The Pros and Cons of Attending College

If you’re an adult and you want to get a job, your best bet is to go back to college. If you are considering going back for more education, here’s some of the pros and cons that may factor into this decision.

The “why college isn’t worth it” is a blog post that discusses the pros and cons of attending college. The author argues that, for most people, college is not worth it.

Welcome to the second installment of our series on whether or not college is required. We looked at the history of higher education in America in Part I. In the early 1900s, what began as a destination for a select, exclusive group of students began to transform into an American rite of passage. Enrollment soared, endowments soared, and the concept of college was infused with a romantic haze that has persisted to this day.

However, evidence has emerged in the recent decade that four years of college directly after high school may not be the best choice for every kid. Today, we’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages that a young guy should evaluate before enrolling in a four-year institution.

While some of these advantages and disadvantages apply to both four-year and two-year colleges, they are more prevalent in four-year schools. While tuition at four-year universities (particularly private ones) is soaring, community college is still quite reasonable, costing just over $2,000 per year on average. While it is possible to make deep connections at a community college (even if they aren’t nearly as weird as those represented on the same television program), it is more difficult due to the fact that students don’t reside on campus.

We’ll focus on the advantages and disadvantages of enrolling in a four-year school, especially straight after high school, because of the importance such institutions have in the minds of Americans. After high school, the societal pressure to go on to college nearly entirely focuses on enrolling in a four-year institution. While many students enroll in community and technical colleges, the majority of 18-year-olds who have completed high school will enroll in four-year institutions. There are over twice as many four-year students (11 million) as there are two-year students (6.5 million).

Two-year colleges still have a stigma associated to them, as though they’re exclusively for people who can’t get into or finance “regular” college. Without a doubt, two-year schools are seen as a step down from four-year colleges in the eyes of the general public. It’s an unintended consequence of four-year colleges’ widespread esteem.

Is that degree of esteem, however, genuinely deserved? Should every high school student in the nation strive to attend a four-year college? In this article, we’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a four-year university.

The Drawbacks of a Four-Year College

The Price of Education Is Exploding

Given that we are still feeling the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, it’s unavoidable that many of these drawbacks are financial in nature. Within the wider category of college economics, I’ll attempt to address a few particular difficulties.

The first is that tuition costs are rising at a far faster pace than the overall rate of inflation in the economy. This implies that an increasing number of students (and their families) are unable to afford college but nonetheless attend since it is expected of them.

 

A four-year institution’s fee has increased by 300 percent since 1990, only 24 years ago. To be fair, it’s a staggering figure, but you can say that about a lot of goods. In order to determine the true relevance, you must take into account overall inflation figures. When we examine that, we observe that tuition has grown at a pace that is 2.5-4 times that of national inflation over the last 24 years, depending on who you ask. When disproportional inflation happens, the product theoretically becomes a luxury item. However, this has not been the case with college enrollments, which have continued to rise. (A minor caveat: overall college enrollments fell by 2.3 percent in 2013, although the bulk of the reduction was due to fewer adult learners enrolling in for-profit institutions or public community colleges.)

In the end, this implies that families are spending money that they don’t have on a luxury item that they can no longer afford. With an average cost of roughly $20,000 per year for college, families may expect to spend 38 percent of their total family income on this price. Most households would be turned down for a mortgage at that rate.

Regrettably, there seems to be no true conclusion in sight. In 2011, the cost of public schools increased by 5.4 percent, while the cost of private schools increased by an amazing 8.3 percent, well above the economy’s 3 percent inflation rate. College expenditures are outpacing wages, and Americans have yet to find a way to cut down on this specific expense.

A degree no longer provides the return on investment that it once did.

Even if tuition is rising, a college diploma is still considered a good investment. However, it may be argued that, although college costs have risen, its real value has decreased – on a variety of fronts.

