Is Education Meaningless If It Doesn’t Lead To A Job?

The value of education is both a monetary and philosophical question. By law, minors must go to school until at least age 16 or 18, depending on what state they live in. So technically, once a student graduates high school, that is where the academic requirement ends.

However, many students will choose to continue their education at an institution of higher learning. They choose to attend college. For many, this is a right of passage, a mark of achievement, or a family tradition. The reality for many, though, is that they graduate and can’t find a job either at all or within their degree. So does this mean that education is meaningless?

What benefits are there to having an education?

Taken at face value, an education provides much more than just a degree. In fact, numerous studies show that an education, no matter what the degree, leads to better job opportunities and often better salaries. So if the degree is not the most critical aspect of college, what exactly is? Employers are starting to recognize that there are many facets to a person. And an education provides many of them.

Finishing your degree means that you stuck with something and saw it through to completion. This demonstrates character and a certain amount of responsibility. Both of these equate to all aspects of life. Your character is how you treat others, and being responsible is anything from throwing out an empty coffee cup to paying rent. These are desirable traits in society.

If you have finished your degree, you have also learned how to live well and coexist with others. Most students spend a good deal of their college years working some type of job. For college students, these jobs are usually as waitstaff in a restaurant, coffee shop, or retail. There is no denying that these jobs are hard, and dealing with customers is not easy. You can say that these jobs both humble a person and perhaps teach them a deeper appreciation for those who work these types of jobs for a living.

Studying abroad is another aspect of college life that has a profound effect on students. Traveling abroad and living in a country where you are not a native speaker is a fantastic learning experience. Seeing first hand how other cultures live and work is mind opening for many. Add to this the experience of having to make your own travel arrangements and figuring out accommodations, and you have another invaluable lesson. 

So what is the value of education?

If we determine the value of education based solely on the ability to get a job or not, we are missing the bigger picture. Education is much more than a piece of paper and 4 years.

Education is never wasted. Anytime there is an opportunity to learn and grow, it should be celebrated and experienced. Learning how to work independently, responsibly, and with others is a lifelong skill. Being able to appreciate others for how they live or choose to work is a lesson that should be learned by all.

Perhaps the real value of education is not in the job that is obtained but in the type of person that comes out.

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