So, College Really Worth the Hassle?
College graduation in today’s society seems to be the new high school graduation. A Student is considered to be full-time when enrolled in at least 12 credit hours worth of classes in both the fall and spring semesters; for each of these hours the student is estimated to have at least 2 hours of work to do outside of class per week. So a student with 12 enrolled credit hours takes on 36 hours worth of class work per week. Many majors and programs offer require more than 12 credit hours per semester in order to graduate in a timely manner. On top of having this time investment, the national average for monetary debt reaches $29,400 per student graduating with a bachelor’s degree according to CNNMoney. There are many different ways for a student to get in debt, and it can happen fast. However, there are a few ways for students to make money while in school. After a student graduates from college, their specific major chosen has a major impact on the potential income they can make with their degree. The needs for certain positions in society have also changed in today’s modern society than they were in the previous decades and generations. On top of all of these aspects of college debt and income potentials, should the individual institutions be held responsible for informing their students on how they can accomplish obtaining their degree debt free?
1.) 29,400 of anything sounds like a lot, but when it is $29,400 worth of debt piled up over a period of 4-5 years and gets dumped on a jobless student all at once it can be terribly overwhelming. According to the Birmingham Business Journal, Alabama as an individual state averages $26,450 worth of debt for a bachelors degree graduate. For comparison, that places Alabama at number 24 out of 50 states. The lower the ranking means the state averages a lower average debt amount. New Mexico is number one in the nation averaging $17,994 while Delaware brings up the rear of the pack with $33,649.
2.) Obviously there are students across the nation getting trapped in debt, but how are they doing it? There are four main ways to gather money for school, some are free and some cost a pretty penny. The first of the four is work-studies; what these are is basically a job given to a student by an institution that is purposed to help the student working pay for school. The next is grants; they’re basically awarded to students who don’t have the means to both live and pay for school. Grants are generally awarded to those well below the poverty level, and they tend to be hard to get due to the circumstances an individual has to face in day-to-day life. There is another way to get free money for college whether you are dirt poor or filthy rich, and that is by scholarships. They’re awarded to those who have outstanding talents both in the classroom and on the field. Students can also apply for privately funded scholarships awarded by many businesses and other groups. The last avenue for school funding is by getting student loans. These loans can be rather risky in the end though; it can be hard to really understand at 18 years old that you are officially in debt to someone for thousands of dollars. Even with new regulations and less restrictive loan requirements it’s still a challenge to borrow all of the money that you actually need for school every semester. Many face a remaining balance left over that student loans accompanied with all they other forms of borrowing they have elected to receive simply didn’t pay for.
3.) School isn’t just an investment in a monetary sense but, greater in a time sense. All around the world there are schools filled with students as young as three years old enrolled in a plethora of institutions. In the United States students are likely to become involved with learning in a school or classroom setting around the age of 5 in kindergarten. After this time period the young children will go through the whole public education system that is in place for general education of American citizens, taking approximately twelve years to complete. Beyond these twelve years of education is when the students get into the realm of private education provided by private and public colleges and universities. Once an individual student applies and is accepted into their chosen university they start a journey on expensive further education. An individual can gain anything from a technical certification to a doctorate degree in a specialized area of study. A technical certification can be gained in around two years and has a generally open job market upon completion. A doctorate degree can take upwards of twelve years to achieve from the first semester of college education to walking across the stage at graduation, depending on the desired degree. There obviously are a variety of other avenues a student can take on their journey of academic success. School takes more commitment and involvement than almost any other thing we come across or partake in during our lives. It is detrimental for the person considering making the jump into higher education to really think about if the time will be worth it to them.
4.) Any form of education beyond public education is going to be expensive. According to collegecalc.com online colleges start out at $720 for a year’s worth of courses. The highest total cost of attendance in the nation is Sarah Lawrence in New York State, with a price tag of $61,836 per year. On top of paying for school after graduation after their stay, the average student will find many other expenses become important while still in school. If they don’t have enough money from the loans or scholarships to cover expenses like gas and food then they have to find another form of income while they go to class full time. If they decide to move out of their parents home in order to go to school they have a greater variety of potential expenses they need to cover in order just to live; including rent, electricity, groceries, gas, and other household bills. Some have to spend their summers working and saving what they make in order to pay it, while others spend valuable time during the semesters of class working part-time, or even in some cases, full-time jobs in order to make ends meet.