The widely circulated figure on the long-term monetary worth of a college diploma is that graduates earn $1 million more during their career than non-degree holders. That’s a statistic that a high school student, or even a parent of a student, can’t ignore.

Unfortunately, it’s a little deceptive, and it’s just not as true now that the economy has recovered. That $1 million figure is a little on the high side. Your wages are likely to be significantly greater if you get into a top institution and graduate with honors than if you scrape by at Podunk U. Those at the top earn far more than $1 million, skewing the outcomes for the rest of us. According to a recent analysis by PayScale.com, acquiring a degree may bring you a $1 million return on investment over high school graduates at just 72 colleges (out of 2,700 4-year schools in America). According to that survey, the median is closer to $500,000, which, although still a large sum, is half of what prospective college students are often offered.

That $1 million figure may have been accurate 12 years ago when it was published in a US Census Bureau study, but given the recession and salary inflation being lower than overall inflation, continuing to use it now is reckless.

 

College was formerly considered a sound financial investment. In the 1970s, public school tuition was inexpensive ($1,200 per year, including room and board!) As a result, you’d be able to afford it, and you’d be rewarded with a well-paying job. Over a third of the work force didn’t even have four years of high school education 40 years ago, and just 10% of the population had a college diploma. As a result, college graduates became more valuable, and the jobless rate for college graduates was about 2% in the mid-1990s, at the height of America’s economic prosperity.

That was a long time ago. Tuition has become almost expensive for most students, and well-paying employment (indeed, jobs in general) are no longer a given after you graduate. In reality, the unemployment rate for recent graduates (ages 20-24) is presently at 7.8%. This is almost three times greater than national unemployment and nearly three times more than it was 20 years ago. This means you’re collecting mountains of debt (which wasn’t the case even a decade ago, when only around a third of grads utilized student loans — more on that below) that will constrain your financial choices for decades after graduation, and you may not even be able to pay it off. Is it something you’d consider investing in?

Another thing to consider in this ROI discussion is the money you would have earned if you had not gone to college. Let’s take a look at the lowest-wage situation. If you work for minimum wage for four years and get no increases, you will have earned $56,000. That’s hardly small cash, and you’d very likely earn a lot more. In high school, I worked jobs that paid far over minimum wage, and if you’re skilled, you’re nearly assured a raise. Then add in out-of-pocket fees and debt for someone who has completed four years of education (which is generous — the typical graduation time these days is closer to five or even six years). The typical student may expect to pay anything from $25,000 to $100,000. When you factor in the interest on those student loans, as well as the fact that it will take an average of 16-18 years to pay them off (during which time that high school graduate will have progressed through the ranks and is now earning a decent wage), the disparity in total earnings is no longer as large as it once appeared. While there is still a difference in incomes between college graduates and high school graduates (which I’ll discuss below in the “Pros” section), it isn’t as large as it once was, and it isn’t as large as what college admissions departments sometimes claim.

College graduates are hampered by debt and loans (and the Economy)

In 2010, the overall amount of student debt in the United States surpassed the entire amount of credit card debt. As of 2013, there were $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loans, which amounts to more than $3,700 for every man, woman, and kid in the United States. We’ve really managed to reduce our credit card and mortgage debt while our country recovers from the crisis. What’s the one area that’s still expanding? Student debt is a serious issue.

 

The primary economic concern is that the federal government backs nearly $1 trillion of it. As a creditor, this puts the American taxpayer at risk, implying that we, the people, bear the weight of unpaid student loans. And the weight is just getting heavier. According to recent figures, 10% of student loans are in default (and the number is growing). This refers to government loans that haven’t been paid in 9 months. Furthermore, just 4 out of 10 student loan debtors are current on their payments. Graduates who are unable to repay their debt suffer severe credit damage, which has a significant influence on all future financial (and life) choices, including vehicle purchases, house purchases, and even marriage.

