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In today’s day and age, college is the foremost goal for most students. They aspire to be accepted into the top schools above all else, dreaming of prestigious universities such as Harvard. Most spend absurd amounts of time, energy, and money to get accepted into the top schools. Why? Because they have been told that getting into a good college is the only way to succeed. Despite the fact that this system favors the wealthy and is usually not even worth the skyrocketing cost, most people still believe that college is the only path to success. But what if the college system was not the only route to achievement? What if the majority of students stopped dreaming about making it into an “Ivy league school” and concentrated on a wider variety of interests?
Although it is against mainstream opinion to opt for a different path, it is clear that there are superior alternatives to college that do not involve being swamped in student debt for little payoff. However, before diving into the argument, here is some general information about college and its graduates. In the spring of 2019, 3. 6 million students are expected to graduate from high school. But how many of these students will continue on to college? In the past, the number of high school graduates attending college had been on the rise for many years, but now this percentage is declining. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the high point was in 2009, when 70. 1 percent of new graduates went to college. Last year, in October 2017, just 66. 7 percent of high school graduates enrolled in universities or colleges. Could this decline mean that more people are concluding that college isn’t worth the time and money?
One of the foremost reasons one should not go to college is because of the heavy financial burden it puts upon the shoulders of students and their families. Most students do not have enough money to pay for tuition, and thus the system favors the wealthy. In fact, a tremendous 83% of Americans cannot afford college, even with financial aid. As a result, a sizable amount of students cannot afford tuition, turning to student loans to pay the ever-increasing cost of college. After college, graduates are often bogged down in debt trying to repay these loans. In recent years, college debt has become so massive that it could cause a nationwide economic crisis.
Furthermore, many students do not even graduate, wasting money and time. In addition to tuition costs, college students also have to pay in the form of time. For the years spent in college, students aren’t bringing in income – or if they are, it’s just a temporary job to make ends meet. This gives their high school graduate peers a four year head start in the workforce, which gives them four years to grow a successful business or become a manager while college graduates are working entry level jobs, struggling to pay their debt.
Although it is considered the “societal standard” to go to college, the toxic culture and lack of preparation for the real world add to the list of reasons why students should not go to college. First off, the college culture cultivates a toxic mindset and habits among young adults, such as underage and excessive drinking. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, almost 60% of college students drank alcohol monthly and nearly 2 out of 3 students engaged in binge drinking every month. In addition, major life milestones, such as living independently from parents, are delayed for young people. This is because they have to put life on hold to pay off their student debt. According to Real Trends blog, “the share of college graduates in their twenties who live with their parents increased from 19 percent in 2005 to 28 percent in 2016” (RT). In terms of society as a whole, “57% say the higher education system in the United States fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend”. This shows that there is a growing dissatisfaction with the college system. As for the lack of preparation, high school may not have prepared students for college level courses which in turn causes students to fail due to their lack of preparation for college. College also doesn’t give them an accurate representation of the real world as they are trained for perfection, which is rarely ever attained in adult life. Students are molded to expect perfection in every aspect and resultantly they are reluctant to accept disappointment and loss when faced with it.
Furthermore, college often doesn’t even prepare students for their jobs like it is supposed to. A study by The Adecco Group revealed that a colossal 74 percent of young adults believed that their colleges failed to prepare them for life in the workforce. Colleges lack preparation such as a transition period or on the job experience needed to succeed, and new hires often get a harsh reality check when they enter the real world and apply for jobs. A common misconception is that without a college degree individuals are unable to succeed or have well paying jobs. In 2017, only 77. 6 percent of young college graduates that received a bachelor’s were employed. Even if a graduate does manage to get through college and earn their degree in a certain field, they are not guaranteed a job or preparation that they need to work in that field. Additionally, the value of a college degree has decreased over the years because so many students are attending college. In many cases, college is not the most important thing considered by employers. Some employers consider job skills and industry knowledge to be more valuable than a degree. According to the Pew Research Center, “When asked what it takes for a young person to succeed in the world, 61% say a good work ethic is extremely important and 57% say the same about knowing how to get along with people. Just 42% say the same about a college education”. This shows that employers value an applicant’s character over their education when searching for new hires.
Many jobs also do not require college degrees, and many of the fastest growing jobs do not require a college diploma, such as careers requiring programming and technology experience. Nowadays, it is harder to find a skilled plumber or electrician in the modern day economy because many people are attending college instead of working simple yet necessary jobs. There are a plethora of disadvantages to attending college, so why do so many people continually choose to do so? There is a widespread misconception that attending and graduating from college will open up high paying jobs, resultantly making it less likely for graduates to be forced into poverty. But there are many different sides to this claim – due to the abundance of college graduates, many high paying jobs have fewer openings then normal jobs, making it significantly harder to land the job that one worked over four years in college to obtain. In addition, the increased availability of candidates with a college diploma has diluted its value. Employers now have the leisure to give graduates lower wages and fewer benefits since a candidate with a degree is very easy to find. The probability is very high that that one will end up with a job that pays the same as a high school graduate. Graduates could even end up unemployed. On top of this, they have student loans to pay off. In 2014, the average debt of a college graduate was 33, 000 dollars. This is more than twice of what it was 20 years before, and that’s after factoring in inflation. This pushes graduates further into debt, and even poverty.
Another reason why experts say it is a good idea to attend college is because attending college supposedly provides students with independence, which is necessary for becoming a fully functioning adult. Weighing the disadvantages against the benefits, the conclusion is that college is generally not worth the cost in terms of money, time, and energy – at least not to the degree that is causing a nationwide economic crisis. The idea that every student must go to college to be successful is simply not true, as college graduates are restricted by debt, have difficulty getting a job, and are for the most part in jobs that don’t even require their degree. Add in the additional social disadvantages of college, such as debt, delaying life milestones, and it is obvious that college is not worth it for a significant amount of the people that have been taught that to not go to college is to be a failure. Due to the fact that people are being told that they must go to college to succeed, America has a surplus of college graduates in the workforce, making jobs harder for them to find.
College may not be the best option for many, with preferable alternatives including trade schools and self-teaching. Although learning is never a waste, it can happen through more efficient means that allow for a variety of interests. For the sake of the college graduates in need of jobs, the social well-being of today’s young adults, and the financial state of this country, the fallacy that college is the one route to success needs to change.
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