, a person like Steve Jobs, who dropped out of college, gets a chance at the same position. These types of situations do cast some doubt on whether a college degree is worth it.

Although they might be from a different walk of life, they excel at the job. Their natural talent and drive to succeed prepared them for the role. Conversely, graduates may find themselves working in a field unrelated to their area of study.

a scientific answer to whether a college degree is worth it

The Predictive Index (PI) states that there is only a 1%! correlation between job success and performance. A more telling predictor would be to look at one’s cognitive skills and specific behaviors. Companies like PI are pioneering methods that leverage assessments in order to increase the predictability of on the job performance – with success rates approaching 60%.

It seems troubling that recruiters and hiring managers still tend to scan over a resume for an average of 6 seconds, and with a significant focus on the “education” portion. A college-educated individual may appear to have the required expertise of a role, but can they use that knowledge to get the actual job done? In these instances where a person is hired solely because they look perfect on paper, thousands of dollars can be wasted on training an employee who fails and ends up quitting or getting fired. As a result, more companies are waiving the requirement of a college degree for many positions. In light of these circumstances, it’s easy to see why some don’t believe a college degree is worth it.

In 2019, information on practically any topic is available with the click of a mouse or the tap of a screen. People have access to more information than what is being taught in most classrooms today. Those who strive for success without the luxury of college are some of the most creative individuals and should not be overlooked. Organizations could all stand to benefit by digging much deeper into job applicants, rather than constantly passing up on those who are lacking in the “education” section of their resumes. The world is moving quickly, and employers need to keep their eyes open to those unique minds who can catapult them into a brighter future. We should think carefully about whether or not a college degree is worth it when many are succeeding without it.

Dig into the DNA

Wondering whether or not a college degree is worth it in candidates? There’s a better way to make great hires. Digging into the DNA of every candidate is more important than ever before. In order to properly predict if a candidate will perform well in a specific role and for a specific hiring manager, understanding their drivers and needs are non-negotiable. As a result, Qualigence developed the Core 4 Candidate Assessment Process to evaluate the candidate’s knowledge, behaviors, drives, and culture fit. For more information on this process; or for additional information on our services, visit