As a result, many economists are referring to the current student debt issue as “the next housing bubble.” Banks were handing out mortgages to anybody who applied for one in the mid-1990s. In terms of the borrowers’ capacity to repay their debts, there was little due diligence. That eventually bit the banks in the rear, and they required a substantial (to put it mildly) government bailout to stay afloat. With student debt, the same thing is occurring. Schools disburse tens of thousands of dollars to kids (and their families) who may not be able to repay the loans. As many experts have predicted, this will eventually have the same impact as what occurred in our economy in 2008.

Another burdensome aspect of student loan debt is that it is not dischargeable via bankruptcy. While bankruptcy does not impact a large number of individuals, you never know when something awful may happen and you will need the new start that bankruptcy can give for those in financial need. If you are unable to discharge your student debts, it may be difficult for you to ever recover financially. It’s worth emphasizing that private student debt is considerably riskier than student loan issued by the government. While both are non-dischargeable, government loans have low, set interest rates (for the most part – depending on congressional mood), and payments may be altered based on income (although doing so increases the length of the loan and the interest).

Two-thirds of all students graduate with debt, with an average debt of over $26,000 (up 43 percent from only seven years ago, shortly before the crash). With interest, your average monthly cost would be $320. When you get married, that amount might quadruple, and you’re looking at a lot of money each month that isn’t going into savings, isn’t going toward other debt (credit cards, auto loans, mortgages), and isn’t helping the American economy recover.

College Doesn’t Always Help You Develop Your Mind

Vintage college class professor lecturing at front of classroom.

The two most common motives for going to college are to increase one’s earning potential and to enhance one’s thinking. As previously stated, the value that college provides on the first front has been declining. Unfortunately, the mental advantages of higher education have been dwindling as well.

 

College isn’t always the mind-expanding experience that it’s been portrayed to be. While it’s expected that you’ll be a better critical thinker, problem solver, philosopher, and so on as a result of paying your tuition, such advantages don’t come instantly. According to a 2011 survey, over half of college students show no growth in their problem-solving, reasoning, or writing abilities during their first two years, and more than a third see no development during their college career. Sure, the environment might help you develop, but going to college and not working hard won’t miraculously improve your cognitive abilities.

The issue stems from a change in mentality among universities and students alike, which sees education as just another consumer good. Students are seen as clients by colleges, and the customer is always right.

Consider the custom of students grading their instructors. Evaluation forms were popular in the 1960s and 1970s as colleges began to become more student-centered, and they are now a key statistic in professor evaluations. Even if it’s unintentional, this implies teachers are now more concerned with making students like them in the near term than with giving rigorous, mind-expanding material that will benefit them in the long run. Profs don’t want students to give them low grades because they’re dull or too difficult, so they make their standards more lenient in order to get a thumbs up.

The lowering of grading standards is closely tied to this. A straight A is the most frequent grade at Harvard, for example. Other Ivy League colleges follow the same trend, with upwards of 60% of all grades issued being in the A category. Getting to the top of the class no longer necessitates pushing one’s cognitive powers to their limits. Some institutions are taking steps to combat grade inflation by imposing restrictions on the number of A’s granted, although this is not a common practice.

College Doesn’t Always Prepare You for Life After College

After drunk a Vintage college man passed on dorm room floor.

Let’s take a look back at how I spent my four years in college:

  • I lived in a dorm room for four years, two with roommates and two as a RA on my own. My room lacked a kitchen. My room lacked a bathroom. I had a bed, a desk, and a television in my room.
  • For four years, I was on a food plan. I ate two meals a day from a variety of cafeterias, and I often missed a meal out of boredom.
  • Every day, I spent hours with my buddies playing video games.
  • Due to the aforementioned, I was up until far past midnight most nights and awoke at 7:30 a.m. for early lessons.
  • I skipped class on a regular basis with no repercussions. Sure, a grade may have slid a few points, but it had no impact on my life.
  • My monthly expenses were likely about $150, which included petrol, auto insurance, and a mobile phone.

