Despite societal pressure, college might not be the best choice for everyone
By COLLIN JOHNSON
Young adults today are pressured more than ever to go to higher education. Many even believe that they will be unsuccessful in life if they do not attend a university. This is something that has been ingrained in all of us from a young age. From media, to family, to friends, college just seems like the natural next step after high school, however, I find myself asking questions about the cost effectiveness in signing up for college straight out of high school.
College is far from a cheap venture, the average cost to attend a public university in the U.S. as reported by Forbes is about $28,000 per year. Add to that the fact that less than 60 percent of the young adults who go to college graduate in under 6 years and you end up with a very large bill for that education. Almost sixty-six percent of young adults attend a university, 15 percent of which graduate with over $100,000 in debt from student loans.
Unfortunately for youth today, the benefit does not outweigh the cost. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 84 percent of jobs do not require a post-secondary education. Meaning 65.9 percent of young adults are going into debt to get a degree that 84 percent of jobs do not require. A survey conducted by Gallup researchers, showed that 79 percent of employers were more concerned with job skills, experience and industry knowledge rather than education level.
This same survey found that only 9 percent of employers actually care where your degree came from, meaning paying more for a “better” school is not benefitting you at all. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the bottom quarter of college graduates earn the same amount of money or less than high school graduates in their lifetime. This statistic has remained the same for the past 40 years. Of course in this area degree does come into play. A graduate with a degree in engineering can expect to earn 1.1 million more in their lifetime than a high school graduate, where as on average a person with an arts degree actually earns about $147,000 less per year than the average graduate.
From a financial standpoint, college just does not make sense. Eighty-four percent of jobs do not require a degree, however, 65.9 percent of young adults are going into significant amounts of debt for schooling when in all reality that education does not particularly help them get ahead financially, especially when you factor in the effect these loans will have on their long term financial well-being.
Forbes reports that 41 percent of people do not start investing into retirement until their late 30’s due to paying off student loans. Twenty-nine percent of people do not buy houses due to student loan debt affecting their ability to receive credit. Mike Rowe famously said, “We are lending money we don’t have, to kids who can’t pay it back, to obtain jobs that no longer exist.” The reality is that college is not worth the money from a financial perspective.
For many, however, college is more than a gateway to a career. It’s a social experience, an accomplishment, a milestone in life. Many attend college because earning that degree makes them feel good, it gives them a sense of pride in what they have accomplished and there is nothing wrong with that. Attending school and graduating is something to be proud of. It is a big accomplishment that just about anyone can respect.
If you are doing it for this reason and you are able to tell yourself that you want to complete school because you want to have that accomplishment in life, that you want to be able to be able to have that milestone, then by all means, college is the right path for you. However, if you’re doing it because you feel you have to do it to get a job, that if you do not get a degree you will not be successful in life, then maybe it is time to take a look at the 84 percent of jobs that do not require a degree, because it is not all about the diploma.