Is college worth it?
College is a business and like all businesses it’s a large investment. An investment in time, money and sometimes even your social life. Many choose college because of the benefits it promises those considering a way out of fast food and other entry-level jobs. But, is college for everyone? Is college for you? This is something I myself struggled with and questioned when I was going through the enrollment process when trying to determine what it was I wanted out of college. In this article I’ll break down some numbers and give you some key examples as to why college isn’t for everyone and why college isn’t needed to be successful.
The enrollment rate of college students from the years 2000 to 2018 have sky rocketed from 15.3 million students to 19.9 million. A staggering 4.7 million student difference in only 18 years and it doesn’t stop there, by 2027 its projected that the enrollment rate will increase to 20.5 million students! A number produced by the National Center for Educational Statistics (https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372). So why is it that more people are going to college? “From an early age, we get the message that going to college is as crucial step in life” (315), we see this advertised on billboards, the sides of building, in commercials, our communities, online advertisements and pressure from our friends and family. College propaganda has become burnt into American culture (thanks Obama), But interesting enough the drop out rates are actually decreasing, a survey analyzing the drop out rates from the years 2000 to 2016 went from an average drop out rate of 10.9 percent to a surprising 6.1 percent. (https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=16)
So, Is this a good thing? While these numbers are impressive, they’re a little misleading. For most students unable to afford college; the ones working their 9-5 jobs, raising kids, living on their own, etc., The question of whether or not college is worth it no longer remains the issue but rather, is the cost worth it? The average middle class American typically can’t afford colleges increasing tuition rates. These students are usually forced to apply for grants and loans to make it through college with the hopes of landing in a good university, and ultimately get their dream job (which is the goal). But if these goals aren’t financially and articulately planned out ahead of time, the “helping hand” financial aids offer come with a major “backhand” of debt.
“The average student debt in the united states is $32,731, while the median student loan debt amount is $17,000” (https://www.valuepenguin.com/average-student-loan-debt) This means that the average students graduating with debt may have been better off never going to college in the first place, but sadly most well-paying careers require a college degree and prior experience. A contradiction that leaves college graduates over-educated and underpaid with degrees they can’t use for jobs that won’t hire them. ￼
(image source: https://www.insidesources.com/college-debt-vs-education-choices/)
So while student drop out rates are decreasing, the average student debt is catapulting, leaving its mark on the American economy. A hindsight that is happening right before our eyes and I’m sure someone right now reading this article is feeling the full effect of their empty wallet because of college. It’s no joke, but you may be thinking to yourself, “What about grants? What about scholarships?“ Yes, grants are an option that help out tremendously with the cost of college but rarely do they cover the full cost of tuition rates and while scholarships are a huge financial weight off the shoulder, applying yourself and acquiring the right ones is a skill in itself, a skill set very few know. Weighing the pros and cons of college takes a bit of consideration as to whether or not its right for you. The pros of having a college degree means more options and better paying careers, the average college graduate making $570,000 more than just high school graduate over a life time (that’s about a 71%-136% more in pay than the average high school diploma holder). But the dark side of this graduates paradise is the debt that comes hand in hand. It was reported as of May 2018, roughly 44 million American college graduates owed over $1.5 trillion in student debt and 45% of these people surveyed said college wasn’t worth it. (https://college-education.procon.org/).
Bradley Gauthier, a college graduate, managed to rack up $68,472 in student debt, he writes about how college ruined his life and the mistakes he made to acquire this debt. At an early age he built a thriving business that implemented technology in residences and offices, but later he liquidated the business to attend and help him pay for his time in college. This quickly took a turn for the worse when it wasn’t enough and Gauthier began to pull out loans to help him the rest of the way through. “But it’s too late, I’ve accrued a mortgage payment equivalent monthly loan amount. Before consolidation I’m looking at $750 a month just to pay interest. I’ve been out of college 4 years and I still have yet to begin paying down the principal.” – A direct quote from Bradley Gauthier’s article How College Ruined My Life (http://blog.bradleygauthier.com/how-college-ruined-my-life/)
With that kind of debt and the interest rates that come with it, it is likely he’ll never be able to fully pay off this debt in his life time without some help. In my own personal opinion, if one is to choose the high road and pursue a better education, you’ll need to first find what it is you want out of college. Having a major is a start, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay permanent to the major you chose and unintentionally land a career you may eventually hate. It’s also not a good idea to pick a handful of random classes just because you want them, wasting not only your money but the governments as well. The point I’m trying to make is if your unsure of what it is you want out of college but you want the education (plus the career options) you’ll need to sit down and decide if it’s worth it for you.