Is it anything you’ve done in the real world? Another advantage of college is that it reportedly prepares you for the real world and assists you in maturing into a mature adult. I’m not sure I understood what you were saying. On the contrary, when the obligations and expectations of a college student are compared to those necessary outside of higher education, vast disparities emerge.

 

If you skip or arrive late to work as you did in class once you’re out on your own, you’ll be fired. Your bathroom will rapidly become a cesspool if you wait for a mythical elf to come in and clean it. There might be major implications if you haven’t learnt to budget.

College has become a period of relatively unfettered life in many respects. It’s a lot of fun while it lasts, but it can be rather dazzling whenever you have to walk into the light. It might be tough to adapt to life in the real world, both practically and emotionally. Young men often leave high school without the life skills and decision-making talents they will need to succeed in the next phase of their lives. They may find themselves adrift in new obligations for which they have no prior expertise. Acute nostalgia for their undergraduate years might set in, prompting people to try to reproduce similar settings with declining results.

In an ideal world, one’s adolescent and early twenties should be like a steady on-ramp to maturity, where you gradually acquire the life skills and mentality required to succeed as an adult. Rather, transitioning from college to the real world today seems like being pushed over a cliff.

Students Aren’t Being Prepared for the Job Market in College

Many firms have said that the issue with the economy in our nation is a shortage of suitable individuals to fill those positions, rather than a lack of employment. In reality, according to a poll conducted by the Accrediting Council for Independent Schools and Schools, just around 10% of employers feel colleges do a good job of educating students for the workforce (although over 90% of provosts say their grads are ready – boosterism at its best). In addition, half of the companies said it’s tough to locate competent candidates for the jobs they’re attempting to fill. “Colleges and institutions are catering to the students and giving them what they want, instead of what the employers want,” says Rep. Virginia Foxx, chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives higher-education subcommittee. I don’t believe there is any need to distinguish between gaining skills and gaining an education. We’ll have to do both.”

Our universities just do not provide our students with the skills they need to find work. The aforementioned lowering of academic standards has a detrimental influence on the quality of critical thinking and reasoning abilities gained in college in general, but it also leaves students ill-prepared for the job market in a more concrete manner.

In today’s tech-obsessed society, many students, for example, desire to learn how to use social media or improve their technical abilities. However, just 5% of corporate executives (the ones who make the choices) consider that a top-three competence for joining the business sector. Problem solving, cooperation, and critical thinking are the top three talents.

Another key shortcoming is writing and oral communication; an overwhelming majority of businesses (80%) desire that colleges placed a greater focus on these abilities. Basic writing lessons are not obligatory of all students, but they should be in order to meet the demands of the marketplace. PR Writing, where letter marks were penalized for each grammatical error, was without a doubt the single finest class I ever took – the one that benefitted my professional career the most. (Thank you so much, Professor Bodensteiner!)

 

We’ve come full circle to the pernicious implications of putting education in a consumer/customer perspective. Students have learned to demand that their education be adapted to their individual needs, preferences, and talents. This is certainly not how it works in the corporate world, where your bosses cater to the market and their clients, not to you. Students graduate as consummate consumers who are completely unprepared to take on the job of production.

Not Every 18-Year-Old Is College-Ready

People develop at various ages and at various speeds. Some kids are college-ready at the age of 16 or 17 and go on to excel. Some, on the other hand, are shoved out the door at 18 into a whole new world and are simply unprepared. Brett even mentions it in the preface of Heading Out On Your Own; after failing miserably in his first semester at the University of Oklahoma, he was forced to return home to his parents. Transitioning from the safety of your home to suddenly being on your own and responsible for your own life may be a perplexing experience.

There is a significant dropout rate among college students that is seldom discussed in the media. One out of every four college students will drop out their first year, and half of all freshmen will never get a degree. Academic abilities are mentioned, but the most important aspects are social and emotional — self-esteem, self-care, anxiety, sadness, and so on.

