We receive a ton of email and forum posts from young people asking about certification and how to obtain employment straight out of high school. In this featured article, we take a look at the reasons that one might want to consider college before jumping into the working world and why seasoned veterans might want to think about getting a degree or continuing their post-secondary education.
The reasons for going to college will vary depending on the individual and the type of institution that they consider attending. Below are many of the very good reasons that young people considering a career in computers should consider this route.
The most usual and obvious reason is because a degree can open up doors for you. Getting into the I.T. field is difficult when you are young with no degree or experience. Having a degree immediately puts you in front of many of the candidates applying for the same jobs you are.
Lacking a degree can create a serious barrier to career advancement opportunites. Someday, you will probably get tired of babysitting users and cleaning up their messes. You may wish to eventually take your bosses job when they leave (I.T. managers make good money). Many of these positions require a college degree. Below are clips from actual job descriptions right out of the job databases located in our Career and Jobs Section:
IT Director/Project Manager
Also required, 7 years of project management experience and an advanced degree in business or related field.
Group Manager/Director Network Management Education: BS in CS or EE required, MS preferred.
Manager Bachelor's degree required. Masters degree or higher preferred.
While not every management position requires a college degree, enough of them do that lacking a degree will hurt your chances of gaining this type of position.
Most colleges have a year or 2 of general requirements that will expose you to a wide variety of subjects and career options. These requirements will force you to develop a good general base of knowledge. If you go straight from high school into a career in technology, you run the risk of becoming a single-faceted person. Believe it or not, there is more to life than computers.
Do you really know what you want to do with the rest of your life at the age of 18 or even 20? I thought I did. The exposure to the subject that I received in college convinced me that I despised the career plans that I had made and probably prevented me from wasting several years of my life.
The average person changes careers 3 to 5 times in their lifetime. So you go straight from high school to a career in I.T. What happens when you decide that you no longer enjoy working in this field or find that you just aren't very good at it? You will have nothing to fall back on. If you have a degree, you should be able to easily transition into another field. Furthermore, you can always go back and quickly pick up another major or get a masters without having to start all over again.
College offers many opportunities to gain valuable work experience. For those new to the I.T. field, lack of experience is the greatest barrier to employment. Colleges often offer work-study positions running the campus computer lab, teaching assistant programs and outside companies typically offer internships that may even lead to a full time job after college. These types of opportunities are invaluable in getting the hands on experience needed to start your career.
Most colleges offer career placement services.
College can be very fun. Most people that have attended a university after high school will tell you that those were the best days of their lives. If you wait until you are older, you will miss out on many of the social opportunities that will create fabulous memories and possibly life-long friends. You may even meet people that can help you find a job after you graduate.
Nearly anyone can get access to higher education. Many feel that they can't afford college and assume that only the rich can go. There are excellent financial aid programs available for those who wish to go (in the U.S. at least) and there are a great number of people shouldering the costs of education this way.
While there may be other benefits that we have not listed here, in our opinion, these are the most compelling reasons to go. In the interest of playing devil's advocate we have included a link below to an article which presents a different opinion than ours.