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As centuries passed by, education has been an important aspect of the society. However, there are some differing notions concerning formal education. College education is necessary for everyone who wants to have a job. Others say that college is just a waste of time, suggesting that anyone can succeed in life without necessarily completing proper education. Thus, this paper will discuss these two perspectives about education. Some questions that may be raised are: Is college education necessary for the life success? Is there any proof that anyone can succeed without it? What should be the right system of today’s education?

It is worth considering that the transition of a student from school into building a career is not a simple thing. The decision to get out of school and be a full-time or part-time worker is a life-changing experience. Decades ago, or even centuries, there have been young people who successfully made the transition and were able to take over the adult jobs (Hamilton, 1990). Nowadays, in many developed countries, work has already been a common pattern of daily life to everyone, even to high school (secondary level) students. Since they are somehow able to do some jobs, many high school students already choose to be the part of their country’s labor force.

However, uneducated workers are only appointed into unskilled or semiskilled jobs, such as in farms and factories. Much worse than this, they are not only given limited jobs, but also jobs that are not very much rewarding as career jobs do. This is one negative reality in working without proper education. It is because either the companies that hire them require higher academic attainment, or the laborers still lack enough skills to do jobs better. Most vocational jobs require specialization in a certain field, which gives disadvantage to those who have incomplete education. It is said that many job operations will be put to risk, if the workers are unskilled or uneducated. Statistics also shows that workers who have low level of educational attainment are given only limited employment gains. In some countries, workers are to expect limited benefits, in spite of longer experiences in the labor market, if he/she does not have minimal educational certification (OECD & CPRN, 2005). Hence, that is the nature of the job for people lacking formal education. With limited and less rewarding jobs, they mostly are not at all able to build a career to provide for a family, or even attain financial security.  

These observations on the nature of work of uneducated laborers raise the general idea of the need for complete education, in order to have financial success in life. As a proponent of education, Dewey stresses the view that education has a great part in the full development of an individual’s potential to share in the common task of shaping human society (Hart, 1992). Formal education is intended to impart in a person values, such as moral appropriateness – right attitudes, behavior, character and personality, essential to productivity and great performance at work; such norms as promptness, achievement, competitiveness, justice, merit and respect are instilled in an individual through education (Hamilton, 1990).

The schools that spread throughout the world were intended to prepare an individual for the future; perhaps, to train for various categories of work – developing all aspects of the person. Moreover, Roland Kotulak’s study affirms that education is needed to hone not just the moral and intellectual factor of a person, but even the psychological factor. He says in his study of the human mind, that education is essential for the stability of one’s mind in the midst of economic challenges. Roland (1997) notes:

“Without education you have more economic problems and other worries, and   you don’t have as many means to cope with those stresses.”

These considerations show that uneducated persons have great disadvantages in terms of success at work – perhaps, in building their career. The difficulty to cope with economic challenges, the limitation of work benefits, the great possibility of unemployment – these are the sad issues of having no education or incomplete training in school. Education is necessary for a person to become a physically, intellectually, psychologically and morally stable citizen of his/her country.

Nevertheless, many people still affirm that having incomplete education is not the big issue in having success in life. Their idea states that success depends on how the person will build his/her career. However, one should take into consideration why some are not in favor of having complete education (especially college education).

There is, of course, a need to go into college education, if a student wants to pursue medicine, science, engineering or education (Vivatson, 2010). There is a great assurance that one will never be able to learn these fields without the guidance and advice of the college mentors, who spent time studying these disciplines for the purpose of teaching and training students on such fields. However, one problem in today’s educational system is the inclusion of non-related subjects. For instance, they are taught about good communication or some social issues, like family planning, but these things can be taught even outside the school. Everyone can know how to communicate well by just talking to people around – especially those who are professionals. Thus, the seemingly negative result is that students’ understanding of their career will be mixed with other unnecessary ideas. Instead of focusing on the career they pursue, many students are given additional burden of making time studying some irrelevant subjects – even if they are not worth studying at all. Another negative result is that the time a student will spend in college is being lengthened – which also leads to higher payment of tuition fees. If students are only required to study relevant subjects – thus, making them finish education earlier – then they will already be able to take jobs and start building their lifetime careers. With this, probably many will choose to finish education to have higher qualification in the labor market.

This is a sad reality: inclusion of not-so-relevant subjects which make education too long. Many people, therefore, view college as just a waste of time. They no longer have the intense desire to finish higher education; instead, they go straight to having jobs, trying hard to build careers for their future. Thus, many people affirm that formal education, particularly college, is just a “waste of time”.

Now this is the truth which supports the idea that education doesn’t determine one’s success in life – this is the people who were school drop outs, but still made it to the top. There are countless entrepreneurs, actors/actresses, political leaders, authors, directors, critics, designers, and more who prove that success does not merely depend on having complete education. It is a fact that a college degree does not assure success (“100 Top Entrepreneurs,” 2010). For example, Abraham Lincoln completed only one year of formal education, yet became a world famous lawyer and the U.S. President. Another is Henry Ford, who became a billionaire with Ford Motor Company, though he did not attend college. Of course, there are still more individuals who, in the same way, prove that success doesn’t merely depend on educational attainment, but on the person’s talents, skills, and passion as well.

To conclude, there is a certain  belief that formal education is not fully necessary to gain success in life. People are different; there are those who are gifted and there are those who are just trained. Like Michael Jordan, – though, he trained in his professional basketball career – his dominance in the NBA league is the confirmation of his talent in basketball. There are many players, of course, who became good at playing that sport; but most of them are just trained, not truly having the gift. There are also some individuals like Henry Ford, who are blessed with having an inventive intellectual capability and economic advantages to own businesses (perhaps, with their gifts in management). Henry Ford didn’t attend college, but he still succeeded, despite incomplete formal education. However, for sure, people like Ford and Jordan still needed some mentors; nevertheless, their success in life did not depend on formal education. Jordan, however, still attended college and had a complete formal education. Nonetheless, we can verily say that he can still be the “Greatest of All Time” in the basketball court without applying what he studied about higher mathematics, economics or history during his college. 

Second, success depends on the passion and diligence of an individual. Anyone can build his/her lifetime career, but only those who will labor for it will surely find success. Mere gifts and talents are not enough; these will be useless, if the person is slothful in executing his/her talents. For one to find success and improvement in his/her career, he/she must love it. Thus, those who are gifted at particular fields still have the great capacity to succeed in their careers through their talents and skills, as well as being passionate and industrious in building their careers.

It goes without saying that formal education is not bad by itself. However, if it will just ruin the privileges of a person to build his/her career through the skills and gifts given by God, then one could not vote for having complete formal education (specifically college education) in building one’s lifetime vocation. Formal education, particularly college level, is not the ultimate way to success; it depends on the person, whether he/she will be passionate in building his/her lifetime career, according to the God-given gifts, talents and other advantages.

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