Just How Important Is A College Education These Days?

08/11/2016 01:58 pm ET Updated Aug 12, 2017

As a college student myself, I constantly find myself wondering if I am wasting my energy and time almost every day. Falling into debt by the tens of thousands, and losing sleep almost every night is a big price to pay for a degree that may or may not make a huge difference. It's no secret that a college education is outrageously expensive at most four year schools, and many graduates struggle to keep their heads above water given the low entry level wages. Many more people are choosing not to go to college, or to start at the bottom of a company and work their way up, gaining knowledge and on-the-job training. The only problem is, most well-paying jobs require a college degree.

When it seems like most skills are learned on the job, it makes us wonder: what's the point of a college degree? Perhaps it shows potential employers that we are willing to invest in ourselves and have the discipline to finish our education, but does it really affect our job performance? I can't speak for everyone, but I know that I learn best when I am on the job, learning by experience and through situations that actually happen on a regular basis. Every company and employer is different, so why should a "one size fits all" degree increase our value as employees?

With online courses and webinars growing in popularity, educating ourselves is becoming more of a possibility, especially for online and tech careers. You can take classes on anything from marketing to graphic design right from your computer, at a much cheaper rate than college courses. More people are finding these are better investments, and they may even learn better in this setting. The creation of the internet has evolved the way education works in so many different ways, that us students have more options now. A spokesperson from ZeoLearn, an interactive learning platform, says, "Harnessing the power of the internet by utilizing traditional classrooms has given way to virtual ones." Virtual classrooms are more convenient for most people, and they have more flexibility on when and where they learn. They also are more likely to participate, and get valuable feedback from their instructors.

I'm pursuing my degree in accounting online, and I have taken online courses for freelance writing as well, and there is a huge difference. In my experience, the courses I have taken for freelance writing that were not offered through a school were way more beneficial than my accounting classes. I learned hands on, real life scenarios that have come in handy time and time again. My favorite part was that I took the class on my time. I didn't have any deadlines, and that takes the negative stress off of the task at hand. I found at the end of the course that I was excited and eager to get started on what I learned, and I found myself actively engaged and participating in conversation with fellow course-takers.

While the "higher ups" at universities may not be too thrilled about the advancement in online learning, it is great news for the rest of us. Those of us who have bills to pay on a limited income now have a better chance at expanding our knowledge and learning some very valuable skills. Hopefully this is just the beginning of a new era, and the online course world will keep expanding. I think that people will be more excited to learn if they get to choose how and what they are learning, on a schedule that is more convenient for them.