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Recently, there has been a large debate on whether or not receiving a college degree is a worthwhile decision. Over 13.3 million American youth attend college each year (NCIS), however, 70% of them will borrow money to finance their degree. (University of Michigan) Also, the average person will pay off their student loans 10 years after borrowing money. (University of Michigan) On the other hand, college graduates tend to be more successful, earn more money, and have a healthier lifestyle. Although receiving a college degree can be a financial strain, college educations are more beneficial than high school educations because of their overall economic and personal benefits.
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Originally, colleges were invented to train ministers in the early 1700s. Harvard University originally charged 5 cents per year. Today however, colleges have become a large part of society and college degrees are often considered a necessity for job seekers. High schools strongly encourage students to attend college and many jobs require a college degree. A majority of a high school student’s life is dedicated to building up their college resume and preparing for college. With the increasing desirability of a college degree, the cost has risen astronomically, making it very difficult for people to attend it and remain financially stable. Acknowledging this problem, Berkeley University is one of the few colleges in America that offers free tuition for in-state students, partly because of their excess private funding. Colleges have often been accused of taking advantage of their students financial situation and profiting off the desirability of a college degree, however receiving a college degree is still very useful and important.
One reason many American youth are debating whether or not to get a college education is the overwhelming cost of colleges today. In the last 10 years, tuition, fees, and housing costs at four year institutions have risen 67% and 43% at nonprofit universities. (University of Michigan) Student debt-to-income ratios have also gone from 12% in 1989 to 32% in 2010; meaning that some students acquire more student debt than their future job will be able to support. The average debt is $28,950 for 4 year college students (University of Michigan) while the average salary for a college graduate is $50,000 a year. Despite the risks of initial financial problems due to student loans, a college degree is worthwhile in the long run.
One example of how a college degree is more beneficial to a person’s life than not is that statistically, college graduates tend to be healthier. “College educated people maintain a healthier lifestyle, are less likely to be disabled, are less likely to suffer from chronic diseases and have lower rates of mortality,” (Bauldry 2) Furthermore, college graduates tend to be more stable and can make better decisions about their lives, based off of skills they have acquired from their education. Moreover, college graduates on average earn more money, allowing them access to better health benefits. For example, with higher income one can more easily afford healthcare, mental health help, a more expensive and healthier diet, and specialty medicine. A college graduate is more likely to lead a longer and healthier life, benefiting the person and society.
In addition to being healthier overall, college graduates earn more money than high school graduates and are more financially stable. College graduates earn a minimum of $400 a week more than high school graduates at the same job. (Karageorge 1) Moreover, high school graduates on average earn $1.2 million over the course of their lifetime while college graduates on average earn $2.1 million in their lifetimes. (New York Times) Recently wages of those without a degree have been falling while college graduate wages are at an alltime high. (New York Times) College graduates are also more likely to have better job opportunities, which allows them to have better working conditions and chances to advance their career. Although the burden of student debt seems overwhelming to many people, the financial benefits of a college degree outweigh the disadvantages.
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The final reason that a college degree is a worthwhile decision is it’s social benefits. Students who go to college are likely to have new experiences, meet new people, and learn how to live on their own in a safe environment. Students create memories and friendships in college that they will keep forever. Furthermore, students can have new experiences; from taking a class in an unfamiliar subject to joining a fraternity/ sorority. Moreover, college is a great way for a student to live on their own without being completely isolated and to experience what their life will be like without living with their parents. Finally, students have a higher chance to have plans after graduation that will benefit their career if they attend college. Most colleges have programs to aid students with jobs, internships, and fellowships for after they graduate, which helps the students advance their career.
Despite its disadvantages, a college degree is an extremely worthwhile decision. It increases chances of success in life financially, socially and physically for a person. A college graduate is more likely to earn more money and have a better job, not only benefiting themselves but the economy as well. They are also more likely to lead a healthier lifestyle and to live longer, benefiting themselves and society by contributing to it for a longer amount of time and more productively. Finally, a college graduate is more likely to have connections with people and know how to behave in social situations, due to exposure to them in college. The benefits of a college degree clearly outweigh the disadvantages. Every student should push their education as far as possible, and attempt to receive a college degree, not only to benefit themselves, but to benefit the rest of society. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,”
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