Is a four-year degree a good investment?

As the cost of college tuition rises and the national student loan debt crisis continues, making the case that attending a four-year college is a good investment is getting harder and harder, according to a PragerU video featuring Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA.

From government loans to impressive-sounding scholarships, paying for college sounds like no big deal. But then there’s interest on the loans (double the cost over time), which is a problem later on down the road students don’t always consider. On top of that, a quick glance at most of the majors offered and classes required can end up being a waste of time and money. Then after graduation, students are left with a bachelor’s degree that they can’t put to use paired with crippling debt.

But students—and parents—often believe that a four-year degree is the only ticket to a successful life. And while going to college can be a worthwhile pursuit, it’s not the right path for everyone nor is it the only path that leads to a well-paying and meaningful career.

So, how do we break this paradigm? According to Kirk, there are two solutions that will help us solve this fixation on four-year colleges as the be-all-end-all.

  • Ask yourself if you really need to go to college. There is an expectation that young people need to go to college. But maybe you’re not the academic type and the thought of sitting in a classroom for four more years is not the right fit for you. That’s okay! According to a Georgetown University study, there are 30 million jobs paying over $55,000 a year that don’t require a college degree. Learning a technical skill like welding, plumbing, or a dozen other trades will set you up for a lifetime career, as these skillsets are in demand and employers are desperate for skilled workers.The Center’s study, “No Four-Year Degree Required” highlights many of these in-demand careers in Minnesota that often lead to higher lifetime earnings than those of four-year degree holders.

  • Delay college for a year or longer. Waiting one year before going to college is not going to decide whether or not you will succeed in life, Kirk says. Graduating high school seniors not sure if college is right for them could get a job for that year and learn more about how hard it is to earn a dollar and how easy it is for the government to take that dollar away. That will most likely impact their attitude about college and help them avoid becoming a “passive investor.”

If you are weighing your post-secondary options and would like to learn more about alternative education paths in Minnesota and the successful careers they lead to, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter at