Is College Really Worth it?

Ethan Davis and Maika Grey


by Ethan Davis and Maika Grey

As we enter our high school years, many of us begin to think about our future, and like most Americans, a higher education. For some, college seems like a no brainer, especially if you are considering a STEM career. For others, like those who are not sure of which career path to take, college can be a big question mark hovering in our brains. If you are one of these people, a major question you may be having at this time of your life may be, “Is college really worth it?” Being a question with such vague and situational answers, it is hard to have a clear answer for yourself. Here are some benefits and downsides of attending college.

One thing that scares many of us away from college, is the shocking price tag. Shopping for the future can be a great investment, but for some, a financial burden. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2014, the average student loan debt was $33,000. After factoring inflation, that is double the amount it was 20 years ago. Consequently, many people in their 30’s are finding that they cannot apply for a home because of their student loans. According to the American Institute of CPAs, “41% of respondents have postponed contributions to retirement plans due to student loan debt. Forty percent have delayed car purchases, and 29% put off buying a house. Another 15% have postponed marriage.” People are having to postpone life goals and ambitions in order to deal with their crippling debt. The cost, however, is not the only downside to consider when deciding your future with higher education. 

You do not need a college degree in order to be successful. In fact, 1 in 3 college graduates find themselves working a job that requires only a high school diploma or less. According to the center of college affordability and productivity, there are 16,000 parking lot attendants, over 83,000 bartenders, 15,000 janitors and more than 15 percent of taxi drivers have a four-year college degree or more. It is also possible to earn a lot of money without a college degree. Some examples include Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group; Charles Culpepper, owner and CEO of Coca Cola; Ellen Degeneres, comedian and actress; Michael Dell, founder of Dell, Inc.; Walt Disney, Disney Corporation founder; Bill Gates, Microsoft founder; Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple; Wolfgang Puck, chef and restauranteur; Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple; Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. Some jobs that earn over 50k a year are real-estate brokers, postal-service mail carriers, boilermakers, subway and streetcar operators, electrical-power-line installers and repairers, and many more. The point is, it is still possible to earn a decent wage without a college degree, student loan and delayed milestones. 

Now for the other side of the debate. The question, “is college still worth it” has been rising lately. Nobody really knows if it is, and if the investment and student debt is worth it all. 

One big thing about going to college is money. Not how much you’ve spent on it but how much you would make after you graduate. According to the Federal Reserve, “the average college graduate earns $78,000 per year, compared to $45,000 for those with only a high school diploma, which represents a premium of $33,000.” If you’ve worked hard enough for a good degree, you could be raking in money, and fast. According to Saint Leo University, “ A bachelor’s degree graduate earns $17,500 more per year than a high school graduate”. To sum this up, you would be making less money in the future if you don’t have a degree. You would need to know what you are doing for your degree; if you don’t know how to do things, which are taught in college, how would you know? The information given by colleges helps you better understand more things and lets you be more focused, giving you the opportunity to make more money. 

Another thing about having a degree is the ability to find a job. Saint Leo University stated, “Only 3.8 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates are unemployed, compared with 12.2 percent of high school graduates and 8.1 percent of students with some college or a two-year degree.” Your degree will help you be more likely to find a good job, and one that is both enjoyable and pays great.  College will overall make your future better for yourself and a possible family. Having a good job that you like is important; if you don’t like it you would most likely be miserable all the time, and pass that on to others. If you have a family, this part is essential because it’s best to be stable both mentally and financially to have a great life. 



Now that you’ve read both sides of the argument, “Is College Really Worth It?” it’s a good time to actually dig deep into this subject.  As said above, there’s different things that would be better with or without a college degree, but the final decision is up to you.