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With college tuition expenses rising, many soon to be high school graduates are trying to decide whether to invest in a college degree or go directly into an entry level job and hopefully gain experience and success through those means. The decision can have a major impact on a high school graduates professional career and personal life.

The Argument For College Education

Genius without education is like silver in the mine.

- Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)

After seeing the movie Super Size This, I try to avoid eating at fast food restaurants. However, the occasional fast eat out isn't that big of a deal for me. While there I casually asked about a job there. She looked at me dressed in work casuals and said they were holding hiring fairs on Tuesday nights from 5 to 7 pm. I asked if not being a high school student was preferred. She told me the policy says that you have to be either in High School or be a high school graduate. I asked what happens if a person doesn't have a diploma or a GED? She said unless your friends of the manager or franchise owner chances were you wouldn't be hired, than she asked me if I wanted an application. I nicely declined, as I'm not in any hurry to start my plans for retirement just yet.

It use to be that a business that does on the job training didn't require anything more than a reading and mental comprehending of his or her duties. However that has definitely changed.

Very few employees experience the solidity of working for only one or two employers throughout their careers. In fact, most employees who will be starting their first job this week will change employers a minimum of seven times before they reach retirement age. Because of the high turn over of employees, few companies can afford to invest in training employees for that do not meet the basic standard requirements. Consequently, it is now job seekers responsibility in developing their own skills in advancing their prospects for employment and for a future career. This consequence has sent college degree into a valuable favorable that justifies the investment.

The Argument For Work Experience

We learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction. - Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, 2005

Not everyone can afford to invest in a full time college education after high school. The lack of a college degree will not confine your career choices. Many professionals start their careers in retail sales, fast food and restaurant companies, customer service, or other positions that offer on the job training.

Although a college degree program builds critical business proficiency, few colleges can fully prepare students for the reality of the working world. In some cases, high school student graduates who had performed inadequately in high school find that they are first rate in the work force. Often, these employees find their new environment inspires them to succeed where as High School did not. Despite the ownership of MBA graduate degree, successful entrepreneurs have achieved success with only a high school diploma.

Benefits of Combining Both Worlds

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

- Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Critic as Artist

College programs combine work-study programs, internships, and apprenticeships with the college experience since both approaches carry considerable rewards. You may even find yourself required to seek out any number of professional placements while still attending classes. Each type of placement offers different advantages while all of them will help students establish a strong basis for success in their careers.


Interns work at companies with working professionals in their interested field on real projects. An increasing number of employers are now only accepting applicants from job seekers who have completed internships in their industry. Internships will provide a student with work experience in the chosen field of the college study and assists ready for hiring college graduates highly attractive for corporations after graduation. Various industries have opened up to formal internship programs where theory into practice. Some companies will even hire the interns after they graduate.

Work Study Programs

Every year, the federal government provides considerable financial aid awards to students in the form of work-study grants. The awards funded part time jobs on college campuses, so commendable students were guaranteed a stable, part time job to help pay for education expenses. It may take some college networking and research to locate the most compelling work study jobs that also include your college major interests, you can usually find a job that connects to your chosen career in one form or anther.

Co-operative Work Placements

In rapidly growing career paths, such as nursing, employers need as much help as they can get. Therefore, a growing number of colleges offer cooperative work assignments to help students gain paid work experience while still completing their degree programs. Students that take advantage of co-operative work placements can often start earning economical competitive salaries and seniority within a company. In addition, students can eliminate the stress and the uncertainty of the post-graduation job search.


In some industries, students must first complete an apprenticeship under the direction of a skilled supervisor before they can earn their degree, a license or a certification in their field. Traditionally, most apprenticeships begin immediately after a student earns their degree. However, colleges have offered extended degree programs that encourage students to begin their apprenticeships while completing their final few years of study.

The Online Option

Modern day technology has made online education flexible and accessible. Colleges are combining multiple aspects of online websites such as web interactivity with a more active mode of learning that requires students to continue to develop or sharpen their computing skills and take more responsibility for their own education. Furthermore, most colleges, universities and organizations worldwide, now offer their students fully accredited online degrees and continuing education programs.
Online enrollment has grown an astounding 33% over the past several years.


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