Is College Worth It?

College is an educational establishment in order for a person to achieve a higher education or focus on a specific profession of their choice. Every student that graduates from high school will have the option to pursue a college education, go straight into the workforce, or choose another path that they believe would be best for them. If that high school graduate decides to further their education, they will then be faced with deciding what college would be the right fit for them. Many believe going to college is not worth it, whereas others think going to college is the only way they could live a successful life and have a substantial salary. There are numerous articles that discuss the importance of college and why one should attend, but there are also reports on why college is not worth attending.

In the year 2020, it was reported that 19.7 million students were enrolled in college for the Fall 2020 semester, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Additionally, there were approximately 3.9 million students that have graduated with some form of degree in the United States. However, was college the right choice for these individuals who either attended or graduated from it? According to a The Washington Post article called, “Is College Worth It? Read this Study,” written by Michelle Singletary, it discusses reasons on why college could be worth it and potentially not be worth it to an individual. Singletary mentioned that “workers with a bachelor’s degree on average earn well over $1 million more than high school graduates make during their working lives, according to a 2014 report by the Federal Reserve” (Singletary, par. 8). If this is true, then this information would be beneficial for someone that is either deciding or is already attending college, since they would be making more money than if they decided not to attend college. Singletary also mentions that most jobs would pay an individual more money if they have a college degree rather than just a high school diploma.

In the article “7 Reasons Why College is Worth It,” by Kimaya Raje, mentions multiple reasons as to why college is worth it to a student. Reasons such as job satisfaction, health, and families and communities. When discussing job satisfaction, Raje states that a 2013 study indicated that individuals who have a higher level of education are more likely to be satisfied with their profession than those who did not pursue additional studies. This article stated that “53% of people between 25 to 32 with a bachelor’s degree or higher were very satisfied with their job, compared to only 37% of those who had a high school diploma or less” (Kimaya, par. 10). If a student were to agree with these statistics, then they would pursue their college education, however some individuals, such as I, do not agree with these statistics. I believe a person would love their job regardless if they have a degree or not. When discussing health, Kimaya Raje stated that college graduates are more likely to live healthier lives and expected to live 7 years longer than a person who does not have a college degree. After reading that part of the article, I thought it was pretty pathetic and should not have been included in what is supposed to be a persuasive article. Afterall, how would that even be possible? Nonetheless, if an individual who is attending college believes this claim, then it would be a huge benefit for them knowing they will live a healthier life with a degree.

Most individuals who obtain a college degree will persuade others into receiving a college degree as well. An individual could persuade another by indicating regardless of the tuition expenses and time spent, in the end a college degree is worth it. In an article “Is College Worth It? Going Beyond Averages,” by Douglas Webber, PhD, mentions multiple reasons as to why college is worth it, regardless of the expensive costs. As indicated in the article, a reason to attend college would be because “the net present value of a college degree is $344,000 for the average person” (Webber, par. 9). Assuming the author was mentioning if a person were to graduate with a four-year college degree and have between $0 to $120,000 or more in student debt, the amount of income that person will be receiving is $344,000 or more at some point during their career. Now, I am not sure that is accurate, since it all depends on the individual’s degree, how much school debt they have, where they live, and what job/position title they have. Webber also mentions that “there is little payoff without a degree, and 6 in 10 students who start don’t finish…which has a high payoff if you graduate, and a low payoff if you don’t” (Webber, par. 11 & 34). As I was reading this section of the article, the author was explaining that it is not just going to college that makes it pay itself off, but it is the process of accomplishing and graduating from it. This makes complete sense, because college graduates will have a better payoff with their degree rather than a college dropout would. What I mean by that is a college graduate will have more opportunities in their workforce, be more educated in their field of work, and have a degree rather than someone who has not graduated from college and only has a high school diploma. These were all points as to why attending college would be worth it for an individual.

