Why College Isn’t for Everyone

Dear Mr. Dad: My 16-year-old son has been talking for a while about what he plans to do after he graduates high school. Everyone in my family has at least one degree so I just assumed he’d be going to college too. As we’ve discussed his plans, though, it’s becoming clear that they don’t include college. I’m trying to encourage him to at least do some research on programs, look into financial aid, and start sending out applications. But he thinks there’s no point in it. How important is higher education today?

A: Pretty important—and getting more important every day. That said, the traditional 4-year college route isn’t for everyone—and it shouldn’t be. Let me start with the pro-college argument:

Right now, nearly 70 percent of high school grads go on to college. And I expect that number to rise as the world economy becomes more global and we find ourselves competing not only with fellow Americans, but with highly trained professionals all over the world. As the education level of the job pool increases, many employers who, a few years ago, might have been happy hiring someone right out of high-school are now demanding a college degree.

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