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If you're in high school, you've probably been told over and over again by counselors, teachers, and other well-meaning adults that you must attend college to earn a living. But is a college degree worth it?
The cost of attending college has risen substantially since your parents were in school. Over the last decade, costs have increased by more than 25% and most graduates leave school with significant amounts ofstudent loan debt.
However, a bachelor's degree can still pay off in the long run. Here's what to consider when deciding if college is right for you.
How much does college cost?
If you plan to go to college, be prepared for the shock of the stickers.
The Faculty Councilreported that the median total cost of attending public school for students in the state is $27,330 per year, while thetotal cost of careat private universities he averages $55,800 per year.
If you graduate in four years, that means your degree will cost between $109,320 and $223,200, depending on the type of school you attend.
Even if you qualify for financial aid, includingscholarshipsmiconcessions, this price can be surprising. Before you pay any application fees, be sure to ask yourself, "Is college worth it for me?"
Why is college worth it? 3 reasons to consider
For many people, college is well worth it. Not only do you gain valuable life experience and make lasting connections, but a college degree also gives you the following advantages:
1. College graduates earn more than non-graduates
Despite the rising cost of post-secondary education, a college degree is still affordable for most graduates. On average, those with a bachelor's degree earn significantly more than their peers with only a high school diploma.
How much more? The median wage for workers with a high school diploma is $38,792 and they have an average unemployment rate of 3.7% in 2019, according to an analysis of data from Northeastern University's Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the other hand, the average salary of workers with a bachelor's degree is $64,896 and their unemployment rate is only 2.2% on average.
Throughout their careers, graduates can earn hundreds of thousands more than those who don't attend college.
2. Most jobs require a college education
In generations past, a college education was not necessary to earn a middle-class income. In accordance withCenter for Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, two-thirds of jobs required a high school diploma or less before the 1980s.
This is not the case. Georgetown University predicts that 70% of all jobs will require some college education by 2027.
Without a higher education under your belt, it can be more difficult to find a high-paying job, and competition for available opportunities will be fierce.
3. College graduates are more likely to have health insurance
With skyrocketing health care costs, having quality health insurance is essential to your well-being. However, buying health insurance on your own can be prohibitively expensive. In accordance withKaiser family foundation, the reference premium for individual policies purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace is $462 per month or $5,544 per year.
What does this have to do with college? You may not realize it, but there is a significant correlation between a college education and health coverage.
College graduates are much more likely than high school graduates to have employer-provided coverage that offsets their health care costs.The Faculty Councilfound that 64% of workers with a bachelor's degree and 70% of workers with an advanced degree had employer-provided coverage, while employer plans covered only 52% of high school graduates.
3 Reasons Why College Isn't Worth It
While a four-year degree can be valuable for many students, a bachelor's degree isn't necessary for everyone. Before attending college, be sure to consider the following drawbacks:
1. You are likely to graduate with student loan debt
With college costs skyrocketing, it's unlikely you'll be able to cover the full cost out of your savings or earnings from a part-time job; instead you will probably have to usestudent loansto cover at least a part of the expenses. In accordance withInstitute for College Access and Success, 62% of 2019 college graduates left school withstudent loandebt, with an average balance of $28,950.
depends on youstudent loan repayment plan, you can be in debt for 10 to 30 years. With your low monthly payments, you may feel pressured to put off other financial goals, like saving for retirement or buying a home.
2. High-paying jobs are not guaranteed.
While a college degree is often touted as a path to prosperity, it can be more difficult than you expect in the job market.
Especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused tens of millions of people to file unemployment claims in 2020, it can be difficult to find a high-paying job after graduation.
The average starting salary for college grads fresh out of school is around$ 51.000, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. While this is a comfortable income for most, many graduates will earn less than that. and if you have weightstudent loandebt that exceeds your income, you may have a hard time making ends meet.
3. It can take more than four years to graduate
When it comes to earning a bachelor's degree, you probably expect to graduate in four years. However, this may not be realistic.The National Research Center of the Chamber of Studentsfound that only 58% of students who enrolled in college in 2012 earned a degree within six years. The rest of the students were still in school or had dropped out.
