Opinion: Is College Really Worth It?

By Rachael Smith, Student at Radford University

In the past three to four years has anyone sympathetically told you “good luck finding a job” after you tell them you’re graduating college soon?

Odds are someone has because everyone knows how crummy the offerings are out there. I’ve watched tons of my friends graduate from great schools, even Ivy Leagues, and they are living back at home with their parents scrounging for any job that comes along — even if it’s an unpaid internship. College graduates are now fighting with middle-aged men and women who have 10-plus years of experience on their backs for entry-level jobs.

This raises the question: Is it really worth it to pay thousands of dollars and bust our butts in school for four or more years just to be right back where we started after we graduated high school?

Cons to College:

1. Cha-Ching! (Spending money sucks)
Some students are fortunate enough to have their parents save for college and pay for it themselves. According to the Wall Street Journal, however, two-thirds of college students are borrowing money to pay for their education and the average amount of money they owe back by the time they graduate is $23,186.

2. No Full-Time Job
You can easily find a part-time job, but between classes, studying and extracurricular activities, it’s nearly impossible to get some cold hard cash flowing.

Pros to College:

1. The Education
I could go on and on about why everyone should go to school, but getting an education from professors who are passionate about what they teach is so valuable. Even though my major is in journalism, I have taken various courses just to learn new things. You can’t be an engineer, a doctor, a teacher or a lawyer without going to college.

2. Cha-Ching! (Earning money rocks!)
Yes, you’ll somehow have to spend a ton of money, but there are ways to get financial aid grants and loans because people love to see young people achieve! The facts don’t lie: In 2009 the Bureau of Labor Statistics did a study and those with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $1,025 monthly and those with just a high school diploma earned $626. You can even earn more working a job that doesn’t require a college education. The same researchers found that cashiers with a degree earned $29,000 a year while high school graduates only earned $19,000 in 2011.

3. Credibility
Maybe not right away, but one day all of those hours studying and getting up early for class and making the grades will pay off and you will be placed higher up on the list when applying for jobs. We already have an advantage over those with just a high school education.

Make the right choice and go to school! I know plenty of people who said one of their regrets in life is not going to college because they know they would be doing big things today if they had. Also, don’t drop out! If you do, come back, because you’ll have only have loans to pay off and no education to show for it, so stick it out.

College has so much to offer. You’ll meet the coolest people from all around the country and the world and colleges throw job fairs, give you free career counseling and help you with networking. And in the end … college is totally worth it.


Image: scottchan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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