The topic of pursuing higher education (education beyond high school) has become a very controversial issue for my generation. An “argument” I often hear from people my age that oppose the idea of a higher education include, “College is a waste of money.” Followed by, “I don’t need to go to college to be successful.” And particularly where I grew up, “I’m just going to farm, and I don’t need a college education for that.” Before I get started, here’s some facts about American higher education:
College is a waste of money…
1. The median earnings for a person with a bachelor’s degree was 65% greater than those for someone with just a high-school diploma over a 40-year working career.¹
2. Those with associate degrees, typically earned in community or technical colleges, had earnings that were 27% higher.¹
3. The median income for families headed by a bachelor’s degree holder was $100,096 in 2011—more than double than that for a family headed by a high school graduate.²
College costs too much…
1. Last year half of all four-year public college students attended an institution where the annual in-state tuition rate was below $9,011.¹
2. The average tuition at community colleges was about $3,300 a year.¹
I can get a job without a college degree…
1. By 2020, experts predict two-thirds of jobs will require at least some education and training beyond the high school level.¹
My parents/grandparents didn’t go to college, and they are successful…
1. Forty years ago, only about 28% of jobs required that higher level of education.¹
And saving the best for last… “I don’t need a college education to farm.”
The real fact is, my generation is growing up in a different world than our grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. I am NOT saying that you cannot be successful without a college education. I know many people that are successful who never attended college. However, all the technology we use today in our farming methods did not always exist. The agriculture industry is constantly evolving, and we are growing more food in America today than we ever have, but that won’t always be enough. It is essential to our industry that we continue to improve and expand our knowledge in order to be successful in the long run.
I am thankful to have grown up in a farming family that places an importance on higher education.
¹ Blumenstyk, Goldie. “True or False: facts and myths on American higher education.” Oxford University Press, 2015. Retrieved from: http://blog.oup.com/2014/09/facts-myths-american-higher-education/.
² “Is College Education worth it?” ProCon.org. Retrieved from: http://college-education.procon.org/#background.
Pritchard, Forrest. “The Rise of the College Educated Farmer.” SmithMeadows, 2015. Retrieved from: http://smithmeadows.com/farm/the-rise-of-the-college-educated-farmer/.
“College Degrees Pay off for Farmers.” Ag Answers. Retrieved from: http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/AgAnswers/story.asp?storyID=1960.