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Inquiry Project: “Does Education Define Financial Success?”
I am a college student pondering upon the question “does education define financial success?” Upon asking myself this question, I asked myself to define “success.” Success is a subjective matter, a varying definition for each and every individual on this planet. Success is often connected with money and prosperity, and generally, people tend to believe that the more money you have, the happier you are. But success does not always need to revolve around monetary value. Success can also be defined as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Success is very personal subject where people set their own finish line. Today, we are raised to believe that through education, success can be achieved. But the question trying to be answered in this inquiry is, “does a degree and an education define financial success?” The world today is obsessed with degrees. Ever since childhood, families and friends heavily influence the developing mind of a child to attend a 4-year college and graduate with a degree. I am a Korean born in America, the first generation of my family, raised by fully traditional Korean parents. Ever since I first started school my parents constantly told me ““the only way to be successful in the United States is for you to enter the law or medical field.” They constantly
reminded me that I need to play a major role in society through a job with high authority or else I would be a “nobody.” Today’s society brainwashes the succeeding generation into believing that college is the only way to be successful financially. Going to college used to be a luxury before the turn of the millennium. College in the 1600-1800s was made for wealthy male individuals who wanted to further their knowledge in higher education. Only .001% of the people in the colonies attended college between the 1600-1800s. “Since a college education was expensive, and not a professional requirement, it is a luxury for the few and very wealthy” (Longmire & Company). College in the colonial era was not considered a prerequisite for any professional job and most workers attained experience and knowledge by being an apprentice and shadowing their mentors. The amount of money you made during this time period was not determined by the education you had, but the skills you possessed. Despite the lack of education during this period of time, there were still many successful individuals. Our very own 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, dropped out of school yet he is considered as one of the most successful and influential presidents of all time. “Abraham Lincoln, lawyer, U.S. president finished one year of formal schooling, self-taught himself trigonometry, and read Blackstone on his own to become a lawyer” (Toren). I believe that society brainwashes and heavily influences developing pupils in school to strive for a degree by attending college because of how the times have changed since the 1600-1800s to the present day. Today, there are more than 4,000 degree-issuing institutions across the United States (NCES). It is much easier to obtain a degree today than ever
before. Due to the large number of highly qualified individuals and low number of jobs, finding employment is an extremely competitive process and generally, the applicant with a degree will be favored. “In 2011, the unemployment rate of people with degrees was 5.3%, compared to people with only high school diplomas at 9.1% and high school dropouts at 12.5%” (College Degree Is Costly). Many jobs today require attending college and a degree as a prerequisite in comparison to the 1600-1800s. A degree will definitely boost an individual’s chances to make money by giving them priority in the hiring/evaluation process, but there are still many people who posses a degree and don’t have a job. On the other hand, there are many people who lack a degree and are well off financially. Ambition is a common key characteristic that successful individuals possess. In a Young Entrepreneur article titled “The 100 Top Entrepreneurs Who Succeeded without a College Degree,” presents a list of the most successful dropouts throughout history. A common trend seen throughout almost every individual is how passionate the person is about being successful. Every individual on that list has at one point provided society with a product that holds value. These zealous opportunists are often called “entrepreneurs.” “While there are certainly good arguments for both sides, it's a fact that a college degree does not necessarily guarantee financial success. And there are countless determined entrepreneurs who have proven that success can be achieved despite a lack of higher education” (Toren). You cannot assume that just because someone went to college and earned a degree, they will be well off financially.
Before you spend $40,000 a year and the next 4-10 years of your life in school after graduating from high school, you should ask yourself, “Is College really right for me?” Entrepreneur, philanthropist and author of Better than College: How to Build a Successful Life without a Four-year Degree, Blake Boles is confident that anyone without a college education can be successful and perhaps more well off than an individual possessing a degree. Boles begins his book, Better than College, with 3 propositions. “1. College is expensive. 2. College does not equal higher education. 3. You can give yourself higher education without college” (Boles 4-5). A college education does not come at a cheap price or any guarantees. If an individual spends $40,000 per year in college trying to acquire a bachelors degree, by the end of the 4 years they will have spend $160,000. Aside from the cost of attending a college, they will have invested almost half a decade or more obtaining their degree. Without an ambitious drive to successfully complete the required courses, the pupil is most likely to fail and will result in letting a chunk of their life go to waste. If you do not believe that college is right for you, Blake Boles suggests entrepreneurship. To be a successful entrepreneur, Boles highlights the importance of embracing one’s fundamental nature at a young age. He states that through proper networking and socializing, one is able to market a product with value and purpose that people want to buy. Blake Boles is a firm believer that education alone does not determine a successful life regarding finance. I agree with Boles on how he thinks that education alone is not a factor in determining whether you
will be rich or not. Although entrepreneurship is a risky industry, if it is executed properly, the returns can very lucrative in terms of profit. The purpose of this inquiry project was to address the following question: “Does Education Define Financial Success?” Success is a very subjective matter, varying from individual to individual. But when regarding financial success, it is solely up to the person to be ambitious and either pursue a degree in college, or successfully market themselves to create a product of value to society. Education does not solely determine whether an individual will be successful financially off or not, but rather the mental drive and passion of the individual themselves. In the future, I expect further reports of individuals who utilized entrepreneurship properly without a college degree to create their own fortune. Through research, utilizing credible sources, and considering the opinions and stories of successful people lacking a degree such as Blake Boles, I have concluded that a college degree does not solely determine an individual’s prosperity.
Works Cited Page
Boles, Blake. "How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree."TheHuffingtonPost.com. The Huffington Post, 02 July 2012. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.
Boston Globe. "College Degree Is Costly, but It Pays off over Time." BostonGlobe.com. Boston Globe, 07 Oct. 2012. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.
Longmire and Company. "Study of Parents: How They Evaluate Colleges and Influence Enrollment." Http://www.longmire-co.com/. Longmire and Company, 2010. Web. 20 Mar. 2013.
NCES. Fast Facts. National Center for Educational Services, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.
Toren, Adam. 100 Top Entrepreneurs Who Succeeded without a College Degree. Youngentrepreneur.com. Young Entrepreneur, 20 Feb. 2010. Web. 20 Mar. 2013.
Reflection The most interesting thing I learned through this inquiry process was that education is not necessarily needed to create your own fortune and future despite the fact that I was told every day by my parents that there was no way to achieve success except through college. I struggled on finding adequate resources and credible articles relating to my specific topic on education and financial success. I overcame this obstacle by spending a large deal of time researching and digging for relatable information. Yes my inquiry question began as, “Does education define success?” to “Does education define financial success?” I think it changed because “success” was too subjective of a term to work with and define in one essay. It is important to look at my historical view of my topic/question because it is an example of how education and colleges contrast from today. Back in the 1600s, education was not necessary to get a job as a prerequisite and had nothing to do with the amount of money you made. I believe that my analytical/evaluation skills have changed for the better as a result of this project because I was able to scavenge information more efficiently and quickly than before. I am most proud of this paper I have produced in this process. This paper is filled with credible sources and viable information on how college is not necessary to achieve a financially successful life. I would like to have my parents read this paper and change their opinions and thoughts about life and how the generations of young adult students are changing. I would like to know if there is an algorithm to entrepreneurship and how to properly create a product with value that will be lucratively profitable.
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