Is college worth it? For many people, the true value of a college education has been a topic of debate since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008.
While there is little doubt that a college education provides many advantages to graduates, the steady increase in tuition costs and the recent lack of available jobs has caused some families of college-bound high school students to question the genuine value of attending college.
Historically, college graduates earn more money in their lifetime and enjoy greater job security than their non-college counterparts. In addition, studying for four years at a college or university not only improves a young person’s ability to clearly express their thoughts verbally and in writing, but it also teaches them to think critically and abstractly and (hopefully) to make wise decisions. These are skills people use throughout their lifetime, both on and off the job. Perhaps most importantly, employers want to hire people who know how to think, solve problems, and communicate effectively; as a result, a college degree typically leads to better paying career jobs.
However, the cost of college has risen steadily over the past decades to the point where the "sticker price" for attending many top colleges and universities for four years is approaching $250,000. For some students without scholarships, grants, or other financial support, education loans are the only option available. For many, education loans have become a huge financial burden in the post-college years.
While the debate over the value of a college education may continue into the foreseeable future, there is one absolute truth about the college experience that students need to realize: college is the only time in your life that is just for you.
For students, it’s the only time that:
- You don’t have parents telling you what to do on a daily basis.
- You don’t have a boss at your job telling you what to do.
- You don’t have to worry about a husband/wife and his/her wants and needs.
- You don’t have any children to worry about and to care for.
Before college, you have to answer to your parents. After college, you will have to take orders from a boss at your place of employment and eventually worry about and act on the needs and wants of a spouse and children. For virtually all young people, college is the only chance they will have for focused personal growth experience without the traditional responsibilities of work and family. Furthermore, college students graduate with several impressive qualities (and qualifications) no one can ever take away from them, such as a college degree, better opportunities to secure higher-paying career jobs, and a heightened ability to think and problem solve.
Consequently, I recommend high school students with even the slightest interest in attending a four-year college or university do everything possible to make it happen. Students need to create opportunities through hard work and earning top grades, while parents should support their student’s efforts during high school and plan to the best of their ability for a college education in their student’s future.
The experience of attending a four-year college or university is a life event that should not be missed.