Is College Really Worth It?

Alex Van Brocklin, Senior Staff Writer

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       With a lot of questions on student’s minds as they begin to move on from high school, they start to wonder about where they want to go to college, which college is the best for their particular needs, and in what they want to major. Not to mention that college is heavily encouraged by our school, with the implementation of advisory into the schedule. But a question that is really not asked is, “Why should I go to college?” This is a very seldom asked question, due to a few factors.  One of which being, that for the most part, there is an assumption that all high school graduates will go to college at some point in their lives. This is not necessarily the truth, as many will jump straight into the workforce, or join the military and never go to college. I think that the student’s decisions to either go or not go, should be completely up to them.

       All though I am against “strong recommendations” for post high school life, there is a myriad of benefits from going to college. College is a new and exciting experience for everyone, filled with new people, a new environment, and above all, a way to major what you want to do in life. These are turn-ons for high school grads, and it is really easy to understand why college holds such an appeal.

         A wise adult once told me that your twenties are perhaps the most important years in your life for numerous reasons. You can have the most fun because you are still young, and you also generally figure out what you want do at the end of them. Though not necessarily the case for everyone, this is extremely beneficial for people that are lost in translation. Colleges also appeal to many high school students because of all the opportunities that they offer.  This includes all of the cultural events, and extracurricular activities that are offered, from sports, esports, fraternities and even clubs. Colleges do not hold back on giving their students enjoyable experiences, however this may not be quite the life you want.

       One aspect that is almost always mentioned with the association of college, is money. According to a study taken by Collegeboard.org, the average cost of a four year, in-state college, is $9,410 on an annual basis.  The numbers are even more staggering if you are interested in a out-of-state college.  On average, it is $23,890 annually to enroll out-of-state. This is quite a hefty fee to pay for college. However large the numbers might be, this is not the case for everyone, as financial assistance is available for most, if not all students through scholarships. But keep in mind, most of the time you will still have to pay for a majority of your college fees. Students generally resort to working a part-time job, or student loans.  Both of these can be effective, but both have their drawbacks.

       Working a part-time job is probably the safest option to get your degree. A plus is that it puts money in your pocket. College students struggle all across the country, eating Ramen noodles, and drinking less than grade A water, so if you can get a job that will not interfere with your education, the choice is yours to take it or not. It is also a good thing that jobs keeps you busy, and out of trouble.                    

          Free time is something that is commonly found on universities, so spending your time for the better of yourself is certainly a good way to go about it. Studying is important, but sometimes a good break is worth it. Another great thing about getting a job, is that you are receiving money that you do not have to pay back. Once the money is earned, it is secure for you to do whatever you wish with it.  That can be for anything, whether it be paying for all the Mountain Dew you can drink, dropping out, or as I would recommend, your tuition. The problem with getting a job in college, is that it could feel overwhelming at times. I know this personally as during sophomore year, I was working five days a week, while trying to keep my grades up, and they went on a slow decline as I wanted to keep working. It was really tough for me to ask for less hours, but it ended up being beneficial, as my grades went back up to their normal standard. As stated before, there is more free time at a university, but being overwhelmed is not something that is completely avoidable.

       On the other hand, taking loans is an option. When you might be in a fix, a loan could be available for you to use. The main problem about this is that often the loans are not paid for for years, so the students who just wanted to receive an education, now have thousands of dollars in loans to pay back that have accumulated over the years. This is a major dent into the pockets of students and graduates, and adds a lot of stress into their lives. I would not recommend this route as the drawbacks outweigh the gains in some cases, but it would be possible to potentially have a mix of a job and loans that could work out in the end.  

         The choice is up to you, but if I am calling the shots, I would make sure that I am going to school for the exact thing that I want to do, along with getting a job to help pay for it. College is worth it if you know the exact plan you have, but if you are unsure about what you want to do and how you want to do it, it is not the worst idea to take a break for a year or two, go to community college for a while, or just do not go at all.  Preparation is key to being successful.