Up to this point, one might be thinking to themself that college is the right decision, worth the expense, and all the time that it will consume. Well, that is not exactly true, since there are negatives that are also associated with college. In the article “Is College Worth the Cost? Pros Vs. Cons” by Kat Tretina, discusses both the positives and negatives of whether college is worth it. However, since the pros addressed in this article are relatively similar to what was already mentioned, the cons will be addressed. Tretina mentions that college is not worth it, since the student is going to graduate with a substantial amount of student loan debt. Adding to that, she mentions that “if you graduate within four years, that means your degree would cost between $107,280 and $219,520, depending on what type of school you attend” (Tretina, par. 6). Additionally, it was mentioned that “The Institute for College Access and Success, 62% of 2019 college graduates left school with student loan debt, with an average balance of $28,950” (Tretina, par. 19). Anyone would agree that is a large amount of money and would not want to financially set themselves back that much. College tuition just keeps increasing as years pass by and many students just cannot afford to pay such large amounts of money, so as a result, they take out a student loan. When a person decides to take out a student loan, they can be looking at a range of 10 to 30 years to completely pay back that money, depending on the repayment plan. If an individual were to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and have an average of about $80,000 in student debt, most of the income that they will generate in their career would go towards paying the student loan. One cannot forget about interest that gets accumulated over the years, which will be an additional charge on top of the loan. Also, if an individual purchases a home and decides to start a family, the income that is being made would have to go towards bills, a mortgage, children, daily needs such as food and clothing, etc. Nowadays, everything comes with an expensive cost, and student debt is not something people want to be worrying about. Tretina also states in the article that high-paying jobs are not always guaranteed after graduating college. She mentions “the average starting salary for college graduates right out of school is about $51,000, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers” (Tretina, par. 23). This just shows that college might not be worth it after all. If a person were to spend all of that time and money to just make an average salary of $51,000 to $93,000, one should think to themselves, is college worth it? Only 15.5% of household Americans make a salary of $100,000 or more and only 10.3% of Americans make $200,000 or more. It is quite ridiculous since so much time, effort, and money is spent on college to receive a return such as that.

According to another article “Is College Worth It?” by Jake Garner, he also mentions why college would be worth it or not in his article. He states very similar reasons on why not to go to college such as student debt and receiving their career jobs. Student debt plays a huge role in this because it affects an individual’s financial status. He mentioned “someone with a bachelor’s degree will have an average salary of about $67,000” while another individual who just has a “high school diploma working a full-time job makes an average salary of $33,000” (Garner, par. 4). Just because the college graduate is making more money annually, does not indicate they are more successful. If that person has student loans to pay back, they will not get ahead for quite some time, whereas the high school diploma will be able to save that money. Now, if these two individuals have taxes to pay, a mortgage, and children to provide for, the individual with the college diploma is still making more than the person with the high school diploma. However, the individual that went to college is paying more than the other, just because of student debt. This indicates that $67,000 a year goes down to probably $40,000-50,000 a year.

At this point in time, an opinion could be generated on whether or not college is worth it. For the individuals who are still not sure, I will include my own opinion on this discussion as well as some advice. My opinion on whether or not college is worth it all depends on what you want to do in your future career. If you want to pursue the career as a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or any type of engineer, I highly recommend you attend college. The reason for that is because these careers are very important to know and require proof of a diploma in order to be hired. For example, no one would go to a doctor that is not educated and has no experience in the field. For other majors, such as gender studies, liberal arts, communications, music, acting, etc., you really do not need to go to college in order to be educated in that field. With all the technology we currently have in the year 2021, a person can learn anything on a platform such as YouTube. If you want to learn how to make music or start a business, you just need to go onto YouTube and search up something like “how do you make deep house music.” So many results will appear in order to learn from it. For an individual such as I, college is not worth it for me. The reason I mention this is because all the careers that I want to pursue do not really require going to college. Those careers include a music producer, actor, personal trainer, and entrepreneur. Those careers do not require a college degree because for starters, I learned how to produce music from both the internet and my friends and now I am currently signed to a record label. For acting, I already have six years of experience, but I am about to start taking acting lessons this summer. For me to be a personal trainer, I am already enrolled in a program with N.A.S.M, which helps me study for my exam and receive a certificate in personal training. Ideally, college is not for me because of all the time that I am wasting, which I can spend focusing on somewhere else. The only thing that I like about college is the networking and the improvement in my writing and grammar skills. So, if you decide to not attend college or even drop out, I recommend a plan of knowing what you want to do in the future first. Once you have a plan for the future and know how to execute it, then the thought of not attending or dropping out can be considered. If there is no plan, you will just be lost and not become successful in the future. However, if you think college is worth it, then that is great. College is not for everyone, but it might be for you, and if so, be sure to pursue your dreams. The only thing I would recommend to you is to make sure that the major you are studying is something you are interested in and willing to work for after graduation. The second thing is to make sure you can receive financial aid or a scholarship so you can attend college for free or at a reduced cost. Lastly, be sure to attend a college that will make you feel at home as well as give you a great education.

Deciding whether to attend college can be a difficult decision for any high school senior. Looking at the pros and cons when an individual is faced with this burdensome choice can make it easier to decide the path that they want to take. Regardless of if college is meant for everyone or not, making the best out of the situation will lead to a successful future. If deciding to pursue a college education, one should always try their best in each of their classes in hopes of receiving financial help and to educate themselves in their choice of career. If college is not the route taken, then that individual should look around for the best job that would suit their lifestyle and be able to support themselves and their future family.

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