Tossing out the Old College Try

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Today, a college degree almost seems necessary for getting a good job since it has become an easy way for employers to weed through resumes. Despite that, people apparently can still succeed without a bachelor’s degree, as demonstrated in a recent article by columnist and Mississippi native Rebekah Staples.

These days everyone is touting a college education as the thing to pursue–despite the rising cost of tuition and the mountains of debt piling up on students. The difficulty is, a college degree now seems to be roughly equivalent to the high school degrees of days gone past. It almost seems necessary for getting a good job since it has become an easy way for employers to weed through resumes.

Despite that, people apparently can still succeed without a bachelor’s degree, as demonstrated in a recent article by columnist and Mississippi native Rebekah Staples.

Staples holds out her brother as evidence that the traditional motto, “A four-year degree is your key to success,” isn’t always true.

“I keep thinking about my own experience. While I chose the maybe-not-so-practical path of getting a French and political science bachelor’s degree, my brother decided a four-year university wasn’t in the cards. He got an associates degree from Jones County Junior College and, quite frankly, is the picture of the American dream.

Seriously, you guys – my brother has a fantastic house that’s almost paid for, a lovely wife, a few cats and a Great Dane, and he recently bought his second boat. A facility technician at AT&T (where he’s worked for nine years, though it was still BellSouth when he first began the job), Jonathan receives a competitive wage, full healthcare and pension benefits, and opportunities for regular and double overtime (cha-ching!).

Importantly, he did all this without having the so-called ‘key’ to success (a bachelor’s degree). I will also point out that not only did he skip the four-year college track, he also avoided the excessive student loan debt that often accompanies higher educational pursuits.”

Instead of pressing himself into the status quo mold, Staples’s brother harnessed his natural handyman and problem-solving abilities and took off in a job that suited him well.

Staples says many industries are looking for skilled workers like her brother, especially with the rise of “onshoring” as more manufacturing plants locate in the states. She points out that many southeastern states have favorable business environments for such companies, which could promise a “manufacturing renaissance” in Mississippi if there are enough skilled workers.

Apparently, many good jobs already exist in Mississippi (especially southeastern) for those with skills training but not four year degrees.

Staples says our mentality needs to change to take away the stigma of pursuing technical training over a bachelor’s degree.

“That’s what America – and Mississippi – needs more of: People like my brother who recognize their natural skillsets and turn them into meaningful careers,” says Staples.

That’s a good sign for Mississippi individuals who are willing to break out of the mold.

Source: Staples, Rebekah. “4-year degree not required to achieve American dream.” Capitol Chronicles. 17 Oct. 2013.

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