How important is a college degree? Area adults share their opinions

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By Hannah Kiker
Times-News correspondent

   Student loans have increased by 84 percent, resulting in a whopping $1.2 trillion in debt, according to USA Today. With the pressure of attending college put on every high schooler in America, it begs to question, is college really an important step in being successful in a career? Adults and students alike have shared their answers.
Mark Stewart, lead pastor at New Life At Hocutt, attended Elon University. He majored in psychology and finds that the counseling courses he took have helped him the most in his career. On whether or not he would advise people to attend college before making any major career decisions, he said, “Actually, I would advise them to decide a career path before they attend college. College is expensive.”
  Natalie Janicello, a reporter for the Times-News in Burlington, also attended college at Elon University.
“It seems like receiving some form of education after high school, even if it’s a trade program, is important to being successful and settling into a career, not just working random jobs for the rest of your life,” she said.
It seems that furthering one’s education, not limited to college, is essential. Tia Foster, a high school senior at Bartlett Yancey High School, plans on becoming an environmental lawyer. She also shared her opinions about attending college.
“I think that college can be useful for being successful. However, depending on the goals that an individual has for their own life, success can mean different things. So college is not always necessary in being ‘successful’.”
Chris Wheaton, CEO of Portico Pictures and Heartstone Films, is an example of someone who has created a lucrative career for himself. He attended 2½ years at North Carolina State University. Wheaton does not have a degree.
“I haven’t encountered any problems or barriers to success in my specific industry that result from not having a degree,” he said. When asked if he would tell a high-schooler to attend college, he said, “I think it depends on the career they are pursuing. I think there are a lot of benefits from having real world, on the job experience specific to the career they want to pursue. When I went to college, I had no clue what I wanted to do and I didn’t find out my career path until I got out of school and into a real job and had experience in a few different industries.”
But, there are some careers that do require a degree, and hence, college. A freshman at Gardner-Webb University, Alyssia Pagán, has decided to pursue a career in ASL (American Sign Language) interpreting. When asked if she thought that college was an important part of life, she said, “I think so. Nowadays, every single job requires at least an associate’s degree.” She stressed the importance of going to school when considering becoming an interpreter. “You have to stay up-to-date so you can do your job properly,” Pagán said.
College can be an important phase in one’s life, especially for someone who plans on going into a science or medical field. But, these individuals go to show that achievement and accomplishment doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone.

 Hannah Kiker is a home-schooled senior and a Teens & Twenties writer.

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