In confusing times, paradoxes dominate.
College is less needed (for some) and college is more needed (for many).
After the Great Recession, I started Career Counseling Connecticut.
I started working with twentysomethings throughout Connecticut as they navigated the work world.
Those who did not need college and succeeded in the work world primarily went into the trades (plumbing as the most likely to generate $) or the military. Yes, there were some who landed jobs in small businesses where a college degree was not needed and, of course, others who worked construction or in restaurants and bars. And, for those who were fit for such careers, they were fine.
But that’s not the reality for most twentysomethings from affluent Connecticut suburbs. Those who floundered and never finished college almost always had a rough time. Perhaps most obviously, the majority of students from East Lyme or Guilford or Madison or Old Lyme are not suited for the trades or the military. I can recall dozens of conversations with those who were adrift in the 18-22 year old age range who flatly said “no” when such options were mentioned. So those students were stuck in jobs that were not a fit at all or at least not a fit for a career.
The reality is that the work world is not kind to those without credentials. Sure, the outliers are always mentioned – the geniuses who did not need college and started companies or perhaps the highly skilled computer programmer – but most everyone is not that.
Most need credentials. A college degree is required for most jobs.
Given the turbulence of the new world of work – a less structured work world than ever before – it would seem that there would be more opportunities for those without college degrees (true but see above regarding geniuses and the highly skilled) but the better wisdom is to arm your children with the best education possible as they enter the highly unpredictable work world.