It is generally assumed that going to college is the best pathway to a lucrative and rewarding career—and there is no doubt that a college education is at beneficial in most cases. At the same time, while we wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from getting an education, the actual benefit derived from going to college differs from person to person, depending on both the school and the career choice. Here are some of the benefits of colleges, and some of the drawbacks.


  • Colleges, and more specifically the degrees they award for completion, represent a standard of achievement.  Earning a degree certifies you have a certain level of knowledge, which for many careers (like medicine and law) is still mandatory.
  • College usually gives students a more well-rounded education. Degree requirements usually include general subject matter not related to one’s chosen major, which may give more latitude when deciding on (or changing) careers.
  • College offers a social climate in between teen years and “the real world”, a transition many young people find helpful.
  • College offers a clear set of challenges to overcome. Even if you don’t wind up with a career within your major, holding a college degree makes a statement that you started and completed a major challenge, something that many employers still take seriously.


  • College uses a fairly standard academic structure for education that not every student thrives in. Dyslexics, for example, often struggle with traditional educational methods, where they thrive in alternative environments.
  • Not every career choice is best learned in an academic environment.  The traditional lecture/homework/testing system doesn’t always do justice to careers that are best learned by hands-on, real-life experience.  Even when those career paths are offered in colleges, the program often leaves educational holes that must be filled by internship afterwards.
  • The “well-rounded” approach of colleges can be counter-productive with certain technical careers. In other words, a more general education may sometimes mean a “less specific” one, again leaving educational gaps.
  • College is expensive.  Let’s face it; with all the benefits colleges can provide, tuition is very costly.  It is not unusual for students to enter “real life” with many thousands of dollars worth of debt, only to find their degree offers no guarantees of a lucrative career.

Do the drawbacks of colleges outweigh the benefits?  Not necessarily; it depends on the context and situation.  For some career choices, college is not an option, and chances are very good that the income generated will cover the costs. For others, though—careers like film, radio, the recording industry and others—colleges might not be as cost-effective and beneficial as smaller, more focused schooling, or alternative forms of education such as mentoring and externship.  The important thing is to determine if college is right for your particular way of learning and your chosen career.

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