I’ve been thinking about why it’s important to get a college degree for many years and have finally decided to write down why I think it’s important. I’ve heard many arguments over the years both for and against college. I’ll try and address those arguments here. I should point out that my arguments may only apply to those going into a technical field (Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering), but many of the arguments may apply to non-technical fields. Since I don’t fully understand these fields, nor do I fully understand the college experience for non-technical degrees, I am likely not qualified to discuss the related benefits or costs. Since many of my arguments will be based on empirical evidence, I believe my personal background is relevant. My career goals have been to be a Software Engineer. Computer Programming has been a long hobby and passion of mine. I started working as a Computer Programmer before I started college.
Since I was working in my desired field, I didn’t think that college would be that important. I did, however, decide to get my bachelors degree as career insurance in case I later needed or wanted to change careers. At the time, I didn’t think there would be much educational benefit (I felt I already had many of the skills and knowledge that I would need for my career), but it seemed like a good idea. Many of the advanced CS courses I took showed me that I did have a lot to learn from college and I continue to use the knowledge I gained from my undergraduate studies at work. A few years after getting my bachelors degree, I decided to go back to get my Masters Degree. Graduate school was more of a hobby than a career advancement strategy. I enjoyed reading papers and learning new things, and I wanted to get experience doing academic research and writing academic papers on my research.
Just like with my Bachelors degree, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I’ve learned while getting my Masters Degree. I’ve now graduated, and since my school work is done, I have had a lot of time to review my schooling and to think of the costs and benefits of my undergraduate and graduate work. Over the years I have heard repeated many arguments against college which I simply don’t believe are valid. Here are the common myths that I’ve heard along with my counter argument. This is simply not true. A degree is a certification from an educational institution that you have successfully completed an academic program. A degree is intangible, a diploma is tangible and is typically a piece of high quality paper. This is true, but the diploma is not really the goal of going to college. The diploma is a token that represents something of greater value. The diploma is nothing more than a certificate to show you have a degree. The concept of a token that represents something of value is not only limited to college diplomas.
Cash, paychecks, car and house titles are all just pieces of paper, but their value is much greater than the cost of the paper that they’re printed on. There is also a greater probability that you will be able to obtain the later pieces of paper such as cash, titles, paychecks if you have first obtained the first piece of paper a diploma. 3. Just because you have a degree doesn’t mean you’re smart. This is certainly true. I have met and interviewed many degreed Software Engineers who managed to make it through college without retaining much of what they studied. Many of these unqualified Software Engineers were even able to pass their classes with good grades. So, I completely agree that the process of getting a degree will not guarantee competence. I have also met and interviewed non-degreed Software Engineers who were also incompetent and unqualified. So if a degree does not guarantee competence then why bother getting a degree?