For each additional year you attend school, you rack up additional expenses and may need to take on more student loan debt to pay for your education. Taking six or more years to graduate can leave you with even more debt when you finish school, and it can be hard to get out of it.
alternatives to college
Is a college degree worth it? Not for everyone. If you decide that attending a four-year school is not the right decision for you, there are other options you can use to earn a good income.
Attending a community college is substantially less expensive than attending a four-year college or university. In accordance withThe Faculty Council, the average cost of tuition at a community college in the district is just $3,770.
At a community college, you can earn an associate's degree or complete certificate programs that lead to stable careers. For example, the following careers require two-year degrees and have above-average salaries:
- Radiotherapist:$ 80.160
- Computer programs:$ 79.840
- Dental hygienist:$ 72.910
- Registered Nurse:$ 68.450
- Telecommunications installer:$ 53.640
Trade schools, vocational schools, or technical schools offer hands-on training for many different specialized careers. The programs tend to be much shorter than university programs, with students graduating in six months to two years.
The cost of attending a trade school is much less than attending a four-year school. The average cost to complete a program is $33,000.
There is a growing demand for trained trade professionals and you can earn a comfortable income. For example, these are the average earnings of the following companies according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Electrician:$ 56.180
- Plumber:$ 55.160
- Carpenter:$ 48.330
- Mechanic:$ 42.090
If you're interested in software and web development, attending a coding bootcamp can be a pathway to a potentially lucrative career. In accordance withThe course report, the average bootcamp program lasts just 14 weeks, and you could land a new job in data science, app development, or cybersecurity.
The average cost to attend a coding bootcamp is $13,500, and the average starting salary for bootcamp graduates is $67,000.
If you have an idea for a business, entrepreneurship may be a better career than going to college. As an entrepreneur, you can be your own boss and set your own salary. The average salary for entrepreneurs is approximately $43,000 per year.
However, keep in mind that starting your own business can be risky and it may take several years for your business to turn a profit. For help developing your ideas and creating a business plan, take advantage of the resources offered by the US Small Business Administration.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why does college cost so much?
There are many reasons whycollege costs have risenover time to their current levels. The demand for a degree has increased as more jobs require at least a bachelor's degree for employment. The services that schools provide to students (and the staff needed to manage them) have also expanded, inflating the operating budgets of universities.
Public institutions have also faced cuts in the funding they receive from state and local governments. This lack of funding is passed on to students in the form of higher prices.
What college degree should I get?
Choose a specializationit is one of the most important decisions you will make as a student. If you're undecided, consider your skills and interests first. You can also take some online career tests to get an idea of possible careers.
Once you've made a list of options, research what each career is really like. Review the type of environment each job works in, as well as potential wages. You also need to consider how much time you want to spend on your education. Does your desired career require a bachelor's degree or will you need to pursue additional education after graduation?
How much does online college cost?
Prices for online degrees vary greatly depending on the school, program, and level of education. According to US News, the average total cost of tuition for an online bachelor's degree ranges from $38,496 to $60,593.
Several factors can influence the cost of online college. Public schools often cost less than private schools, and in-state residents may qualify for lower fees, too, even if you're taking classes virtually.
How much do college applications cost?
The average college application fee is around $45, with some schools charging as much as $90 or $100 per application. Highly competitive schools tend to charge more; Cornell and Dartmouth, for example, charge $80 each.
If you're concerned about application costs, many colleges offer fee waivers for eligible students. Generally, you must have a low income to be eligible.
How can I get financial aid for college?
The most important step in obtaining financial aid is submitting theFree Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This is the only way to qualify for federal student aid, such as grants, work-study options, and student loans.
States and schools also offer their own extra help, which is usually based on the information you provide on your FAFSA. If you don't submit this important form, you could lose out on free money like grants or scholarships.
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|Pros of Attending College||Cons of Attending College|
|Higher earning potential||High cost|
|Access to more jobs||Opportunity cost of time spent not working|
|More learning opportunities||The availability of high-paying, no-degree jobs|
|Networking opportunities||Underemployed college graduates|
- You Likely Will Graduate With Student Loan Debt. ...