Students aren’t intellectually ready for college, according to the firm that administers the ACT exam. They must meet specific criteria to be considered “college ready” in each of the ACT’s four topics. Students who have been determined to be college ready in a topic have a 75% probability of passing a college course in that subject. In 2012, they discovered that over 25% of pupils failed all four topics, and over 60% failed two. While this may be an issue more connected to our primary and secondary education systems than the kids themselves, the reality remains that many 18-year-olds aren’t intellectually or socially/emotionally prepared for the rigors of college.

Let’s move on to the benefits of attending a four-year college now that we’ve tackled the negatives.

The Benefits of a Four-Year College

The vast majority of students do not pay the full sticker price for their textbooks.

While the cost of a year’s worth of college tuition might be surprising (New York University tops the list at a whooping $62,000/year!) , more than 80% of all students get some kind of financial assistance. There’s a lot of free money to be obtained that doesn’t come in the form of student loans, thanks to federal Pell Awards, school-specific grants, and scholarships (and therefore debt).

At private institutions, the typical student gets roughly $17,000 in financial help, with about half of that coming from student loans and the other half through grants and scholarships. This implies that out-of-pocket payments per student are reduced to slightly over $11,000 per year on average. For families and individuals, this makes college much more manageable.

 

Many people may argue that spending hours filling out scholarship applications for a “mere” thousand dollars isn’t worth it, but when you’re out of college and trying to pay off debts and figure out how to balance your budget, that thousand dollars will make a huge difference. With over $3.5 billion in scholarship money available each year, it’s well worth your time to apply.

It’s also worth noting that many institutions provide merit-based scholarships. If you perform well, you’ll have a better chance of receiving scholarships without having to fill out any paperwork. After a difficult first year of college, my GPA improved each year, and when I was a junior, I was awarded a scholarship that was offered to all students in my degree program who had a GPA over a particular threshold. You’re more likely to obtain financial help if you perform well in school. (It should be mentioned that this is also true in high school.) You’re significantly more likely to earn automatic scholarships and grants if you’re on the honor roll in high school.)

All of this is to imply that college sticker shock doesn’t have to be so surprising. Many institutions (even premium private universities) become inexpensive with the correct financial assistance package – comparatively speaking, of course.

You have a knack for forming strong, long-lasting personal bonds.

Four Vintage college African & American black friends talking each other on campus.

When individuals are asked about the advantages of their college experience, it’s fascinating to see that the intangibles often take center stage. Unlike the downsides, which can be attributed to statistics and particular institutional flaws, there is something about college that individuals really like.

One of those things is undoubtedly the one-of-a-kind connections you form. At a four-year school, you’re virtually always surrounded by pals in the dormitories; you take courses together, eat all of your meals together, and spend every night till 3 a.m. playing MarioKart (was that just me?). When you spend that much time with someone, you create really strong relationships with them. And as a result of spending so much time with pals, you wind up having the greatest fun you’ll ever have on a daily basis. Because you don’t have the obligations of a full-time work or owning a house, you can spend as much time as you want with the people you care about. That seems like a formula for a good time.

It’s true that making friends outside in such tight quarters is more difficult. If you’re working full-time and living alone or with only a few of roommates, you’ll have to put in more effort to form enduring bonds.

This is particularly true when it comes to dating. What do you believe is the reason behind the rise in popularity of online dating? Because it’s difficult to know where to go for that special someone if you’ve graduated from college and are no longer surrounded by others who share your demographic. You have bars, a place to work, and that’s about it. As a result, individuals flock to online dating services simply because they are unsure of where else to meet people. Meeting your prospective spouse in college might spare you years of searching on Match.com.

 

You often form excellent, long-lasting professional/mentoring relationships.

Vintage college student with his professor in a classroom sitting in front of board..

