Ranked in ascending order (lowest to highest) for somebody perusing your resume:
- H.S. diploma/GED
- Go to work, maybe self directed study
- 1-2 year trade school (culinary certificate) or apprenticeship (advocates for either/both may be very vocal )
- A.A. or A.S. (2 year college degree), may have trade specialty included. An Associates degree from a large majority of community colleges as well as selected private schools is fundamentally the same as the first two years of a four year school and is generally transferable to another school.
- B.A. or B.S. (4 year college degree), majors vary, major important for engineering, sciences, professions, otherwise generally of less importance, essential if any plans for Masters, PhD, or entering the educational field or private practice such as law , medical , engineering, accounting, etc.
If you plan to advance beyond doing something (often referred as "blue collar") and eventually managing or seeing to it that things get done (often referred to as "white collar"), IMHO an A.A/A.S. is mandatory and a B.A./B.S. very strongly recommended.
Can you manage without a college degree, sure, but the road is rougher and longer.
Where do you see yourself in:
- 5 years
- 10 years
- 20 years
What you do after high school sets the foundation for the rest of your life, basically the next 60-70 years.