- High-Paying Jobs Aren't Guaranteed. ...
- It Can Take More Than Four Years to Graduate.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graduates with a bachelor's degree or higher had median usual weekly earnings of $1,556 when working full-time, compared to just $866 for high school graduates with no college studies. In this way, a college degree can almost double your earning potential.Is college still worth it 2023? ›
According to data published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the wage premium for early-career college graduates was 52%, or $17,680. The unemployment rate for college grads was also far lower in the first quarter of 2023 at 2.1% versus 6.9% for young workers without a college degree.Why is college worth it financially? ›
College graduates get higher-quality jobs
Among full-time workers, college graduates are more likely to have jobs that offer paid vacation, health insurance, retirement, and flexible work arrangements. These forms of non-wage compensation help provide greater financial stability and security over the long run.
That being said, you can certainly be successful without a college degree — your skills and talents can get you hired. Find out exactly what skills are needed for your career path and work hard to excel in them. You will have to be determined, self-disciplined, and goal-oriented.What are the cons of dropping out of college? ›
Dropping out of college can tank your career prospects. Adults without a college degree earn about $30,000 less per year than college graduates. In 2018, the unemployment rate for high school graduates who dropped out of college was 18.6%. Many students enroll in college to get higher-paying jobs.What colleges offer the most value for the money? ›
- Princeton University.
- Yale University.
- Stanford University.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Rice University.
- Dartmouth College.
- Vanderbilt University.
- Johns Hopkins University.
- You may not gain technical skills. ...
- You may not get employability skills. ...
- Contact time is less than at school. ...
- You'll leave with a lot of debt. ...
- You will be committing at least three years of your life. ...
- You're not guaranteed a graduate job. ...
- Lifetime earnings can be higher with an apprenticeship.
In fact, college graduates live an average of seven years longer than their less-educated peers. College-educated adults tend to live happier lives. confidence, a better sense of independence, and stronger feelings of control over their lives. ⌘ College graduates tend to be more resilient and less depressed.What percentage of Americans go to college? ›
The overall college enrollment rate of 18- to 24-year-olds (ages in which students traditionally enroll in college) was 38 percent in 2021. In this indicator, college enrollment rate is defined as the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled as undergraduate or graduate students in 2- or 4-year institutions.What is the hardest year for college? ›
Everyone's college experience is different. Many people including myself have found the third year to be the most difficult. This is the year in which you will start to take classes that are specifically for your major. The classes for your major tend to be more challenging than core classes.Will college change my life? ›
A college degree opens up more opportunities, even in fields that aren't in your major. Improve Discipline and Develop Strong Character. Obtaining a degree takes discipline and a will to succeed. By getting your degree, you overcome procrastination and learn to do what it takes to reach your goal.Should I go to college at 25? ›
Is 25 Too Late to Start College? The age of 25 is not too late to start college, as it is never too late to start college. Many of the most successful college students are older learners and working professionals. Oftentimes, these older college students bring several advantages to the classroom.Why is college so unaffordable? ›
Are you ready to discover your college program? Why is college so expensive? There are a lot of reasons — growing demand, rising financial aid, lower state funding, the exploding cost of administrators, bloated student amenities packages.Why is paying for college stressful? ›
Financial stress makes everything else harder.
Study after study show similar results. Worries about money lead to ongoing stress, anxiety and even depression; they crowd out the brain's ability to focus on longer-term achievements; they even lead to higher-risk decision-making with potentially disastrous consequences.
College students commonly experience stress because of increased responsibilities, a lack of good time management, changes in eating and sleeping habits, and not taking enough breaks for self-care. Transitioning to college can be a source of stress for most first-year students.What jobs make 6 figures without a degree? ›
- Data Scientist. Data Scientists analyze raw data and draw meaningful insights that can improve business performance. ...
- Data Engineer. ...
- Business Analyst. ...
- Software Engineer. ...
- Engineering Manager. ...
- Test Engineer. ...
- Cybersecurity Engineer. ...
- Technical Program Manager.
Eighty-eight percent of millionaires graduated from college, compared to 38% of the general population.
