There’s an age-old debate amongst people as to whether or not higher education is worth the investment. Truth be told, you don’t know much about life after getting a degree. You can’t predict the future or determine if you’ll 100% get the job you studied for. Ironically, the only certainty in a post-degree world is that you’ll have a mountain of student debt to deal with. 

This is why many argue that degrees aren’t worth all the money you invest. After all, that’s what you’re doing; you’re investing in your education to (hopefully) see a better future. Some say that you’re better off not spending all the money and avoiding all the debt. 

Is this true? Is a degree worth it or not? If you’re hoping for a simple yes or no answer, you’re not going to find it here! The debate is more nuanced and complicated than that – you must take numerous factors into account. We can, however, look at both sides of the argument to see what points are being made…

Yes, a degree is worth the student loan debt.

The general consensus is that degrees are worth the money you pay on one condition: there needs to be a job at the end of the course

You will find lots of college or university courses that lead people to jobs right away. Certainly, the medical field springs to mind. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are encouraged and pushed to apply for jobs while still on the course. It means they walk straight into work after graduating. Therefore, the money spent on the degree is worth it as you have a job you wouldn’t have had without it. Over time, your debt gets repaid and then some. 

The other argument is that degrees are worth investing in when they provide valuable skills you won’t find elsewhere. While they don’t directly lead to jobs, they put you in a position to be able to go after good jobs. A good example of this is a data science degree. If you want to know how to become a data scientist, you have to get a degree in this field. There are no other ways of getting jobs, so the degree is more than worth its money. 

So, when a degree directly leads to a job at the end or puts you in a better position to get a job, it is arguably worth investing in. 

No, a degree is not worth the student loan debt.

Yes, lots of college degrees help you get jobs or access career paths you wouldn’t have access to without them. On the other hand, there are countless degrees that do neither. 

If you spend thousands of dollars on a college degree that puts you in the same position you’d be in if you didn’t go to college, is it worth it? Sure, you still enjoy the college experience and may make connections with people. But, you have to wonder if it is worth being in so much debt for so long. 

This is the main argument from people against college degrees. Lots of good jobs can be applied for without a degree. More to the point, there are online courses or much more affordable ways of developing skills to improve job prospects. 

Is a degree worth it for you?

It all boils down to this question. Regardless of what other people think of degrees, you have to consider if one is worth it for your specific goals. Think about what type of job you want to do. Then, look at job offers or opportunities and pay attention to the requirements. Do they all state that you need a specific degree? If they don’t, you have to seriously question if it’s worth entering student loan debt. Why waste three or four years of your life – and thousands of dollars – on something that won’t necessarily improve your career prospects? 

Plenty of you may fall into this boat, in which case a degree could be a major financial mistake. Some of you may fall into a different boat. The careers or jobs you’re interested in may all have degree requirements. You might need a specific degree to even be considered for these jobs. As such, a degree will be worth its weight in gold. 

To answer the original question, a degree can be worth the mountain of student debt you end up in. But, you need to be sure that the degree actually provides something valuable and useful. If you can get your dream job without a degree, don’t waste your time or money.