The more things change the more they stay the same. That seems to be the advice that generation after generation gives about the value of a college education. It is always a good idea to go to college. At least if you want to enhance your chances of getting ahead in life, it is a good idea.
In today’s world, it may be even more important than ever before. Many honorable trades that paid well in previous generations are no longer an option for wide swaths of high school graduates. Some of these jobs still exist but not in the numbers previously required by the economy. Except for a fortunate few, the opportunities are to move up with a university education or to move down without one. There really isn’t much in the way of job opportunities in the middle any longer.
Unlike college, which is pretty much open to everyone, most of the highly paid trades of the past are now largely restricted to relatives of current tradesmen or the lucky ones that can capture a recommendation from someone already on the inside. In other cases, those jobs are simply fading away due to technology and public policy decisions.
While it may be more important to get a degree than ever before, it has never been easier to afford one. There are countless loan, grant, and work-study opportunities that put a college education within reach of everybody. Not only are there better jobs available in the new Knowledge Economy but they are better, higher-paying jobs that are totally portable. You can get your degree, move to wherever you really want to live, and have a nice job waiting for you when you arrive.
By way of example, Attorney Anthony O Van Johnson knows the value of getting a good education. As someone who started out by enlisting in the Army and then went on to a career as a professional musician afterward, Anthony eventually realized that going to college was the key to him actually fulfilling his dreams in life.
Even after two careers that did not require a degree, he went on to law school and then carved out a third new career as a trial lawyer. That gives him a much broader perspective than other pundits who simply tell you to go to college because that’s what their parents made them do when they got out of high school. In other words, he’s not saying that you should finish your education because you have to but because you are going to want to.
That is what the American Dream is all about. You want to get ahead in life. Absorbing the advice of countless highly paid experts and making priceless connections with other people who are on their way up the ladder is a pretty good way to manage your own climb towards success.
As Anthony Van Johnson puts it: “Use your head and get an education. I only wish I’d started sooner than I did.”