Many succeed in life debt free without college. Some being college drop-outs themselves acquiring better pay than even college graduates. Bill Gates being one the most influential examples of this; On his way to becoming a lawyer just like his father, Gates gets inspired by a magazine clip about Altair computers, calls the Altair computer company about a computer language he (hadnt yet) wrote and boom, a snow ball of hardwork took hold of his life tranforming him into the billionaire we know today. Another great example that hits a soft spot in my own personal life is my oldest brother, Dylan Werner. He was a college student and acquired a degree to become a Firefighter/Paramedic, but he soon realized it wasn’t for him. He left his career job entirely and became an entrepreneur. I’ll spare you all the minor details inbetween, but Dylan now is a millionaire, traveling the world teaching yoga and fulfilling his dreams (true story, go check him out https://www.dylanwerneryoga.com/). ￼(Photo of Dylan Werner; via Instagram @dylanwerneryoga)
The point of the matter is that he built a career for himself without the help of a piece of paper telling him he was fit for the job. College is a major commitment, it can be taxing on all aspects of life, but it can also be fun if you make the right choices and HAVE A PLAN! If you want to be a doctor and you think that will make you happy then go and get that degree! Just know College isn’t for everyone so going off the notion that in order to succeed in life you need a college degree simply isn’t true. Read against the grain, learn from everything, find what it is that makes you happy and stick with it. Sometimes the most unexpected things turn into success, and if college is the thing that makes you happy, then keep making college work for you. But if it isn’t, then go and make your own path.
NCES.ED.GOV Is a student demographic survey site that takes numbers from US colleges. They are complied for comparison for studies such as drop out rates, average student loan amounts and other student demographic poles. I am using it in my essay to present the impact college has on the average American and US drop out rates. This site is reliable because is an official .GOV site and is used to provide scientific evidence to share information to educators, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the public.
Valuepenguin is a financial consumer site that concentrates large bites of information to graphs and poles for the daily consumer. They take numbers from anonymous insurances, credit cards, bank accounts and hashes the info into usable data. I am using this site in my essay the same as I am using it as I am using NCES.ED.GOV to provide numbers of the average student loan amounts. The site is reliable because it provides sources for all the information they claim.
College-education.procon.org is a nonprofit nonpartisan public charity site that provides non-bias comparison information in the form of Pros and Cons. I am using it my essay to briefly describe the pros and cons of career opportunities for College graduates. The site was declared a “Top-Rated Nonprofit” for the last 7 years in a row by Guidestar making it a reliable un-biased source.
This is a personal blog by Bradley Gauthier and his life experiences. He gives a few of his insights on his life mistakes, achievements and his advise on how he would do it better if given a second chance. I am using this in my essay to give example how college can hurt rather than help when students don’t plan out college appropriately. Bradley is a real person who has been writing his life experiences since 2009.
Dylan Werner is an international yoga teacher/certified sky dive instructor/certified rock-climbing instructor/certified firefighter and former band member of “Question the gas price”. He travels the globe teaching yoga at different highly exclusive master class workshops. I am using him in my essay because of my close blood relation to Dylan Werner and how he chose to educate himself by unorthodox means and found a very successful career without college certification.
Gerald G., Cathy B., Russel D., They Say I Say with readings 4th edition, (pg.315) 2018
Crafton Hills, Professor Ramos English 010 book required of his 010 English class. The book is a compilation of different writings from many different writers with the goal to help aspiring writers to become better in their writing practice. I am using the book to give a brief example of how college propaganda is introduced to young student at all ages of school life. The book is reliable because of its massive library of given sources.
Rebecca D. Cox, The college Fear Factor, how student and professors misunderstand one another. 2011
Crafton Hills 010 English book used by Dr.Elliot in 2017. The book is an instructional read to help Students and teachers come to an understanding of one another and hopefully make college a fun rather than terrifying experience. I am using un-plagiarized information from this book I have learned from my previous semester in English to give personal examples to help those considering college. The book is reliable because of the writers qualification of their PhD on the subject matter.