Is Some College Education Better than None?

Having a college degree is certainly better than having only a high school diploma, but what if you end up somewhere in the middle? You went to school for a couple years but don't have a paper that proves you accomplished anything. What does that mean in the job market?

The Stats

Some college (but not degree) can still lead to higher earnings. Much depends on the individual.

Some college (but not degree) can still lead to higher earnings. Much depends on the individual.

Like most questions in the real world, there's not a simple answer but let's start with the statistics. According to The Hamilton Project, people with some college experience but not a degree earn $8,000 more per year ($100,000 over a lifetime) than people with only a high school diploma. Those with a bachelor's degree earn $30,000 per year or $500,000 in a lifetime more than high school graduates.

These numbers relate to the population in general, but what do they mean to you? The annual report from the Institute for College Access and Success shows that the class of 2014 graduated with an average debt of nearly $29,000. Add some interest to that debt and the pain of years of repayment. Will the education be worth it?

Only You Can Answer

The statistics paint the overall picture for the student population. How do they relate to you? You're an individual, not a body of evidence. It's your life, which will be improved by the right career. Now is the time to prepare yourself for it.

What will your resume say about you? Will it get you the job interview you want? And when you get to that interview, will you crush it?

A partial college education can be perceived two ways. Either you'll be seen as a person with more knowledge than a high school graduate or as a quitter. The difference is how you portray that in a cover letter and in person. Punch up the positive. You left school because you're ready to work.

Prepared to Go Pro

Look at the situation faced by the best college athletes. Will they stay in school and use up all four years of their eligibility before entering the draft? Or will they declare early and go professional after a couple of years?

Staying in school means risking serious injury and losing their shot at ever making it to the big leagues. As a junior, an athlete may be projected as a first-round pick. Then he blows out his knee as a senior and no one wants him. He just lost millions of dollars.

No one ever tore a ligament in their brain and was unable to become an engineer. Yet you can take on the same mindset as a potential professional athlete.

Clear Goals

Does the starting quarterback on a Division I football team wonder what he wants to do for a living? No. He has a singular goal of being an NFL quarterback. He'd be wise to have a backup plan, but his dream is clear. He wants to retire with money, fame and Super Bowl rings. Do you have the same focus?

You should. What will success look like for you? You need to know. If you nail your dream job, have a dream career and live your dream life how will that story read?

From your first day in school or even before, have that vision. Know what type of company you want to work for and stay in communication. Understand what they want and require from you. In order to achieve all the things you want, do you need a degree? Do you need graduate school? Perhaps you only need to be let in the door and prove you belong.

Find Your Future Faster

We encourage students to learn about themselves before making life decisions. Discover your strengths, personality and interests and how that corresponds to possible college majors and careers. 

Get started on your journey with Majors Matcher.