If college didn’t hand out degrees, would people still go?

I have to be upfront immediately and say I didn’t go to college. I decided to go to trade school for my specific career, broadcasting. The timing is ironic seeing Gazelle just had an article recently on some of the unpopular trade careers (plumbing, electrical, etc.) and he couldn’t be more accurate that those jobs are paying extremely well, because it’s work that people need, and not a lot of people want to do the work. Do you feel the old Principles of Business class yelling "supply and demand" yet?

I also would like to preface this by saying there is a massive percentage of people who enjoy and get the absolute most bang for their buck by going the college route, and there are also some careers that flat out require it. You can’t go to trade to school to be a teacher. I just happen to be fortunate that my trade did not require another four to eight years of education.

Now that I’ve gotten the potential easy rebuttals out of the way, here’s my take:

If colleges didn’t hand out degrees, a majority of attendees would call it their final semester and college enrollment would be at an all-time low. Yes, I’m aware the piece of paper is also the climax of college, but should it be? The whole purpose of that piece of paper is to say that you’ve acquired the skills, knowledge, and experience required to do a job properly.

I don’t have the numbers, but I’m going to sarcastically go on a limb here and say degree or no degree, whenever someone is hired for a new position, they require training, and yes, the college graduate may have some advantages another “Average Joe” doesn’t, but the differences are usually fairly small. Training success depends much more than anything else. A degree can't tell you how quickly someone will pick up new concepts or abilities. It just says they passed classes.

As an example, let’s say four years of school cost me $60,000 for all four years. Are you actually getting $60,000 in education, or are you really paying it just so you can have the piece of paper?

I have my answer, as stated, for a majority of students, I would estimate 60 percent (hence my majority claim) are primarily in it for the piece of paper.

What do you think?

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