Is College the biggest investment of deficit for your future?
by Chantrese Williams
Recently, I received a phone call from a friend from high school who, like myself, is finishing her last year of college. Several times during our conversation she expressed excitement. But more than anything, she was nervous about graduating in four months. She shared her concerns about finding a job and paying back the debt she accumulated through student loans. The pressure of getting a job is a feeling we all have felt before. The stress of student loan payments on top of that creates an apprehension about the future. I recall a conversation that I had with an upper classmen during my freshmen year of college. He said “They say college is the biggest investment in your future, but it’s really the biggest deficit.” Three and a half years later, I can’t help but ponder this statement.
The Pew Research Center conducted both phone and online surveys with a total of 3,197 adults, 18 years old and older. Survey results showed that 86% of the participants believe that college was a good investment for them personally. The survey also revealed that out of the students exiting college with debt, 48% claimed that student loan debt consumes the majority of their income. Twenty five (25) percent of the people said it made buying a home difficult. In addition to this, 24% of people surveyed stated debt from student loans affected the careers they decided to pursue. These results leave so many questions unanswered. Is college more trouble than it is worth? Should students forgo their career passions to concentrate on only those that promise higher incomes?
In February 2012, the Chicago Tribune published an article entitled “Questioning College” by William Hageman, which sheds slight on whether or not college is absolutely necessary. Hageman included facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that reveal, “Four of the top five occupations projected to see the greatest job growth through 2020 do not require a college degree.” According to both the article as well as the statistics, the four occupations are: home health aides, medical assistants, personal care aides and medical secretaries. The fifth occupation is registered nurses and the only one to require a degree. Hageman addressed the increasing reality that though a college degree costs a fortune, it may be “virtually worthless.” College may be an expensive investment, but what would be the alternative?
In December 2011, a CNN.com article entitled “Why does college cost so much?” discussed the harsh reality that college is becoming too expensive for anyone to afford. Vedder reported that his research showed that as of 2008, 17 million college graduates were underemployed and he concluded that it might be time to introduce high school students to other less expensive alternatives. For example, programs that develop skills, instead of automatically directing them to four-year colleges and universities. In the end of the article, Vedder produced a line that summarizes society’s current higher education dilemma: “College costs cannot rise faster than income forever—we cannot afford it.”
Graduating from college is an accomplishment that isn’t like any other. While it should be a time of celebration and excitement, graduates are in line for jobs right next to people who have had real world experience. New and older generations are Occupying Wall Street, for the very same reasons.
Last Year, The Huffington Post published a blog written by Paul Heroux, a Public Administration and Policy Consultant called “Is College Worth It?, which explained that not attending college is a huge risk with some pretty big consequences. He wrote, “A quick Google search will turn up various lists of examples of millionaires and even billionaires who dropped out of college, and even high school. But what you won’t find is a list of college dropouts who are homeless or who are in prison. This is not to say that there are no college graduates who are homeless or college graduates don’t go to prison, some do, but there is a pretty strong relationship between the quality of life, income, and one’s options in life with educational achievement.” Dropping out of college does not automatically turn you into the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs.
College may be a deficit, however, I still believe it is the smartest investment you can make for the future. Since high school, parents, teachers and friends have advised you that going to college is in your best interest, however, no one tells you what to happens after college. No one mentions that this investment can end up saddling your future with huge amounts of debt.
Chantrese Williams is currently completing her BA in Media and Communications and American Studies at SUNY College at Old Westbury. Chantrese has a love for learning and an intense passion for writing. She is excited to be the newest addition to the Good-b team and looks forward to all that she will learn and share with Good-b readers!
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