Is College Worth It?

Is College Worth ItAccording to Bloomberg Businessweek, 40 percent of collegiate students never graduate. If they graduate, 13.5 will not be able to find work. If they manage to graduate and find work, 44 percent will work jobs that do not require college degrees. Nevertheless, even if they graduate, escape unemployment, and find meaningful jobs, then they will most likely be paying off debt (the average student accrues $35,000 in college-related debt, according to CNN Money). After factoring the rising cost of college tuition and the dismal future of the economy, many are understandably left wondering what the value of a college diploma actually is.

Though these statistics are glum for graduates, college is necessary for many students. Higher education is for the self-motivated student who thrives in a learning environment, for the hardworking and disciplined who still have yet some growing up to do, and for the bright-eyed who desire self-discovery. However, a university education is not for everyone.

While unmotivated youths are obviously not meant for college life, post-secondary institutions likewise are not for the truly exceptional. Universities are not for the ones who already know what they want to do with their lives and for whom pursuing a college degree would prevent them from attaining their dreams. For example, post-secondary education was not for entrepreneurs Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs, or for creative thinkers like Vidal Sassoon, Coco Chanel, Marc Ecko, Russell Simmons or Wolfgang Puck. Nevertheless, all have become immensely wealthy, successful, and intelligent, and all without higher-level degrees. These distinguished people are innovative and brilliant, and did not feel that their dreams were worth the four-year wait.

If not college, then what?
Instead of attending a university, one could author a book, start a business, or become an inventor. He could attend a certificate program that could lead to a job as an automotive service technician, insurance agent, real estate agent, or emergency medical technician, just to name a few. He could work to improve the world by joining the Peace Corps, becoming a missionary, defending the nation by working in the army, or exploring the world by taking a year off and going backpacking in Europe. He could even just immerse himself into the real world by working. With youth comes the luxury of time, ability and energy…the opportunities are limitless!

Still unconvinced?
If you’re still convinced that college is the only way to live and succeed, take a look at some of these jobs that, according to Forbes, make just as much, if not more, than the average college graduate.

1) Administrative/Executive Assistant
Average Salary: $50,220
Outlook: +12%

2) Electrician
Average Salary: $53,030
Outlook: +23%

3) Industrial Machine Repairer
Average Salary: $47,500
Outlook: +19%

4) Paralegal/Legal Assistant
Average Salary: $50,220
Outlook: +18%

5) Web Developer
Average Salary: $66,100
Outlook: +22%

College is not a path that guarantees a person wealth and prosperity. High school students should not feel pressured to pursue a path that is not meant to be, and should instead open their minds to all the possibilities that exist for them. The expectation to attend a university for the sake of pride or societal norms should not be the deciding factor.

Cresonia Hsieh a first-year journalism student at the University of Florida and contributing writer to the Good News. She may be reached at [email protected]

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One Response to “Is College Worth It?”

  1. kurtkelley

    My experience has been that if your major was in a liberal arts or Christian ministry field, it was NOT worth it. Especially as a mature adult. Back in 2006, I had been working in a FEMA grant funded program called Project HOPE/Hurricane Wilma. Our objective was community outreach in hurricane damaged neighborhoods, and implimenting educational hurricane awareness programs. At the end of 2006, the grant expired, hence, the job was over. I loved that job, and had hoped I would be able to find a similar kind of position in social services. However, I was told that without a bachelors degree, I would not be considered.

    I lived in downtown West Palm Beach, and heard about the evening ministry degree program at Palm Beach Atlantic, University, which was walking distance from my apartment. I looked into it, and seeing that they accepted most of my ‘gen-ed’ credits from the mid 1980s, at Eastern Michigan U. I signed up. Finally, in my mid-40s, I was going to return to school and earn my long delayed B.A. degree!

    As planned, I graduated with a B.A. in Ministry May 2008. I was proud, and excited at the new world of better job opportunities that awaited me. Unfortunately, harsh reality set in quickly. I discovered that a Ministry degree was not an asset when it came to any kind of secular or state run social service agency. In fact, it had the opporite effect. Assuming that I would be offending and proselytizing every potential client, my resume would be tossed away.

    I came to accept that, but it was much harder to face the age bias churches have in their hiring. I guess I should have known that, after observing clear preferences the larger churches had for both hiring and reaching younger folks. At one major non-denominational church in Palm Beach County, it seemed the only criteria for being hired on staff in most positon was to be under 30. I remember playing bass for the worship in several different venues and ministries as a volunteer. Only later I discovered that I was the ONLY volunteer on stage. Everyone else was either on staff, or a paid intern. I was also the only one besides the pastor who was over 40.

    Now its October 2013, 5 and a half years after I graduated, and I have yet to find any kind of paid position that was remotely related to the degree I still owe student loans for. In fact, I am making a living playing music, both secular, and in a church. But I am an entirely self taught/God-gifted musician. I never had a lesson in my life, nor can I read a note of music. I didnt even need a high school diploma to do what Im doing now.

    So I can say with a hearty NO, that college was NOT worth my investment of time, effort, research, studying, and paying off loans for an investment there has been no return on. Perhaps colleges should be more honest and upfront about the realities of limited opportunities for adults like me who returns to school in midlife. Especially in church and ministry related curriculums. I might have passed on returning to school, had I been aware of the lack of opportunities for a 40 something college grad.

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