People hear all the time about how the student loan crisis is getting out of control and how total student debt is now greater than $1 trillion and credit card or auto debt, but we rarely talk about what the students and their employers want.
Since a college degree is just a means to an end for most people — a means to a higher paying job for students, and a means to finding better candidates for employers — sometimes it doesn’t play its role as an effective tool that well. Sometimes it may be better to forgo college completely to get that better paying job.
Some hiring managers certainly think so. When directly asked, 64% of those polled hiring managers said they would certainly consider a candidate who hadn’t spent a day in college. On the other hand, only 2% said they were actively looking for graduates with liberal arts degrees. Rather than say the most important thing is what the candidate majored in in college, respondents said most important is a “cultural fit,” something that can certainly be learned outside a classroom.
Considering the weakening signal of a college degree, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Something that once signaled to employers that a candidate is an expert in their field, or at the very least a very hard worker, doesn’t do so when there are swathes of other people with that same degree. When you then factor in that liberal arts degrees — while providing an important way of thinking and learning for those who have them — don’t instantly signal a unique skill set, this trend should come as no surprise.
Job candidates aren’t so happy either. Between multiple generations, 33% of respondents said they regretted going to college and wish they had spent the time starting their own business instead.
This isn’t entirely surprising when you consider the costs of college. Beyond simple price, which is constantly growing, college comes with a huge opportunity cost. Four years of your life which has to primarily be dedicated to getting a degree cannot be dedicated to pursuing an innovative new project.
By the time you are finished, the ideas you may have had are probably already snatched up by another budding entrepreneur, or you’re too jaded to want to put just as much, if not more, energy into that project as you did the last four years. People then just want to get a job and settle down, having had their entrepreneurial spirit beaten out of them.
The trends are moving towards alternatives. Employers need better signals, and job candidates don’t want to spend four years and a boatload of money on something that doesn’t help them.