The great degree debate

For some, a college diploma isn’t a deciding factor

Kyra Eswaran, Staff Writer

The time we spend in the public education system is meticulously planned out. As soon as we are born, our parents start raising us so that we will be successful in school. In elementary school, we are prepared for middle school; and in middle school, we are prepared to be successful in high school. After high school, however, you reach a fork in the road. You can either pursue higher education, or you can stray from the common path and choose another passage to your future.

Whenever the time comes to make our “big and life-defining” decision, most people will tell you that you must go to college in order to be successful. However, the reality is that a degree doesn’t always determine success.  Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., never actually received a college degree; he dropped out. Jobs isn’t the only successful businessman to have not pursued higher education; neither Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy’s) nor Rachael Ray (published author and celebrity chef) obtained a college degree.

If you decide not to go to college, your fate isn’t determined by that decision. ”

— Kyra Eswaran

If you decide not to go to college, your fate isn’t determined by that decision. You won’t necessarily flip burgers for the rest of your life because you didn’t enroll at an institution right away. There are an infinite amount of possibilities for you after high school. A handful of these include taking a gap year, enlisting in the military, starting a business, or entering the workforce.

A gap year, according to the American Gap Association (AGA), is “an experiential semester or year off, typically taken between high school and college in order to deepen practical, professional, and personal awareness.” You can either take your gap year with an organization that plans it out for you, or you can take the challenge and plan it yourself.

A gap year is your year. You can do anything you want in that time, and it’s a great way to enter adulthood. You can spend your time taking a road trip around the country, or you can buy a plane ticket and backpack around Europe for a month.

After you take your gap year, you would enter college as an entirely different person with an entirely different understanding of the world. According to an article on, Bob Clagett, former dean at Middlebury College, said that students that take a gap year have higher grades than those who enter college right away.

For some, their future career doesn’t require any college at all. Those who plan to enlist in the military may never need to obtain a college degree, but can earn enough as some employees in professions that do require them.

If you decide that you’d like to start a business, you don’t have to have a college degree. As long as you either save up the money to get your company off the ground or get a loan in order to accomplish the same goal, you don’t need to attend an institution. It is rather difficult to start your own business, but it isn’t impossible. If you are passionate about what you’re selling and confident in its marketability, you’re already halfway there.

Whenever you receive your cap and gown, you’ll either know what you’re destined to do, or you won’t. It’s not a big deal, though. You still have the rest of your life to figure out what it is you want to achieve, and entering the workforce is not something that will decide your fate. If you enter the workforce and are absolutely content with your life, then you don’t have anything to worry about. You can be happy and successful without a degree.

If you enter the workforce and decide that you’d like to go to college later, you still can. You have the same opportunity as those who go to college right away, no matter how old you are. Community college is a great way to get back into the swing of school, and it is much less expensive than 4-year universities.

Depending on the profession you pursue, you don’t always need to go to college in order to be successful in life. College isn’t for everyone, but happiness is, and that’s all that really matters. Because whenever you reach the age when you look around and see everything you’ve accomplished and everyone you’ve met along the way, a college degree isn’t going to be the reason you’ve achieved this.