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For many of us growing up, college has been defined as the gateway to success, or the only option. According to our parents and teachers, if we get into college, make decent grades and graduate, the possibility of having a career, making a decent income, and living comfortably are high. Getting a college degree is the golden ticket everyone wants, but not all can get. Though, does that golden ticket carry the plague? College is constantly criticized for being pricey, unnecessary, and worthless. However, every cloud has a silver lining.
The unemployment and underemployment rate of college graduates is at its highest. According to an Associated Press analysis from 2011, around 1.5 million, or nearly 53.6 percent of those under 25 that have bachelor’s degree were unemployed or underemployed—the highest it has been in 11 years. Students who consider themselves underemployed feel that they currently have a job for which there degrees were not necessary. For example, there is a history graduate brewing your favorite non-fat, skim, vanilla latte at the local coffee shop, or the geography graduate teaching Pilates classes to housewives at a fitness studio.
College is also extremely expensive. The College Board reports that a moderate budget, including tuition, fees, housing, meals, and books at a public university is averaged at $26,261. Students are racking up incredible amounts of debt to receive a diploma, while questioning if it all was worth it. However, 85 percent of college graduates believe their college education was worth every penny they paid out of pocket or borrowed.
Currently, the average amount of student loan debt a recent graduate carries is already $27,000. There has been talk of doubling interest rates from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, which could cost borrowers about $1,000 more over the life of their loan, for each year of college. Although many jobs can be achieved without higher education, most people consider college absolutely necessary for a well-paying, stable job. How are students expected to afford the “American Dream” when the cost of that dream is too high?
These two major problems with higher education make us all wonder if college is even worth it anymore. I am here today to say that, it definitely is. Although I may end up with a couple of thousand dollars in student loans, when I graduate, and take a little longer to land a job, the diploma for which I have worked is completely worth it.
No matter how bad the job market is for college graduates, it could be worse. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that although 3.7 percent of the population with college degrees is unemployed, those with only high school diplomas have an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent. Also, those that are college educated are more likely to be employed at any given time than less-educated workers.
Not only could college improve your bank account, but it can also improve your character. A college degree shows that you had the intelligence to earn your diploma, and the heart to finish. If an 18-year-old can successfully make it through a four-year institution, with intensive coursework, while having the time of their life, that is something to be proud of. Think about the work ethic and determination you had to possess to survive those four years, no matter how bad you slacked off and wanted to give in.
We can even thank college for broadening your horizons and opening you up to new and different experiences that can benefit you in the real world. We are no longer those dazed and confused high school kids we once were. We are physically and mentally stronger because of our college career. Do not let a bogus loan interest rate, or a challenging job search prevent you from getting the education that you deserve.
Let us all be thankful that we live in a country that gives us the opportunity to go to college and get an education. Life after college will not be easy no matter how good or bad the economy is, but do not be discouraged. It will all be worth it in the long run. Do not let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.
Opinion by Briana Hopes
Photo by John – Flickr License