Students today are taking risks to have better and brighter futures. Michael Dannenberg and Mamie Voight state that, “for the neediest students there is not aid to confront frightening levels of debt, debt of such a scale that it scores too many away from college altogether” (5). The concept of this quotation is that college is discouraging students who need the most financial support. Students I know would much rather work than attend college because that time spent in a classroom can be time spent working. Debt is another major factor students have to carry with them throughout their lives just because they want to pursue a higher education and become better citizens. Students are choosing to go to college despite it being such an expense because they feel socially pressured and they want to become successful, but these choices can also bring well-educated students, debt, self-worth, and a great career.
The first cause is that students are expected or pressured into attending college right after high school. Most students I know were not ready to go to college right after high school but are doing so because they felt constrained. Even before I graduated high school my parents always spoke to me about going to college and pursuing a higher education. For me, coming from a middle class family and being a first-generation student, there has always been that fear of judgment from others saying middle class students do not make it to graduation. Moreover, that fear of failing myself and the people who have supported me is always frightening. I want to make my family proud and I want them to see how much I have sacrificed to have a better future. In regards to the pressure I have received, my parents have always told me the outcomes of attending college which is that I will be a smart and well-educated person. Instead of feeling pressured I should feel grateful that that my parents are pushing me to have a better life then they have. I should feel appreciated of them pressuring me to give myself more than what they could have given me. They want me to be more informed on what is going on in the world and they know with a college degree anything is accomplishable. When I graduate I hope to share my success with them. A family friend of mine, who was a first-generation student as well, also felt socially pressured into attending college. She said it was tough at first because she was not financially ready and ended up taking out loans that she should not have. She graduated with a business degree from Cal Lutheran four years ago and is living successfully in Oregon. Even though she is succeeding in her career, her outcome of attending college is that she is still struggling to pay off her debt. It is shocking to see that four years after graduating, loans ae still haunting her. She said that her education was well worth it and her debt will be paid off when the time comes. Furthermore, there are many elderly people today who are still in debt. Natalie Kitroeff emphasizes that, “Merklein is among the more than 2 million Americans age 60 and older carrying student debt,” (1). Eric Merklein, who was a baby boomer, is 60 years old and is still trying to pay off his student debt. Merklein thought he was debt free because his grandmother presented him with an envelope that stated his loan was paid (2). The government is still taking portions from his Social Security check. It is ridiculous on how debt will always be there to haunt students.
Another cause for students deciding to pursue higher education is to become successful in the future. Students want to have a stable job and be doing what they enjoy for the rest of their lives. Most of my friends’ families attended college and are doing well in life. Mark D. Jacobson acknowledges that, “the goal of these with a fixed belief is to look smart, whereas the goal of those with a growth belief is to get smarter” (1). In other words, people who strive to get better are the ones who are more motivated and want to achieve higher education. One friend said in order for her to be as successful, college was the best choice for her to have the career she really wanted of being a physician’s assistant. She is graduating from Sacramento State this year and is working her way into becoming a successful physician’s assistant. It has been a long process for her, which has taken her seven years of school, even when she managed to take a gap year. My friend loves what she does and enjoys making a difference. The greatest outcome for her was that her last two years of college were free. She applied for various types of financial aid and received a lot of grants and scholarships that helped pay for her education. My friend had to maintain a certain grade point average in order to receive her grants and scholarships. She said that she does not have to worry about any debt following her because she was fortunate enough to receive a lot of support from financial aid.
Overall, students who choose to take the college path is not always a smooth sailing. There is always a positive and a negative, which in this case debt was the negative and well-educated citizens was the positive effect. When a graduate has accomplished college and has that degree in the palm of their hand they will have a better understanding of who they are and a stronger identity within themselves. Students are going to realize that in order to have a better career and become successful, pursuing higher education is the only great option. It does not matter what option students take, there will always be risk factors. In the end, all of these challenges will be worth it with the higher education us students have received.