One of the most valuable aspects of college, particularly in terms of your professional future, is the incredible amount of clever, accomplished individuals you’re surrounded by, whether they’re professors, advisers, deans, or others. Most institutions offer internship programs, job boards, and whole departments dedicated to assisting students in finding work. Professors are also often the finest contacts and mentors you will ever have.

When you speak to different individuals about their college experiences, you will often hear that college “opened doors” for them. This typically indicates they had some kind of networking link that got them through a door someplace, even if it wasn’t always explained. My first internships in my major occurred as a result of teachers recommending me for them. Those internships provided me with valuable experience that led to full-time employment. Doors swung open.

You may meet wonderful mentors in college who will act as life advisers for decades and will help you create your own life philosophy, in addition to receiving career possibilities (see below). Their value is incalculable, and there are few chances to build and nurture those kinds of connections outside of college.

College may broaden your horizons and your mind.

Three Vintage college students at desk in dorm room two are studying while third one is setting his bed.

While, as previously said, college will not definitely broaden your intellect, it does have the capacity to do so. College was undoubtedly a time for me to broaden my views and learn to think for myself. While unclear, it is without a doubt one of the most significant things that college has done for me. I’m not sure how much I would have matured academically or emotionally if I had remained close to home or gone straight into the workforce. Over the course of four years in college, my viewpoint shifted tremendously, and I’m grateful for it.

I was able to have my religious, political, and philosophical perspectives, which I’d inherited from my parents and hometown, completely dismantled, and then rebuilt using what I discovered in my own thinking processes. Professor J. Rufus Fears of the University of Oklahoma affected Brett and Kate, as well as this site, by teaching them the value of drawing life lessons from history.

While using college’s mind-sharpening potential necessitates a student’s self-motivation and foregoing the route of least resistance by actively seeking out bright teachers, tough courses, honors classes, and small seminars, the benefits may be immeasurable.

The development of your intellect is not always something that can be accomplished entirely on your own. To do so, we often need a mild prod. College was the catalyst for me, as well as many others. While development requires the person to be in the appropriate mentality, there are few locations better than college to shape a viewpoint and philosophy you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.

A degree still outperforms a high school diploma in terms of return on investment.

Despite the fact that a college degree is no longer the investment it once was or is touted to be, it still delivers a greater chance for employment and higher income than not having one.

 

Right present, the national unemployment rate is about 6.7 percent. That rate is just 3.4 percent for college graduates (all college graduates, not just the recent grads I indicated above in “Cons”). The percentage for people with just a high school graduation is more than twice, at 7.3 percent.

According to a PayScale.com analysis, the ROI of college in terms of lifetime earnings above high school grads is closer to roughly $500,000 than the $1 million typically stated and lauded. However, their technique is a little convoluted, and it excludes a lot of small company owners, self-employed people, and freelancers/contractors. To me, the actual, palpable difference is in average annual incomes. It’s $55,700 for college grads. It costs $33,800 for high school graduates. Over the course of a 40-year career, this equates to a $876,000 difference in earnings.

While tenacity and hard effort go a long way in the workplace, many individuals find that combining that desire with a college degree is the best chance.

Many jobs need a bachelor’s degree (Even Relatively Menial Ones These Days)

A college degree is required for a large percentage of employment in this nation. It’s more than probable that it’ll only get you in the door for an interview, rather than landing you the job. Is a $100,000 debt worth the opportunity for an interview? It definitely may be if the work pays well and is a good match for your objectives.

This is especially true in the domains of “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). If you want to work in one of these professions, college is probably the best option. These job advertisements exceed all other job listings three to one. You could certainly become a great programmer, skip out of school, and launch Facebook. That, though, seems unlikely. A college degree is not only essential, but also necessary to grasp the job you’ll be performing on a daily basis in these disciplines. And these industries aren’t done developing; in the next decade, they’re predicted to outperform typical employment growth by roughly 10%.

