Are College Degrees Still Important?

In 2022, former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, announced that the state of Maryland would no longer require workers to have a four-year college degree to obtain a state job. In result, this leveled the playing field for a wider range of workers that didn’t have a great deal of options before.

“It is more important than ever that we work together to find new ways to build a steady pipeline of talented, well-trained, skilled workers for the jobs of the future,” Hogan said at the time of his announcement.

But over time, conversation has been brewing regarding this topic. With an almost 10% decrease in enrolled college students over the last decade, according to BestColleges, and more avenues to make money without a degree, a soaring question becomes more apparent: is a college degree necessary to be successful anymore?

First-year Frederick Community College student Menelik Bekure, 18, of Frederick, is a music engineering major.

“Is it needed?” Bekure repeated. “Well… kind of. You can gain really good experience without a college but also having a degree can benefit you depending on which career path you choose.”

Bekure isn’t in the belief that colleges offer some degrees that don’t matter.

“Having a degree gives you an advantage when it comes to raises or the type of salary you’re searching for,” he said.

However, some, like James Silver, believe a four-year degree has its benefits but isn’t necessarily necessary for a student’s success.

Silver, 20, of Frederick, is a third-year audio technology major.

“I won’t say there (are) degrees that don’t matter at all,” they said. “But there are a ton of degrees that don’t hold much weight though. …You can be successful with or without certain degrees.” 

The conversation doesn’t just stop there, of course. The workforce development plan to recruit workers has further added depth to the college-degree situation.

Elijah Kemp, 21, a photographer out of Hagerstown, added his input from the perspective of someone who decided not to attend college.

“I won’t downplay anybody who decided to pursue a college degree.,” Kemp said. “I feel, in a lot of ways. a degree is important. It’s just not for everybody you know.”

And, he said, there are people in the workforce who prove his point. 

“I don’t think a college degree is necessary to find success because we’ve seen tons of examples of people who paid their dues without a college degree, and when it was their time, a big opportunity came for them,” he said.

Kemp said he is an example where a college degree didn’t keep him from pursing his passion

“On my journey, I’ve been able to get my foot into more doors and even find mentorship that spread outside of my own photography business,” he said. 

Kemp even provided information of work he’s done with companies like Amway as an example to how his “burning why” found him opportunities.

“I’m able to seize new opportunities because of the resources I forced myself to find,” he said. “So, I’d definitely say a degree isn’t needed to have a bright future. But you should be smart and dedicated if that’s the direction you want to head.”

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