Going to college provides plenty of benefits for some people. For high school students, it might seem like the logical next step after graduation. For older adults, going back to school might sound like the perfect way to advance in your career—or to start over in a totally new career. But a college degree is not a one-size-fits-all solution for success in life. Sure, a college degree can open some doors, but not everyone needs a degree to have their dream career. And the truth is, it’s hard work, connections and relationships—not a piece of paper—that keep doors open.
Today, more and more people are wondering if they should spend the time and money to attend college when they can get a job that pays well without all the hassle and expense. Guess what? You don’t need a four-year degree to become a web developer, real estate agent or medical assistant. And it doesn’t take a college diploma to become an electrician or a maintenance or repair technician, or to work in dozens of other well-paying careers, either. These jobs all require training of some kind, of course. But you may be able to achieve your dream career faster and for way less money through alternative training, like doing an apprenticeship, taking free online classes, or learning a skill at a trade school.
While there will always be careers that require a four-year degree, and some that will require even higher education, it pays to do some serious research before you start spending money on traditional college programs—and definitely before you start taking out student loans. According to a recent survey by Payscale, 66% of people who pursued a traditional education beyond high school regretted their decision because of their choice of school, major, degree, student loans, etc.
Surprised? Those of us with a little less tread on our tires aren’t. If you’re thinking about going to college just because it’s what everyone else is doing, or because it seems like the only way to achieve your dream career, take a moment to think through your decision. Going to college takes a lot of time, and it could seriously impact your wallet now and for many years to come.
The idea that you can’t win in life without a college degree is a myth. It’s just not true. You have the opportunity to win in life whether you go to college or not. Just make sure you put a lot of careful thought, research and planning into the process. And choose the path that makes sense for you.
* Ken Coleman is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Ken Coleman Show and a #1 national bestselling author. He has been featured in Forbes, appeared on Fox News, Fox Business Network and the Rachael Ray Show. Since 2014, he has served at Ramsey Solutions, where he offers expert advice to help thousands of people every day discover what they were meant to do and how to land their dream job. Follow Ken on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube or at kencoleman.com.