We've been told our entire lives that we must go to college if we want to make a life for ourselves. We were told that once we obtained that college degree, it would open doors for us. But if you really think about it, the doors aren’t opening now like they once did. In fact, a modern graduate might come to find that a college education is now actually closing them.
Why? If we go back to our parent’s and grandparents' generation, college was cheaper. We’ve all heard them say proudly, “I paid for my entire education with no help, and all it took was years of hard work!” Normally, they say this with the intention of making us sound lazy. However, the price of a four-year public institution in 1982 was $2,810 a year. If that were the case now, all our hard work would pay that off easily. But, unlike the generations before us, we have to worry about much, much more than that. However, nobody really tells us this when they're pressuring us into going to college.
As a student in my junior year at a private university, I am now figuring out that all the hype might be complete bull. With all due respect to higher education, it isn’t the golden ticket that everyone makes it out to be.
What information can we get from attending a university that we can’t obtain from Google or YouTube? In a simple search for “Harvard Law classroom lecture” on YouTube, I gained access to something Harvard students pay an arm and a leg for -- hours worth of prestigious lecture material. If I can watch college classes online for free, then what am I paying for? Why has education attracted such a high price tag when the Internet allows us access to all the information we could ever need for free?
Then, there's the label you acquire by attending what you've been told is “a good school.” If you get into one of these “good schools,” then you are intelligent, gifted and meant for great things. In reality, the only thing separating this “good school” from the masses is the price tag.
We're advised against technical schools because blue-collar jobs are... what? What are they, society? Not as esteemed as four-year institutions? Not good enough? These schools might just be the diamonds in the rough, because not only are these workers getting paid on the same levels as holders of four-year degrees, they're graduating from their programs with much less debt. According to Forbes, an elevator repairman makes $73,560 a year. This is already more than the average salary of a registered nurse, which is $69,790, and a lawyer’s median salary is only around $62,000. It doesn’t take a degree to know which two of the three are going to have a suffocating amount of debt.
So the question comes back to what exactly are we paying for? Some claim it’s the interconnectedness that students experience while being surrounded by young, like-minded people and the opportunities to share ideas. However, given the choice, I would not willingly make these costly sacrifices for those experiences alone.
“It was explicitly not vocational, the point was to introduce students to the extraordinary achievements of humanity, and science, literature, art, music, and motivate students to continue exploring those things for a lifetime.” – David Ray
He's referring to a time when students went to college for a quality education, not job preparation. But what happens when the quality of education isn't reliable anymore? Your degree isn't like a pair of shoes. You can't return it for a refund when it doesn't fit right.
Yes, the college degree is worth something. But all it’s worth might not be worth it anymore.