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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Do I need my degree?

A Carolina blue graduation cap rests in front of the Old Well on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

I sit in my ECON 411 class twice a week for an hour and 15 minutes learning about strategic games. And almost every time I leave that class I wonder, will I ever actually use this?

The answer is probably not — and I know that. I am fully aware that I will probably never apply a lot of the things I am learning in college in my future career. 

And yet, I am still here. I am still paying for tuition every semester. And while many would obviously identify the lack of logic in this scenario, very few would ask questions. 

This is because of the importance our society deems a college education. 

I went to a college-preparatory high school. If you were a senior, you were required to apply to at least one college. Whether you decided to go or not, they wanted you to have the option when May rolled around, and the piercing question of "what's next," overwhelmed your mind and monopolized family-dinner conversations. 

I have a friend who makes a full-time living traveling the world making TikToks, YouTube videos and Instagram Reels. 

She went to college, but was it necessary? Is a college education even necessary? 

Well, no. You can definitely find a stable job without a college education. However, given the option, is a college education the best choice when choosing to invest in your future? 

This is where it gets a little tricky. 

Many of you are thinking, well of course, it's always better to have more education. It will never hurt you. But consider this: 

In ECON 101 we are taught about the concept of opportunity cost practically on day one. This is the idea that, when you choose one option, there is a next-best option you are going to have to give up. This next-best option is your opportunity cost. 

If you choose to go to college, you are giving up the money you would have if you didn't spend it on a college education, in addition to the money and experience you would gain if you choose to start working somewhere.

I have another friend who dropped out of college. She was going to school in New York while managing a full-time job. The job and school became too much for her and she decided rather than quit her job, she would stop pursuing her studies. 

On the day that would have been her college graduation, she was meeting with the directors of Coachella. 

Do you think she made the wrong choice? 

Firstly, to my future doctors and lawyers: 

Sorry, but you need an education, and several years of it. I don't make the rules.

To my future entrepreneurs, influencers and business elites: 

You may be questioning the legitimacy of your education in this rapidly changing society. Would experience and networking be more beneficial than sitting in a classroom learning less-than-applicable information for your future so four years later you can get a piece of paper that deems you "qualified?" 

The world is changing, and our education system and the way we view the prominence of education needs to adjust with it. 

Many companies require a four-year bachelor's degree, and I honestly don't think most of them understand why they even have this requirement. 

Ultimately, I want to emphasize that success has no clear path. In spite of the views of my college preparatory school, you can be successful with passion, hard-work, some luck, and a little bit of talent. 

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Success isn't constrained to boundaries or limited by arbitrary qualifications. Degree or not, don't be discouraged by the track you are on. Pick your path, work really hard, and who knows; maybe you'll meet Coachella directors.