Anyone who has paid to attend college in the last ten years should have noticed its costs going through the roof! Once work begins after graduation, it has become normal to start your first day in massive amounts of debt. This makes choosing your field of studying as an 18-year-old much more important. Unfortunately it’s not what most 18-year-olds are worried about!
I’ve looked at numerous studies to form an opinion on whether college is either:
A.) still worth it, or
B.) even necessary?
Time to dive into this week’s post!
Benefits of College
There’s a reason college is still the most coveted option post high school graduation. Let’s compare the job markets and salaries for different education levels in 2015 from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES):
- 78% of young adults (ages 25-34) with a bachelor’s degree worked full-time year round in 2015.
- 69% of young adults (ages 25-34) with a high school diploma or equivalent worked full-time job year round in 2015.
- From 2000-2015, young adults with higher education resulted in higher median earnings:
- Median earnings of young adults in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree was $50,000
- Median earnings of young adults in 2015 with a high school diploma or equivalent was $30,000.
- Median earnings of young adults in 2015 who did not complete high school was $25,000
- Median earnings of young adults in 2015 with a master’s degree was $60,000.
College degrees CAN provide you with a higher salary, as well as more job opportunities. Two main points need to be considered before making your final decision if college is right for you: your degree and school of choice.
Your Degree Matters
It puzzles me when people spend tons of money at a four-year university to obtain a useless degree, then are disappointed in their job offers or lack there of.
It’s been shown that harder and more difficult degrees are worth the money. Below is a list of five bachelor’s degrees with the highest starting salaries (Forbes):
- Computer Science ($70,000)
- Electrical Engineer ($68,438)
- Mechanical Engineer ($68,000)
- Chemical Engineer ($65,000)
- Industrial Engineer ($64,381)
Engineering or any type of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) degrees most likely pay off in the long run. Not saying other degrees aren’t worth it, but STEM degrees are currently in demand and their salaries show for it. Fair warning, since STEM degrees are a hot commodity and more students are pursuing them, these courses will usually be tougher!
School of Choice and How It Relates to Loans
If you look at prestigious schools in the U.S., their out-of-state tuition is outrageous. You could easily use up over $100,000 in loans, depending on your tenure in college. Most students attending these schools are either a.) on scholarships, b.) have financial backing from family, or c.) believe it’s worth getting in boat loads of debt.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provided information including the average total tuition, fees, room and board from 2014-2015 for public and private institutions (private schools are usually more expensive):
- 4 year institution average was $25,409 for 2014-2015.
- 2 year institution average was $10,153 for 2014-2015.
Based on this, I’d advise attending community college for entry-level courses to cut down on costs (pending that these courses transfer). One to two years of community college can save you $15,000-30,000!
Your school of choice and how much money you spend will determine your financial situation after college. Students don’t seem to realize how loans can seriously set you back and just see it as “free” money. Even worse, loan statistics are getting worse year after year. From Student Loan Hero):
- $1.48 trillion in student loan debt spread out across 44 million borrowers in the U.S.
- About 40% of this was used to finance graduate and professional degrees.
- Class of 2016 had an average student loan debt of about $37,172.
So what to do?
Spending money on obtaining a college degree can be worth it, especially if it’s in a good job market. If you decide to attend college, cut down on costs by attending community colleges or two-year universities. Highly consider how much you are willing to pay for graduate degrees. You not only have to account for money spent on school but also the costs of not being able to begin or advance your career. Most importantly, money used to pay back interest from loans, let’s say over a 10 year span, could be money used to start a new business, invest in housing/real estate, or raise a family.
For entrepreneurs trying to start their own business, I’d advise skipping college. Get your business running instead of focusing on a degree. It’s honestly a waste of valuable time and resources. Plus, real life lessons in business are much more valuable than what any college professor can teach you.
So is college worth it? Yes.
It is necessary? Hell no.
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“If the college you visit has a bookstore filled with t-shirts rather than books, find another college.”
Book of the Month: “What Every Body Is Saying” by Joe Navarro