A degree is also required for many popular employment nowadays, in addition to STEM disciplines. Owners and HR professionals will often reject applications that do not indicate a college degree, whether they are from a non-profit, a corporation, or a small company. Unfair? Certainly. Reality? Absolutely. As one of my old supervisors put it:

“I’ve written job descriptions,” says the author. I’ve developed the hiring requirements for a variety of occupations. There have been occasions when one of the positions I was interviewing for said, “Degree Required.” Typically, this entails obtaining a four-year degree. Yes/No. Black/White. A toggle switch is what it is. “Yes” signifies the applicant advances to the next round of interviews. “No” means exactly what it says. No, you will not be able to interview for this position. No, you are not given the opportunity to speak with someone in order to demonstrate your level of expertise. No, you won’t be able to show that your practical experience in this industry is likely to be much more valuable to the organization than someone else’s 4-year degree in General Studies or European History. Is it reasonable? Not all of the time. Is that correct? Not all of the time. Is it in the best interests of the firm as a whole? Maybe.

 

Beyond topic expertise, here’s what a four-year college degree means to me as an employer:

1) You understand how to develop and attain long-term objectives (for example, “graduate from college”).

2) You know how to prioritize and can put off the need for instant fulfillment in order to view the big picture – at least on occasion.

3) You know how to operate as part of a team, even if it isn’t a sports team (there are few college graduates who have not had to work on at least one team project).

4) You have a strong sense of self-motivation.

5) You are most likely comfortable speaking in front of a small group.

6) You’re definitely capable of putting together a basic presentation.

7) You comprehend the notion of deadlines and the implications of failing to meet them.

8) You’re a good student who knows how to study and take notes.”

Employers believe and view college graduates in this way. Is this something that will alter in the future? Perhaps. But, for the time being, this is the corporate world’s reality. Without a doubt, my college diploma opened opportunities that would not have been available otherwise.

Conclusion

Advertisement of next stop college having women on her cycle while two men running.

Aren’t there more sides to this coin than you would think? While money is at the core of many of these talks about education, it isn’t the complete story.

The college experience is a part of the American experience, even if it isn’t “correct.” Whether they obtained a degree or not, most individuals you meet will have attended some kind of college. Dorm living, cafeteria cuisine, and athletic events are all things that make us nostalgic for the “good old days.” There’s a lot to be said about it. People would not attend college if it actually had no value. Whatever perspective you choose, the choice to attend college is a significant one, and one that many 18-year-olds struggle with.

This is why we strongly encourage you to take a gap year. Have you ever questioned why it seems like you must attend college immediately after graduating from high school? Why does it have to be the next logical step? More and more individuals are casting doubt on this premise and taking a break from the education conveyor belt before determining how to continue.

This is even catching the attention of colleges. They’ve begun giving financial help for students who spend a year volunteering abroad or working with a local firm, which I find incredible. The gap year is increasing popularity, with roughly 20% more students taking one between 2006 and 2013. This is for a good purpose.

When you’re 18, you probably have no idea what you want to do with your life, what degree you want to pursue, if college is the best decision for you, or whether you’re emotionally prepared to succeed if it is. So, why try to answer such questions when the debt-o-meter is ticking? A gap year (or two) enables you to develop, gain life skills, assist others, travel the globe, and maybe earn money while avoiding debt. When your gap year is finished and you enroll in college, you’ll have a far better chance of hitting the ground running, which will reduce your chances of flunking courses, changing majors three times, and graduating in six years.

 

Perhaps after your gap year, you’ll realize that college isn’t the best option for you. What other options do you have?

When we look at the alternatives to a four-year college in the next essay in this series, we’ll go there.

What were some of the advantages and disadvantages of your college experience? 

 

 

The “why college isn’t necessary to be successful” is a blog post that discusses the pros and cons of attending college. The article includes statistics, personal stories, and anecdotes from those who have attended or not attended college.

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