Is College a Waste of Money?

A college diploma has become a social norm that may or may not be worthwhile in today’s job market. It requires a significant amount of time and (most likely) debt that will take years to repay. An associate’s or bachelor's degree, on the other hand, can pay off in the long term. In this article, we discuss a few important things to think about while determining whether or not college is right for you.

Key Takeaways

A college diploma has become a social norm that may or may not be worthwhile in today’s job market. It requires a significant amount of time and (most likely) debt that will take years to repay. An associate’s or bachelor's degree, on the other hand, can pay off in the long term. In this article, we discuss a few important things to think about while determining whether or not college is right for you.

College graduates have higher employment rates, higher wages, and more job perks than high school graduates, according to proponents of higher education. They also claim that college graduates have superior interpersonal skills, live longer, have healthier children, and have demonstrated their capacity to accomplish a big goal.

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People who believe that college is not worth it argue that student loan debt is excessively high, preventing graduates from saving for retirement, purchasing a home, or marrying. They claim that many successful people did not attend college and that many jobs, particularly in the trades, do not require a college diploma.

The big question hence is, if college is a good investment? Or is it a waste of time and money to go to college?

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Is college a waste of time and money?

As soon as the colonists arrived in America from Europe and created "New College" (later renamed Harvard University) in 1636, the American debate over whether a college degree is worthwhile began. 

In the United States today, there are around 20 million college students, and over 44 million borrowers owe a total of $1.5 trillion in student debt.

According to the College Board, the average total cost of attending a public school for in-state students is $26,820 per year, whereas total costs for private universities are $54,880 per year.

Depending on the type of institution you attend, your degree will cost between $107,280 and $219,520 if you finish in four years.

Even if you qualify for financial aid, such as scholarships and grants, the cost of education can be prohibitive. Make sure you ask yourself, "Is college worth it for me?" before paying your registration costs.

One good option out there is a community college. 

These government-subsidized colleges can help you get a degree at a tenth of the cost of private or public 4-year universities. These colleges also have payment plans and are easier than a university.

Related: 8 Reasons Traditional Student Loan Debt is Not Worth It and Better Alternatives

Community College Students
Photo by Armin  Rimoldi from Pexels

Pros and cons of going to college

Here are some arguments for both points of view for you to consider before you make a decision.

Arguments in favor of college

Is college worth it? College is a worthwhile investment for many people. A college degree provides the following benefits in addition to gaining useful life experience and making lifelong connections:

1. People with a college diploma make more money

It is widely recognized and understood that attending university leads to improved professional opportunities, particularly in terms of pay.

As an example, consider the United States. Americans with a college diploma earn around 570,000 USD more over the course of their lives than those with only a high school diploma.

2. Employment opportunities that require a university diploma are increasing

Many studies on education and the workforce conclude that approximately 65 percent of employment in the United States requires college graduation, with many requiring at least a Bachelor's degree.

In the long run, keep in mind that if automation is widely adopted, many positions that do not require sophisticated knowledge, creativity, or technical abilities will be automated and replaced by machines and robots. 

It is highly likely that your skilled job will be replaced by a robot in the near future.

3. You become more mature and responsible as you progress through college

Obviously, this isn't a guarantee; it all depends on you. However, most students find college life to be a culture shock. It's not like high school, where teachers try to keep track of your progress and provide specific assistance.

During your time at a university, you will be responsible for a great deal of work. Professors will not visit you to remind you of projects, tasks, or the fact that you are late with the final chapter of your thesis. 

It is your responsibility to design a schedule, stick to it, strike a balance between study and enjoyment, and avoid burnout.

4. College diplomas are a way out of poverty

This is especially true for low-income students and others who have overcome numerous obstacles throughout their lives. Despite the fact that going to college is difficult, it is the key to a better life for these students. 

They may also give back to the same underprivileged neighborhoods with a college degree because they know what it's like to be in that situation.

5. Jobs that necessitate a college diploma come with additional perks

Depending on how well established your company is, the perks that come with a job requiring a college degree keep getting better. The perks may include:

  • Bonuses besides the increased earning
  • Higher levels of job satisfaction
  • More paid vacation days
  • Work schedules that are flexible
  • Pensions in the private sector
  • The ability to work from anywhere
  • Medical insurance that is paid for privately
  • Memberships to clubs and other places like a gym
  • Psychological consultation may be provided free of charge

6. Networking, building connections, and making friends are all part of the college experience

You may meet some of the most significant people in your life during your college years: best friends, business partners, and who knows? There are various possibilities to interact, share ideas, meet individuals who share your interests, and express yourself.

You never know what will happen or how these people will affect the rest of your life. It's not about having high expectations; simply be open and don't take the special relationships you'll form as a student for granted.

