Is education necessary?

A high school students wrote to me: “Since there are many unemployed college graduates and graduates with a low paying job that cannot support themselves. My question is: “Is college education necessary? Is there a better way to make money than go to college? Please advise.”

Answer: College is NOT for everybody but in this technology-driven world, a college education does give you an advantage over others, assume that you select the right field of study. If college is NOT what you have in mind, you may go to a vocational school to learn a profession. Regardless of your choice, you need to be educated to think and learn about the world that you are living in. You need to develop certain knowledge and skills, NOT pursue a piece of paper called “Degree” or “Certificate.” It is your skills that determine what you will do for a living. It is your skills that determine how much money you will make. It is your skills that determine what you can buy, and where you will live and work.

Since you are young and still in high school, you may not understand the value of a good education yet but our society needs more educated people, people who can take care of themselves, their family and contribute to the economy. Do NOT let unemployed graduates news distract you from going to school and learning. Do NOT let negative news lead you to think an education is not necessary. Do NOT fall into the wrong notion that the goal of education is about getting a degree or making money.

Even I do not teach you but I do care about you and young people like you because I would like to see all of you become a success in life. I am glad that you are asking the question so you can make a right decision for your future. Do NOT equate education with making money because a good education is much more precious than money. Education gives you the knowledge of the world around you and your roles and responsibilities in it. It helps you to develop a perspective of looking at life from a different view and what you can do with your knowledge and skills. Money is NOT the goal of education but only a “by-product.” Have you ever asked why today, there are many crimes, robberies, and violence? It is because some people ignore education and focus on making money, even in an illegal way.

Let us imagine that someone who considers that education is NOT necessary and go to find a job with the hope of making money. Can you guess how many companies will reject him because he does not have the skills that are necessary for a job? Each time he comes to apply for a job, he will be greeted by people who look down on him because he does not have what they are looking for. The more rejections that he receives, the less happy he is and the money that he wishes to have never materialized, even in his dream. Can you imagine the burden that he has to suffer because he does not look far ahead?

The only way to keep the opportunity door open is to get a good education, regardless of which school you decide to go. The schools and the teachers are there to help you. As a young student, you still have a chance to make your future better, and I hope that you will take this chance to be educated, to be able to make a comfortable living and to contribute to your society.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University
"Like" us to know more!