There are 168 hours in a week; if a student has class 16 of those for semester hours then that leaves 152. Let’s say that they have two hours worth of homework for every semester hour they are enrolled for, so 32 hours worth of homework on top of the 16 in class, leaving 120. But in order to accomplish paying all of their bills they have to work 35 hours a week on average, leaving 85. If they have a half-hour commute to and from campus everyday of class they are left with about 81 hours. Take away 8 hours of sleep a night (if they’re lucky) and that leaves 25. If they are committed to staying fit despite all the temptations around them, they can spend upwards of two hours a day in the gym, cutting 25 down to 11. Many students tend to go back to visit home on the weekends, spending a few hours on the trip there and back. Just the drive home cuts 11 down to five. At the end of the week the student has from 11-5 hours a week to battle the stresses of having to pay their bills and still manage to stay on top of schoolwork, and this is ignoring the fact that some students have other major responsibilities in their life such as having children among other things. According to Bankrate, Inc, on average 57% of full time college students are also maintaining full time jobs to battle the growing costs of school of going to school and living. If these students were able to focus solely on school or solely on work, their performance in both would rise dramatically. Leo Widrich explains in an article he posted online a couple years ago that people are really terrible multitaskers. He explains how people aren’t ever really getting more work done, but “that they feel better about what they do accomplish” due to the fact that they have so much going on at once. If people are forced to multitask with the demands of higher education and working a fulltime job to make ends meet, there is no way that they are accomplishing either one of them to the best of their ability.
5.) Aside from college or other forms of education being such a large investment in both time and money, many employers are seeking those with more experience over those with more educational qualifications. Since times are changing so drastically, employers are realizing that they have the ability to give someone the means to go to class or achieve a technical degree but they cannot give the employee valuable experience in the work environment they are faced with. Employers understand that higher education isn’t as valuable as it was in years past due to the fact that it’s so wide spread now. Many people see college as a necessity instead of a valuable post high school option. According to payscale.com, the average degree holder with one year of experience or less brings home around $44k a year, whereas someone who holds the exact same position but has say, 17 years of experience in that position can make upwards of $21k more a year at $65k. The only way to gain experience in a certain field is to have someone give you a chance to work and gain it. If employers around the world see experience as a more valuable attribute for an employee to have than education then what sense does it make to even go to college? Although many college programs offer things such as work-studies and internships, many are hard to be accepted into due to the student population’s demand for the positions that are there to be had. No one really looks at a diploma the same way as they have in years past. In the modern era job market, an individual really have to sit down and evaluate what is more valuable to them personally. They have to consider if taking the risk of getting early experience is worth the potential of never making it through to complete a full college degree.
6.) Universities have a connection with the students who go there that is unlike any other. They have the best chance to help the students understand how much going to school is really costing them and could potentially help them understand how to manage the debt they’re accumulating while in school. Many could argue that the universities across the nation have a responsibility to help the students come to terms with this. If they are in charge of making sure the students are well educated in arithmetic, grammar, and articulating ideas, why are they not offering education in various facets of life that the graduating students will go through post graduation? If the students were better educated on the borrowing process and how to manage school expenses then surely they average graduate’s debt of $29,400 according to CNNMONEY would decrease. If it didn’t decrease the student borrowing the money would have a better understanding about what they are actually doing. Going to school and exceeding in the various courses available to be taken is hard enough, let alone the fact that the majority of students enrolled in the courses aren’t exactly aware of what all is happening behind the scenes that is allowing them to be there. Sure that one course could cost the student more in the short term in the sense of that semester’s tuition bill, but it has the potential to pay off more than the course itself over the time the student is in school and helps them better understand how to pay off their debt entirely.
With all the complications of life in today’s society there is really only one way to decide if going to school is going to be worth it or not, and that is so sit down and consider it for yourself. No one can make someone else want anything, and that includes a college degree. Going to school and getting the degree can be one of the hardest things an individual can accomplish in life, but the time spent working for it will only be rewarded. There are obviously other ways to make money in life that don’t require a college degree, but over time the degree can only be beneficial. In order for an individual to go to school, they need to understand a few different things: First is that college or tech school is probably unlike any other kind of free education they have ever been offered. Second is that in order to have the drive to stay in school you need to understand why you are in school and what you are working for. Third is that you have to understand how to make money with your degree. Just because you have a piece of paper with your name on it hanging on a wall doesn’t give you anything over anyone else in today’s job market. Nobody gets handouts in the real world; you have to work for everything you get whether it is in the classroom or in the work force. College is ultimately worth the trouble if the end result is worth the troubled journey to get there. Nothing worth having comes easy.
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