Is a college degree still relevant today?
At a young age, I have always been concerned about how I'll be able to get myself a college degree. Coming from a low-income family, I know it is not going to be easy to achieve this goal. My parents have impressed upon me the importance of obtaining a bachelor's degree so we can have a better life afterwards, since they believe that a college diploma can open up countless employment opportunities for me. They're not particularly wrong since they know what it's like to be deprived of well-deserved promotions due to lack of academic credentials. They know that a college graduate will have better opportunities than those who didn't finish college even if his/her technical skills are inferior to his non-college graduate colleagues. Both my parents never finished high school and they grew up in the pre-internet era.
In the modern era, however, things have changed. People are more connected than ever and opportunities are easier to find, thanks in large part to the existence of the internet. Nowadays, you no longer need a college degree to get a respectable job especially with the rise of the BPO (business process outsourcing) industry in the Philippines which doesn't require applicants to have a college degree to get hired. Other industries seem to have loosened up on this college diploma requirement as well. As long as the applicant possesses the talent or skill to be effective on the job, he/she can get the job.
It is very inspiring to hear the stories of successful people who chose to quit college to pursue their dreams. Steve Jobs is a prime example. He dropped out of college but not before taking up classes on the subjects he's interested in like calligraphy, the lessons from which he later applied in designing some features of the mac computer. He figured that college is too expensive and may not be worth it after all. And he was right.
Had he not dropped out of college, we wouldn't have enjoyed the brilliance of the Apple products he innovated along with his friend, Steven Wozniak. Things worked out for the best after he left college and pursued his dreams. I have a deep fascination for Steve Jobs that after I read his biography, I was so inspired to live by his mantra, "Think Different". It's awesome how one man can inspire billions of people, my self included, to be like him and follow his footsteps.
Another lesson I have learned from Steve Jobs life is that everyone is unique. Each one of us has his own path to take, his own purpose to serve and his own life to live. It's easy to forget this simple fact and be engrossed in the magnitude of success Steve Jobs enjoyed without having to finish college. Just because it worked for him doesn't mean it will work for you too. Our circumstances are different.
College institutions and universities are not perfect. They tend to become, sometimes, the reason why many people downplay the importance of college education. Some people get into deep debt they can't get out of just to get a degree. Teaching methods are sometimes ineffective and even counterproductive discouraging students from pursuing their course.
In my opinion, college education is not for everyone. However, for most people, like my self, it can be used as a vehicle to get to where they want to go professionally. College can also be a great experience where you get to meet people that you can be friends with for life. It is where we meet our mentors who can guide us to the right path to take in our profession. It is where we can make all the mistakes in our chosen practice, and then learn and move on from it.
To answer the question in the title, I believe that, yes, a college degree is still relevant today but it should not be the only way to assess a job applicant's value or evaluate an employee's worth. Education is not only obtained from universities and colleges but from other awesome places and avenues as well.