Point: Is college really worth the expense in the long run?

Eddie Samowitz, Opinions Editor

College education is currently flourishing in the United States as all kinds of people, including women and minorities, are making great headway in terms of higher education.  A continued and amplified focus on education by all Americans is exactly what is needed to terminate the financial disparity which is quite prevalent in today’s economy.  The Federal Reserve, upon completing its tricentennial survey of the economic status of United States consumers, found that a college education is a determining factor of someone’s economic situation.  In fact, the survey found that a college education is oftentimes capable of doubling the average individual’s annual salary.

A degree is capable of enhancing anyone’s annual income and financial stability, and it should be at the forefront of each high school graduate’s itinerary.  Now, a common argument against the idea that college is economically beneficial is a comment on the expensive nature of obtaining a degree.  However, the cost of a college education is no longer a feasible reason for why students should not attend.

As scholarship and loan flexibility has continued to expand, and is currently at its highest level, there are countless options that can help struggling families to attend college.  Time.com explains that only a minuscule fraction of students do not apply for any sort of federal aid to pay for college, and that 85% of all enrolling students in 2017 qualified for at least some aid from their college.  With such abundant opportunities for scholarships and financial aid, it seems that all students should attend a university in order to set themselves up for a successful future.

The New York Fed, in an analysis of the worth of a college education, conceded that it does usually take almost ten years to repay student debt.  On the same note, however, the economic benefits of a higher salary and financial stability that come after that debt-repayment period prove to be far more valuable in the long run.

Anti-college crusaders can complain all they want about the cost of college, and the fact that it is impossible to remain in the labor force while college is in session, but it seems that getting a job without a degree is getting harder and harder for young high school graduates.  According to the New York Times, 28.5% of all high schools graduates under 24 who have did not go to college are unemployed; this percentage is also higher in minority groups.  The high unemployment rates and difficulty in finding work associate with a lack of a college degree are a testament to the importance of going to college.  College provides you with a competitive edge in the working world, and the chance that you are unemployed is cut down to a third of what it would be without a degree.

While it is easy for anyone to meet people while out and about, college is arguably the only place where there are willing and friendly mentors, business connections, future employers, and/or possible partners all in the same place.  While you are surrounded by thousands of brilliant people your own age on campus, college professors are also some of the brightest minds out there.  They are experts in their fields and have the capability to guide, inform, and mold you to help you advance your studies.  Speaking to these accomplished and ingenious faculty members often proves to help students find their passion or connections to various other areas in life.

However, financial stability is not the only reason you should go to college.  College is the perfect time to find yourself.  At the moment, you are handed your diploma on the stage at your high school graduation, you are given the full freedom to redefine yourself and your role in society.  You have the choice to leave the high school you behind and to find a new you.  College is the perfect place to do this as the freedom to meet new people, to push out of your comfort zone, and to defy expectations is offered.

College is important for both economic and social reasons.  To drastically increase the chances of long term success, and to be able to look back on life as a journey which had a culmination of excitement in college, a diploma is absolutely necessary.