Do I Need a Degree to Succeed?

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This article was written by Hailee Bissett a summer intern from North Carolina State University.

I wonder if people ever pause for a moment and reflect on why they did or didn’t go to college? There are two sides to every decision and college attendance isn’t an exception. For instance, your school guidance counselor and teachers may be saying “Start thinking about college; what colleges do you want to attend?” While others, maybe your grandparents, parents or friends at that weekend part-time job are saying, “you should skip college and just get to work, you’ll make more money that way.” Maybe someone can’t go to college because the family business needs help or it’s unattainable financially. Regardless of the situation, deciding whether college attendance is or isn’t the correct next step for an individual should never be taken lightly.

With today’s advancements in technology, college has become more accessible and possible for people that may have believed an advanced degree was not an option. If someone is working a full-time job and has family obligations, there are night classes. If there isn’t a campus near the house, online classes are possible. There are also countless scholarship options for most financial situations if students are willing to put in the time and research. Guidance counselors at your school are a great resource as well and can help direct you to scholarships you may be eligible for, and may not have even been aware existed!

It’s also important for the individual to think about what interests will translate into a college degree program and/or career. One of the biggest things that I pin my success on is 4-H and agricultural programs. Some may think agriculture is just another way of saying “farming”, but in reality, there are so many more opportunities under that umbrella. Just the other day while at the Sanford Farmers Market, a mom and her daughter walked up to our booth excited to learn more about the programs 4-H offered. The general interaction in and of itself wasn’t what stood out to me about this particular encounter, it was the comment the mom made about agriculture, “I never knew how many job opportunities there are in agriculture”, she said, “if I knew about this when I was in school I may not have gone into the medical field.” Now, this isn’t to discourage anyone from following a particular career path, but rather to reaffirm the importance of doing as much research as possible to get a good feel for the vast number of options available in today’s workforce.

Also of importance, is to acknowledge that four-year universities aren’t the only option out there and may not be for everyone. There are tons of farmers, electricians, linemen, welders, plumbers, etc. who don’t have four-year college degrees and do extremely well in their chosen field. Our community college system also does an outstanding job of preparing young people for a number of fulfilling and well-paying careers.

As daunting as these life decisions may sound, the good news is, many of the resources to help answer the big question, “do I need a degree to succeed?” are right here at the local Cooperative Extension office. Through Lee County 4-H, we offer summer programs that will allow a child to explore myriad career interests. There is horticulture science camp week that will encourage participants to explore all things plant science-related, there’s the electric camp that explores circuitry and electrical engineering, and there’s even a program this summer called “Discovering the Farm”, that’s all about livestock and large animals. When it comes to the clubs that are offered through 4-H, we cover a variety of special interests there as well. For the sewing fans, we have Crazy Quilters 4-H Club, for the sharpshooters, we have Team Topshots 4-H Club and for those interested in professional development, we offer the Young Commissioners 4-H Club which helps youth build professional skills by working with local elected officials and business leaders. To find out more about all the amazing things that Lee County Extension has to offer go to our Summer Camps page.

Hailee Bissett is currently a student at NC State University pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Business Management with a minor in Agricultural Entrepreneurship. She is interning with N.C. Cooperative Extension – Lee County Center this summer.