In American society, it is sort of an expectation that kids will grow up and attend college. From a very young age, your parents and teachers vehemently urge you to work hard and achieve good grades so you can go to college.
“Why do I need to go to college?” many of you might have asked. They probably replied with something along the lines of, “So that you can get a good job and steady pay.” In other words, you should go to college if you want an advantage in life.
Of course, all families are different — some can’t afford college, and some may look for a scholarship while others may not care. However, in most middle-class families, it’s something they are willing, and even happy, to invest in.
Statistics show that college attendance rates have spiralled upwards over the years. In the early twentieth century, attending college was a rarity — an outstanding feat — and even in the seventies and eighties it was considered quite the opportunity. Harvard’s annual tuition has increased by seventeen times since the years 1971-72. We are still undergoing repercussions from 2007’s recession, and as economic inflation rises, college tuition skyrockets.
The number of employed people with only a high school education has dropped by 8% since 2007’s recession; since then, the number of college graduates employed has risen by 21% — that’s almost triple the amount of prior’s unemployed.
On the other hand, around 71% of students who attend public colleges have student loan debt after they graduate college, which is a significant strain on their financial state. Those who only graduated high school make a median of around $35,300 annually, while those with an associate’s degree tend to make an median of around $41,500 per year. Although the latter can provide around roughly six-thousand dollars more annually, paying back student loans can take a huge chunk out of that, leaving the college graduate with not as much of an advantage.
People are more likely to hire and promote you if you’re a college grad than your high school grad coworker. Employers seem to lean towards college grads for more advanced positions, so promotions are easier to get; employers also like hiring high school grads because college grads often feel more entitled to higher pay. Although, if it’s a job based on merit and not status, the high school graduate has every chance of working his way up.
In the end, it is up to you and what you wish to pursue as a career. Do you want to be a CEO at a technology company or do you wish to get married, settle down, have children, and stay at home? Maybe you want to get a full-time gig at your local pet shelter while working part-time to buy an apartment. All are valid choices, and they all will call for different levels of formal education.
There are profound pros and cons to attending college to obtain a formal education, whatever level it may be. It’s up to you what you decide to do, but I urge you to do your research and weigh the value of an education.