Ethan Pham, The Paisano.

Tuition prices are increasing at exponential levels and student debt is at an all-time high. However, according to PewResearch, millennials are headed towards being the most educated generation.

As career fields across the board are demanding higher and higher levels of education, many of us wonder, at some point, “Is college really the right choice for me? Do I actually need a degree to succeed?” The answers are subjective, but the general consensus is “yes.” However, it doesn’t have to be.

With the ever-rising threat of job loss due to automation, many millennials are considering skipping higher education and investing in learning a skilled trade. According to Product Design and Development Inc. those who work in vocational fields, generally, don’t have to worry about their positions getting replaced by robots; their jobs will always be in demand.

This, often times, cheaper alternative is great for people who don’t enjoy coursework, traditional school settings, and the corporate 9-5 gigs. Plus, the shortage of qualified workers to fill these positions gives the power back to the employees.

Overall, the field of vocational education is a viable, stable and cheaper option for those who don’t want to pursue a traditional college degree.

On the other hand, employers outside the vocational setting are raising their education requirements. What would be considered an industry standard 20 years ago, in terms of education, has dramatically changed.

A study conducted by Business News Daily suggests that even for basic managerial roles, many employers require the position be filled by a candidate with a bachelor’s degree. The days of  “working your way up the corporate ladder” from a position that mandates a high school diploma are over.

The trend of organizations demanding bachelor’s, and sometimes master’s or doctoral degrees, is a reality that millennials will have to face. So, if vocational education isn’t right for you, unfortunately, a college degree might be the best way to succeed in today’s workplace. At least that’s what the current workforce climate is suggesting.

Overall, a college degree is always going to be useful—especially if you aren’t going to pursue a career in a vocational field. Not only will it serve as a stepping stone in your future career, but also it provides an invaluable source of networking for future employment. Even if you aren’t sure what you want to major in, just make the first step by taking some core classes and, perhaps, a few elective courses. After all, a “useless” degree is never truly useless.

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