Report Highlights: In 2019, those who've obtained their bachelor's degree or higher had an employment rate of 87% for both genders, 91% for males, and 83% for females.Who is most at risk of dropping out of college? ›
Students aged between 24-29 are most likely to drop out of four-year colleges, as 52.5% of them have already left without a degree (What to Become, 2021). Only 30% of these dropouts re-enroll in college to finish their degree (EDI, 2021).Why do most students drop out of college? ›
While financial issues are probably the most common reason for dropping out of college, every student has their own reasons. Some unfortunately have family issues, a lack of support, or unexpected medical problems that are beyond their control.Are most college dropouts successful? ›
Based on these numbers, the college dropout success rate is only at around 6%. There is no guarantee of financial success if one chooses to leave school and pursue an interest that could possibly be translated into a scalable business.What do most millionaires go to college for? ›
Economics / Finance
It's probably no surprise to hear that studying Economics or finance can help to fast track you towards being a millionaire. But it's not quite as easy as simply studying how to make your fortune, with economics in particular often seen as more theoretical and behind the scenes.
- Economics and Finance - 18.
- Engineering - 16.
- Computing - 12.
- Business - 6.
- Mathematics - 6.
- Law - 5.
- Science - 5.
- Politics - 3.
There are about 9,600 so-called centimillionaires living in the U.S., or people whose net worth is greater than $100 million, the report noted. About 35% of them attended one of eight U.S. universities: Harvard, MIT, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Yale, Cornell and Princeton, the analysis found.What are 4 bad things about college? ›
- Randomly assigned roommates. ...
- CLASSMATES WHO LOVE TO MONOPOLIZE DISCUSSIONS. ...
- YOUR FRIENDS FROM FRESHMAN ORIENTATION. ...
- OVER-PRICED MEAL PLANS. ...
- IF YOU GO TO A BIG SCHOOL IN THE CITY: TOO MUCH ANONYMITY. ...
- IF YOU GO TO A SMALL SCHOOL IN THE CITY: NO COMMUNITY.
- Higher income. Having a college education can increase your earning potential. ...
- Employment benefits. ...
- More job opportunities. ...
- Job security. ...
- Job satisfaction. ...
- Networking. ...
- Personal development. ...
- Career advancement.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) When did Elon Musk take an IQ test? The Tesla CEO is estimated to have an IQ score of around 155.
The reason? He believed the internet had more potential to impact the world than his research in physics. He wanted to capitalize on the internet boom and so he did, going on to launch his first company, Zip2, and selling it for over $300 million four years later.Are college grads happier? ›
College Degree = Increased Self-Satisfaction:
A study done by CollegeBoard found that four-year college graduates reported the highest levels of satisfaction in their job, when compared to others with less academic experience.
Depending on your age, income level, and job status, education can have both a negative and positive effect on your happiness. There are certain patterns to this, but your own values play an important role: the more you value education, the bigger effect it will have on your happiness.How many college students are happy? ›
Only 61% of students are satisfied with their social life, and just 59% say they feel connected to peers at their institution.What's the hardest degree to get? ›
- Chartered Accountancy.
- Quantum Mechanics.
- Aerospace/ Aeronautical Studies, Engineering.
- Biomedical Studies, Neurosciences, Biochemistry.
- Dentistry, Medicine.
Roughly one-fifth of recent graduates, 21%, are working in jobs, either full or part-time, that aren't related to their major area of study.What percentage of white kids go to college? ›
The college enrollment rate of Asians (85.9 percent) also continued to be higher than the rates for recent Black (61.2 percent), White (61.0 percent), and Hispanic (58.6 percent) graduates. These data are from the Current Population Survey.What is the top 5 hardest course in college? ›
- Aerospace Engineering. Aerospace Engineers study the design, manufacturing and testing of aircrafts. ...
- Architecture. Architecture is one of those degrees that we wish was easy. ...
- Pharmacy. ...
- Psychology. ...
- Statistics. ...
- Nursing. ...
- Physics. ...
Junior year is generally considered the most stressful year of college, based on coursework and financial strain. However, freshmen experience unique types of stress. For example, 69% of freshmen students suffer from homesickness.
