Bahr: Make your college degree worthwhile


Grant Tetmeyer/Iowa State Daily

Graduates file in for the Spring 2019 Graduate Commencement ceremony May 9 at Hilton Coliseum. The ceremony was for students graduating with a Master or PhD degree. 

Connor Bahr

If you are reading this, you are likely a student at Iowa State University. There are many reasons one goes to college; to get a well-paying job, to continue to learn, to start a career or, if you are like me, there was never another option.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Iowa State and I love what I do, but not going to college never crossed my mind.

Even when I had no idea what I wanted to do. In older generations, going to college meant almost instantly getting a job, and because of that, the idea that going to college is the only way to move up in life has been instilled in our minds since we first went to school. But is your college degree worth it? 

The simple, yet somewhat depressing answer, is not as much as in earlier times. Obviously, this changes with different degrees.

For example, degrees such as fine arts, ethnic studies, environmental studies, and composition all have higher rates of unemployment than other degrees. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 53.6 percent of graduates are unemployed. Why is this? For one, degrees used to mean more simply because not a lot of people had them. Because of this, there was a large push to go to college, and the majority of people go to college.

Simply having a bachelor’s degree no longer makes you stand out from the crowd. Not to mention the debt that one incurs from college. The average student loan debt is 32,731 USD in America.

However, I don’t think this means it is time to throw in the towel and drop out. There are many reasons to continue through college and finish your degree.

Because of the reasons discussed above, getting a well-paying job without a college degree of some sort is very difficult now. Even some blue-collar jobs require degrees from a trade school. College also teaches life skills like time management and critical thinking that will help you no matter where life takes you.

Finally, college is fun. As my father always said, you have your entire life to work, and college is the last time in your life that work doesn’t take the majority of your time. 

So what can you do to make going to college worth it? You have to do something to give yourself an edge over other degree holders. This could mean networking to secure a job before you even graduate, trying to find an internship at a company while still an undergraduate, working hard to get exceptionally good grades or joining extracurriculars like Student Government or other leadership positions on campus. 

College degrees are not worth as much as they used to be, and yet, they are needed today more than ever. This means you have to find other ways to secure yourself a job and live a life doing what you want to do.