Students enjoying together
Photo by Kampus Production from Pexels

Arguments against college

Now that you have heard all the arguments in favor of college, let us share with you those that are given by proponents of skipping college:

1.The cost of college is at an all-time high, as is student debt

We have already discussed this at the start of the article. The student debt problem is particularly true in the United States. Here at home and in other countries that follow a similar model, tuition has more than doubled in the previous 30 years.

It demonstrates how excessive fees and student debt can derail a student's college experience. In the US, student loans come with additional issues. 

They keep people from reaching financial independence or investing in other significant life goals such as marriage, homeownership, and automobile ownership, among others. 

On average, it takes up to 30 years to pay off the entire debt, and even if you drop out of college, you still have to repay your student loan.

2. Many jobs in the fast-growing tech industry don’t require a college degree

It may be difficult to believe, but it is true. The tech industry’s CEOs and HR specialists have realized that actual experience and abilities are more important than a three- or four-year university degree.

All of the information you need is out there, especially when it comes to programming, coding, and technology in general. You can get online courses on Linux, website development, WordPress administration, and other topics.

Related: Can you attend community college online?

Just to give you an idea, Google, Apple, IBM and Tesla are a few of the most well-known tech companies that don't require applicants to have a college diploma. This does not imply that the application procedure will be simple or that you will not be properly tested. 

You simply do not need to be concerned about obtaining an official diploma. Put your money where your mouth is if you claim to have the necessary expertise. Apply, ace the interview, and you might end up with what many consider to be a dream job.

For a list of courses that can get you a good-paying tech job quickly in the industry, visit Unmudl.

3. You might not even graduate from college

Although you may intend to graduate, the pressures of combining school, employment, family, and friends can be overwhelming for many college students.

 Only 62 percent of college students complete their degree within six years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics

And if you don't finish your degree, you've wasted thousands of dollars!

4. You might not be able to get a high-paying job with your degree

Yes, they'll all help you make money, but not all degrees are made equal. A history degree may pay $36K as a starting wage, but a mechanical engineering degree, for example, may pay twice as much. 

You should think about whether the money you'll make is worth the money you'll spend on education. Seriously, it doesn't make sense to graduate from college with $100,000 in student loan debt and then take a job paying $36,000. It doesn't require a college diploma to realize this is a bad idea.

5. Not all well-paying occupations necessitate a college diploma

Not all well-paying jobs require a college diploma. They do, however, necessitate skills, which can be acquired through a community college, online learning, workshops, internships, and even volunteer work. According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, ere are a few of the best-paying careers in the United States that don't require a 4-year college degree:

Table for Job, required Education and Salaries
Table for Job, required Education and Salaries

6. Stress in college can cause health issues and other unpleasant consequences

In a survey about stress levels, 40.2 percent of college students said they often felt overwhelmed. 

The competition for grades, the drive to perform, relationships, future job prospects, and many other components of the college atmosphere induce stress in many students. 

College stress can cause headaches, weight gain, chronic digestive disorders, fatigue, increases in blood pressure, insomnia, teeth grinding in sleep, general irritability, reoccurring feelings of hopelessness, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. 

7. Many university programs stifle students' inventiveness and limit their options

Students have complained that many academic programs and educational systems limit their originality and force them to conform to predetermined concepts, political objectives, or growth goals.

This does not apply to all universities, and some systems are more open-minded than others. However, future graduates must focus more on passing examinations, studying definitions, and theories, rather than exploring, developing their own ideas, and learning from their mistakes, leaving them with a sense of wasted potential.

Alternatives to getting a college degree

Many people believe that if you don't have a four-year college diploma, you can't succeed. 

There are alternatives to going to college that do not require you to work for minimum pay. A college diploma isn't required to work as a real estate salesperson, medical assistant, or web developer, but you will need some training. 

Enlisting in the military is also an option. If you decide to go to college later, you may be eligible for the GI Bill to fund your education costs. 

Are you prepared to run your own business and start your own company? To be in business, you don't need a business degree. Thanks to websites like eBay, Etsy, and Amazon, you can embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and start your own business in only a few minutes.

Don't forget that there are resources like Unmudl that can help you gain the critical skills required to run a business.

Final thoughts

Is college a good investment? Some people attend college because it is the standard in today's society, their parents want them to, or all of their friends and family members have done so. 

Many others, on the other hand, attend college in the hopes of achieving a better future. This is true if you combine hope with hard effort and pay for it without taking out debts.

A college education is essential or will boost your prospects of promotion in many professions. To receive a particular type of degree, you don't have to pay three times (or ten times) as much to attend a prestigious university, you have options like community colleges that can get you an associate’s degree at a tenth of the cost.

On the other hand, if you can't afford to pay cash for college or if a four-year degree isn't required for your preferred career, paying all that money for a college degree isn't worth it. A college diploma only for the sake of obtaining one will not fix your problems. You'll simply end up with a mountain of debt.

In this article, we showed you the pros and cons of going to college and we hope that it helps you make an informed decision about your future. Good luck!

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