In the northern hemisphere, the longest break in the educational calendar is in the middle of the year, during the northern summer, and lasts up to 14 weeks.
Investing in college has historically yielded significant benefits, including greater career opportunities, higher earning potential and a better quality of life for millions of Americans. The data has also reinforced the value of a college education, both financially and otherwise.Does life get easier in college? ›
Yes, college is the transitionary time between your K-12 schooling and your exit from an academic setting for the first time in your life. You have more freedom than you've ever had before, and more responsibility, without (many of the) bills and work schedules and other consequences of being a full-time adult.Is it smart to go to college? ›
Is college worth it? College grads generally earn more and have better employment opportunities than non-graduates. And for many students, college is an opportunity to gain financial literacy, begin networking and broaden their horizons. The investment is worthwhile for many.What is the right age to go to college? ›
A college in the U.S.A. is not a high school or secondary school. College and university programs begin in the thirteenth year of school when a student is 17 or 18 years old or older.Is 20 too old to be a freshman in college? ›
No. 20 is not too old to start college. At any college, there will be plenty of freshmen who are 18, sure—but you'll also find people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, (you get the point). When you go to college, you'll quickly find that the student body wasn't nearly as uniform age-wise as it was in high school.Can I return to college after dropping out? ›
Some schools allow prior dropouts to return to school without reapplying. If you'd like to continue your education at a college or university you previously attended, make sure to check with their admissions office to determine their requirements.Is college worth it money wise? ›
Bachelor's degree holders generally earn 75% more than those with just a high school diploma, according to “The College Payoff,” a report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce — and the higher the level of educational attainment, the larger the payoff.Are colleges worth the money? ›
The data has also reinforced the value of a college education, both financially and otherwise. The Economic Data Initiative reveals that the return on investment of a bachelor's degree over a 20-year period has been 38.1%, with a lifetime ROI of 287.7%.What are the pros of going to college? ›
- Earn more money, experience less unemployment. ...
- Raise your voice! ...
- Call the shots—be your own boss. ...
- Transform your family tree. ...
- Invest in and shape our democracy. ...
- Never stop evolving. ...
- Pay it forward. ...
- Bring your ideas to fruition.
- Pro: Cost of Community College. ...
- Con: Lose Out on 4-Year Friendships. ...
- Pro: Community Colleges Tend to Be Local. ...
- Con: Perks and Prestige at Four-Year Universities. ...
- Pro: More Flexibility. ...
- Con: Fewer Programs.
communities that have more well-educated residents have fewer incidences of depression and suicide. stimulating occupations and lifestyles, and overall greater happiness in life.Why a cheaper college is better? ›
More Educated Population:
If more people could afford college, more people would probably attend. This leads to a more educated population. It has been shown that a more educated public results in higher political participation.
Each year, 30 to 40 percent of all undergraduate students take federal student loans; 70 percent of students who receive a bachelor's degree have education debt by the time they graduate.How many students are in college debt? ›
As of 2022, 43.5 million Americans have federal student loans. Approximately 13% of all Americans had federal student loan debt in 2021. In 2022, 9.9 million borrowers have between $20,000-$40,000 of student loan debt.Is college a lot harder than high school? ›
Yes, college classes are typically harder than high school classes because the course work, topics, and depth of materials are more complex, set at a faster pace, and require more studying.What are the disadvantages of not going to college? ›
People without college educations also are less likely to vote than people with them, according to the Census Bureau; half as likely to volunteer, the College Board says; and more likely to divorce, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics; almost half of married couples with less education split up, compared to 30 ...Which is better college or university? ›
Both are equal academically, but if you prefer a school with a wider choice of classes and programs, a university may be a better fit. If you prefer small-sized classes and being able to interact more with their professors, a college might be a better option.What are the pros of a 4 year college? ›
- You'll be educated in a wide variety of subjects through general education requirements. ...
- There are more majors for you to pick from. ...
- There are loads of extracurricular options. ...
- You'll get the traditional college experience.
Students can explore careers and interests, take classes in-person or online, and get to know their professors, all at an affordable cost. The opportunities offered at community colleges are endless.