In previous essays, I discussed how the concept of primary education and the wide acceptance of the concept of “adolescence” have worked against the individual. While elementary education has belittled the concept of the individual, adolescence has kept students in a permanent state of childhood. And unfortunately, both have inhibited the sense of personal responsibility and individualism needed to gain a truly beneficial education.
But there is another aspect of our current education system that is stifling individualism: higher education.
Is College the Answer?
College has been the traditional route to success for decades. In order to be successful, one must get a four year degree in something “practical” so that they may be able to provide for themselves and their families. And while this might have made sense in the past, the situation has changed in our modern world.
As tuition rates continue to rise and the student loan bubble continues to inflate, many young Americans are looking for alternative solutions that will help them prepare for the future without going into massive amounts of debt before they have even begun their careers.
Certainly, a college education is still necessary for many looking to become doctors, lawyers, or academics, it is not the only solution when it comes to building a prosperous career.
In many cases, going into hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of debt for a degree can actually be detrimental to both your financial future and your professional career. For example, those spending their early 20s in classrooms and lecture halls earning a degree are missing out on years of experience in the workforce.
For those who do not wish to accumulate debt, and whose desired career fields do not require a degree, college is not the end all be all. In fact, before there was such a huge emphasis placed on earning a college degree, many Americans began their professional life the old fashioned way; through apprenticeships.
There Is Another Way
Currently, there are over 400,000 apprentices in the United States alone. For those who choose an apprenticeship over college, there can be many benefits, which include avoiding student loan debt altogether.
For trades and other vocational careers which utilize apprenticeships, there is also the advantage of being able to earn a decent living soon after you complete your training. For example, someone learning the trade of sheet metal may be able to make $50,000-$60,000 immediately after their apprenticeship ends.
Even with a college degree, many graduates must start at the bottom of the barrel earning low salaries while they work their way up the ladder. Combining the low salaries with monthly student loan payments can present many financial issues for those fresh out of college.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to gaining the skills and education needed to build a successful professional career, but for those who are looking for alternatives to the traditional collegiate system, apprenticeships can help you fast track your career without all the financial strings attached.
In the past, college used to the key ingredient for success. But the world is a very different place than it used to be. Now, skills can be obtained based on personal preference and what works best for the individual in question.
The world will always need doctors and lawyers, but it also needs a wide array of other specialized skills that make the market unique and prosperous. In order for individuals to achieve full and prosperous lives, they have to be able to pursue whatever makes them happy.
When college serves as a barrier to entry, rather than a vessel of education or workforce training, it does not help the individual grow. Education, like the market must be full of individualized options that allow individuals to create value and achieve a sense of purpose.