Most Americans don’t think twice about the purchase of a home. The average person views mortgage payments as the key to the prestigious American dream. The common outlook of home ownership and the decision between owning a home versus renting, in most cases, brings no doubt about the choice to make. When it comes to obtaining a college degree and investing in one’s own mind, people say that going into debt is not worth it because there is no guarantee that you will find a job. Although the pursuit of a college degree can be challenging and student loan debt seems overwhelming, a college degree is a sound investment that will benefit anyone willing to put in the time and effort needed to obtain it.
While planning for college, having a clear goal with a solid financial plan is essential for success. This is true regardless of where the funds come from: scholarships, an established college fund, or taking on loans. Tuition can vary greatly, depending if you go to a private college or state school. It is important to factor in cost of living and include: rent, food, clothing, transportation, emergencies, entertainment, and any other regular bills you have. While some people may choose to work and support these expenses, the decision to do so may be more damaging than beneficial. If a job cuts too far into study time causing a sacrifice to grades or prolonging the amount of time it takes to graduate, then not working will better suit you. It would be justifiable to borrow in order to cover expenses if you are an adult student with children and a job would leave no time for your family. If working can be maintained while achieving balance and scholastic success, then of course this is the way to go. With stringent planning and the determination to successfully complete your studies, student loans make sense. In any situation where you borrow money, it is important to be diligent about the reality of your situation. To take on student loans responsibly, it’s important that you don’t borrow more than you can expect to make the first year after graduation. You should be diligent to cut expenses where you can. Most importantly, do everything possible to ensure you graduate successfully and in a timely manner.
In the modern world we live in today, technology often moves faster than what people can keep up with. Education is becoming necessary to compete for any job, let alone a job that brings satisfaction and financial prosperity. In the article “Skills, With No Credential, Are No Longer Enough,” Kevin Carey argues, “It is very difficult to earn a decent living in the modern economy without a concrete set of skills and a credential to back them up.” It is no secret that technology advances almost by the second. How often have you bought the latest phone, and the very next day realize that a newer version is being marketed? In order to keep up with the information driven world we live in, it is imperative to leverage oneself with extended education; a degree ensures personal confidence and outward credibility.
A college graduate earns more money throughout their lifetime, as opposed to the high school graduate. In David Leonhardt’s article “Is College Worth it, Clearly New Data Say” he proclaims, “The average hourly wage for college graduates has risen only 1 percent over the last decade, to about $32.60. The pay gap has grown mostly because the average wage for everyone else has fallen 5 percent, to about $16.50.” Remember, Leonhardt is giving the average. There are people making far more as well as those making far less on each side of the spectrum. While there is no guarantee that a degree will place the high paying job in your lap, the skills learned through college will greatly enhance your chance of success in any job you apply for. Skills such as confidence; having a general overall knowledge with an in-depth understanding of your major; the ability to speak professionally and think critically. These assets will not only help you become a better you but will also increase your professed value. An employer is more likely to hire an individual with intellect, drive, and motivation, as opposed to a slacker. They will choose the candidate who has the ability to relate well and get along with people over the narcissist. Employers will pick the person who is creative, and passionate, safe, and committed. All of these skills that employers seek are fine-tuned through the college experience.
Some people may choose an alternate path and find success through entrepreneurship, entertainment, investing, inventing, etc. Alison Griswold’s article “The Dropout Fallacy” highlights some of the most successful college dropouts, or those who never attended college at all. Griswold highlights powerful icons such as, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah, and many more. All of whom are often viewed as inspiration to those who fancy the idea of mega wealth, and want to reject school as being a means to success. Griswold talks about Peter Thiel’s fellowship grant, which was created to prove that people don’t need a degree to achieve financial success. She states, “The Thiel fellowship launched in 2011 with the mission of creating a radical re-thinking of what it takes to succeed and improve the world. By encouraging students to postpone or abandon their studies, the Thiel Fellowship aims to show once and for all that a college education is not the only path to success” (Griswold). The sad reality is that these people are the exception, not the rule. There is overwhelming data that supports the fact that an education can stabilize a secure spot for future employment. By pursuing an education during an entrepreneurial endeavor, schooling will certainly add to a person’s credibility, not take away from it. Everyone should pursue their passion and achieve their goals in life. Education only adds to the process. Even in areas where a degree is not “mandatory”, a degree will make a person more valuable. Knowledge is priceless. If you were to exchange a dollar bill with another person, then you would each have a dollar. If you were to exchange an idea with the same person, you would each have two ideas. Knowledge is power, and power creates wealth. Money is a commodity made of paper and can be easily destroyed. While success is highly individual, most people would not wish to unlearn things they know. Schooling provides more than just wealth. You will be equipped with the foundation to build on your dreams; the world will see you as having the credentials to do so.
Of course, some people who have experienced the negative effects of debt may oppose these views. Parents may dissuade their children, and prospective students may be discouraged from pursuing an education, in fear of debt. This concern is certainly justifiable, in an uncertain economy, and borrowing needlessly is never a smart financial decision. However, when borrowing is the only means by which one is capable of obtaining a degree, then doing so in a responsible manner will create a more certain path than neglecting to do so otherwise would. It is important to note that borrowing for an education is completely different from consumer debt built on credit cards. When planned right, borrowing for an education is a smart and sensible decision that will have an impact on the entirety of your life. It does however take commitment. As noted on “All Things Considered,” Block states, “What’s worse than being a graduate with lots of student loan debt? Having lots of student loans and no degree. More than 40 percent of millennials who describe themselves as having some college have such debt” (For Millions). Going to school when you borrow money and stopping before completion is one of the worst financial decisions a person can make. Most people wouldn’t buy a home, then continue to rent and leave the house empty and unoccupied. Why, then, borrow for school and not finish? This will cause much stress and grief as student loans cannot be removed with bankruptcy. Therefore, before choosing this route make sure you are committed to follow through until the end.
A lot of hype and fear has been the result of the media highlighting masses of people with high student loan debt, who are unable to find adequate employment. Understandably, a person seeing this may wonder whether a college education is worth the risk. However, it is important to remember that an investment in yourself is not a risk. The only real risk of a college journey is not taking it seriously and gaining nothing from the experience. Meandering through, paying little attention to the material presented, will not be very effective. You have an opportunity to find your true passion. If you listen and pay attention to yourself through the process, then many doors of opportunity will be opened to you.
There are many factors that make college an investment worth any obstacle that may arise. Research continually supports the fact that a college graduate makes more over their lifetime than an individual that ended the educational path upon completion of high school. A degree gives a person credibility that otherwise would not be established. Completing a bachelor’s program also inspires an individuals growth, allowing the fruition of passions, which may be hidden, to surface. While the benefits of college far outweigh any risks involved, this paper aims to list a mere few of the exponential values a degree offers. Highlighting the true value of earning a degree and encouraging people to suppress their fear, buckle down, and embark on the greatest investment available to make… yourself!
Carey, Kevin. “Skills, With No Credential, Are No Longer Enough.” New York Times. The New York Times. 1 Mar. 2012. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.
Griswold, Alison. “The Dropout Fallacy.” Slate. The Slate Group LLC. 23 May 2014. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.
Leonhardt, David. “Is College Worth It? Clearly, New Data Say.” New York Times. The New York Times. 27 May 2014. Web. 15 Mar. 2015
“For Millions Of Millennials: Some College, No Degree, Lots Of Debt.” All Things Considered. 19 Nov. 2014. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 17 Mar. 2015.