Every student has a big decision to make once they complete their twelve years of formal education. Should they or should they not go to college? The fact that a college degree will not only cost tens of thousands of dollars, but it will also cost every student four precious years of their lives makes this decision all the more difficult. Plus, some of the most successful people in the world, like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, were college dropouts, making you wonder whether a college degree is as significant as it is made out to be.
The debate behind the importance of college is somewhat confusing. While attending college has its benefits ranging from financial benefits to social exposure, it also has a wide variety of factors that make it look unimportant. The high tuition fee and the uncertainty of getting guaranteed employment are only some factors that make us skeptical about the importance of college.
Where College doesn’t end up as a wastage:
Financial and Career Benefits
It’s no secret that people with a bachelor’s degree earn way more than those with a high school diploma or equivalent. According to research done in 2019, people with a bachelor’s degree made around $30,000 more as opposed to those who didn’t have one.
Plus, a person with a bachelor’s degree on average makes roughly $1 million more throughout their life than somebody with just a high school diploma will.
Although many people would say that a high salary isn’t their primary metric of success, it is undeniable that a higher wage opens up many more doors for you; it alleviates stress, allows you to sustain a better lifetime, and more easily support a family.
According to a study done by the New York Federal Reserve Bank, people between the ages 22 and 27 are less likely to be unemployed if they have a bachelor’s degree. In addition to that, college graduates are likely to get married sooner and have healthier relationships.
The opportunity to Explore Your Interests
College gives you a window into a whole new world. Unlike high school, where the school decides what you are going to study and learn, in college, you are the one who decides what you do and don’t want to study. You can choose from hundreds of classes and majors and opt for whatever piques your interest.
Although there are some core subjects that you have to study depending on your major, for the most part, you get to choose subjects that work for you. You can choose the subjects that you want to learn more about and potentially spark a new passion in college and change the course of your academic and professional life.
Also, while in college, you get the chance to engage in tons and tons of extracurriculars that you would not have been a part of otherwise. Such activities can end up becoming lifelong passions, helping you develop meaningful relationships that last throughout your life.
The opportunity to have fun and make new friends
One of the biggest pros of a college degree is the college experience. Most people would tell you that they thoroughly enjoyed their college experience and made some of the best memories of their lives during that time. Too often, people underestimate how vital fun is when it comes to education. On a college campus, you get to attend parties, sporting events, concerts, and most importantly, meet new people and develop relationships that last for the rest of your life.
You also get the chance to see some of the most famous celebrities because colleges often host famous musicians, comedians, businessmen, motivational speakers, and actors.
In college, you get to meet people from all over the country or even the world depending on which college you go to. One of the best things about college is getting to meet and learn from people from diverse backgrounds.
The opportunity for Self-Improvement
For many people, college may be the first time in their lives that they get to live by themselves and away from their parents. This means many things they never had to think about before become an integral part of their lives. They have to learn to become self-sufficient and learn domestic skills.
Plus, for the first time in their lives, there is no one there to tell them what to do; they get to make their own decisions. They understand how difficult it can be to motivate themselves when they don’t want to get out of bed in the morning or don’t want to do something that needs to be done. In short, college teaches you to see life through a lens that you’ve never seen before.
Furthermore, many colleges have exchange programs that give you a chance to go to different countries around the world for a semester. So, all in all, college can give you an extraordinary amount of social exposure that you might otherwise be left without.
Where College is the wastage of money
High Costs and Potential Debt
College is not cheap; it can roughly cost upwards of $100,000 to complete a four-year college program. Plus, with costs continuing to rise, many college graduates are left with astronomical student debts, and they spend a big part of their lives paying them off.
On average, the cost of attending an in-state public college is somewhere around $21,320, whereas out-of-state private non-profit four-year colleges cost $48,510 per year. However, many students receive financial aid that can partly cover the cost of attendance, given that they demonstrate financial need.
Unfortunately, most students don’t receive the aid, which means their college is self-financed. Consequently, they are forced to take unsubsidized student loans to cover the cost of their college education. To make matters worse, from 2004 to 2019, student loan debt increased from $260 billion to a whopping $1.5 trillion. According to the Federal Reserve average student loan debt is $32,731, which is around a 20% increase from 2015-2016
Ultimately, student loans can dramatically impact a graduate’s life after leaving college. Everything else has to take the back seat until they pay off their student loans.
The financial benefits are overstated
We have heard time and again that college graduates earn $1 million more in their lifetimes compared to those who haven’t gone to college, but graduates from top universities might actually skew the statistics. If you dig deeper into this statistic, you will find that it isn’t as accurate as you might have thought.
A study shows that out of 1,878 four-year schools, there are only six schools where a college degree can result in a million dollars return on investment.
Moreover, these stats don’t consider the fact that most college students are not working or only have a part-time job. So on top of the high financial costs and debts, you won’t be making the money you could make if you worked a full-time job during the four to six years of college.
There is no guarantee that you’ll become smarter
One of the biggest cons of attending college is that there is no guarantee that you will actually become smarter once you’re done with your four-year program.
According to a study done in 2011, 45% of college students that graduated from 2005 to 2009 had no real improvement in their critical thinking, reasoning, or writing skills in the first two years of college. At the same time, 36% of the chosen students stayed the same even after completing the four-year program.
Given how much a bachelor’s degree costs, you would think that it will dramatically change your intellectual abilities, but there is no guarantee that it actually will.
Should you go to college or not? Is it actually worthless?
Your parents and teacher tell you that a college degree is an absolute must if you want to make something of yourself, and there is no way around it. However, as time passes, it is becoming more and more evident that even though a college degree can be substantial, it is not everything.
People often talk about Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, who become some of the wealthiest people in the world without a college degree. However, it can be a bit unfair to use these people as examples because, let’s face it; not everyone will develop a multi-billion dollar social media platform that will make them rich overnight.
However, nowadays, many companies will hire you even if you don’t have a college degree as long as you are skilled. Many people spend just six months learning a new skill on the internet without paying any money and get a high-paying job at Google or Facebook. So if you have the right amount of self-discipline and motivation, you don’t need any college degree to succeed.
It would be foolish to deny the importance of a college degree. It brings endless financial, professional, and personal benefits. You get to have far better financial and job prospects if you get a bachelor’s degree compared to someone who doesn’t have one. Plus, very rarely do people regret their decision to go to college despite the enormous amount of student loans that show that a bachelor’s degree gives you something more than just an education; it gives you an experience that you cherish for the rest of your life.
On the other hand, many people don’t need a college degree to achieve their personal or professional goals. They can be just as successful and happy as a college graduate. So it all comes down to your personal preference; if you think college is worth it, go for it, and if you think you can get to where you want to get in life without a college degree, you are 100% correct.