Is The Cost Of A College Education Worth it?

If you’re on this website, then clearly you value your future and are most likely looking into attending college in the near future.

However, with the struggling economy, unemployment rates, and the sky-rocketing costs of pursuing higher education, many current, past, and future college students are wondering if this college idea was such a good idea after all.

This article will hopefully leave you with a better idea of how “worth it” or not attending college is!

Let’s not fool ourselves, with the economy in a tough spot and the price of spending four (plus!) years bending over backwards for a college degree, we are all wondering if it’s really worth the debt to get a college degree.

Even I, as I sit at a University and write this article, struggle with the looming fear that I could graduate with nothing but a loan to pay off and some new friends to share that sorrow with.

Nothing against Ramen Noodles, but I was hoping to abandon the ten-cent-dinner diet the day they hand me that diploma, not be forced to live off of it because I have a degree, but no job.

Before this turns into a sob story (hopefully not predicting the future!), let’s take a look at some facts.

  • The cost to attend a private college has increased 70% over the past decade, and the cost to attend a public college has doubled in the same amount of time.

Scary thought, huh? With unemployment rates soaring, and those who have gone before you still searching for the job they went to school for, it’s devastating to hear that the price tag of a college degree just continues to rise, with no sale in sight! Before you tear up those acceptance letters though, consider this:

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that a person with a bachelor’s degree earns an average of $1,025 a week, while those without a Bachelor’s degree earn an average of $626 a week.

Digging your acceptance letters out of the trash now? Sure, the look of that salary seems pretty promising right now, but there’s even more! Many jobs that do not require a bachelor’s degree do not provide employees with health or retirement benefits, while jobs that require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree do.

  • Of those who started a college degree in 2000, just over half completed their degree within six years.

It’s taking longer and longer for college students to obtain a degree, meaning it’s costing them more valuable time and money than ever to get out of college. Not to worry, though, there are some things you can do NOW to avoid this issue.

For example, being honest with yourself about the major you truly want to pursue could save you a few headaches and tons of time!

Also, do everything possible to get general education requirements out of the way fast. Check with your local community college for information on courses you can take over the summer or even over winter break.

  • According to an article in The New York Times, just over half of 2009 college grads were working in a job that required a college degree.

Additionally, 22% percent were working in jobs that did not require a degree, and 22.4% were jobless.

Even scarier, one parent even started the website,, as a place where last-resort parents could upload their grad’s resumes to be matched with potential employers.

You may chuckle at this news, but before your parents become the newest account holders of this website, consider this:

  • The unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 4.5% in 2011, while those with only a high school diploma dealt with a 10.1% unemployment rate.

At last, some positive news for those of you who haven’t given up on your dreams of college yet. Take a sigh of relief, but not too loudly.

The economy is still looking down for college grads, but hopefully not for too much longer! Unemployment rates are even lower for those college grads who continue their education after getting their undergrad degree.

Have these facts played with your emotions enough yet? (They have definitely both scared and excited me!)

…and finally, a personal note from a current college student (me) to a potential one:

Yes, I realize these facts are very conflicting and have possibly made you think twice about whether or not the price of college is worth it or not, but this article isn’t meant to keep you out of your dream university or for you to start job searching now.

If anything, these facts should serve as a disclaimer: if you want to go to college, take it seriously, or pay the price.

On a comforting note, I would tell anyone who is scared sleepless to go to college because of debt and job security fears that they are paying for much more than tuition when they start making those first college payments.

Sure, you’re going to get an impeccable education and a degree that many don’t have the opportunity to obtain, but let’s not forget about the life lessons, networking, and personal growth that come from pursuing a post-secondary education.

So despite all of the scary messages that tuition payments are way too expensive and will only land you in a mess of debt and joblessness, remember that most of the education you’ll receive from attending college is truly priceless.

Questions or comments? Feel free to comment in the space below! I would love to hear your feedback or answer any questions you may have!

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Kaitlyn Taylor

Kaitlyn Taylor

Kaitlyn Taylor is a freshman at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in Spanish. She comes from a small farm town of 1,000 in West-Central Illinois, making the transition to a large campus challenging. At school Kaitlyn is involved with the University’s Women Glee Choir, and also sings in her Church choir and is involved with her residence hall’s Resident Board. She enjoys writing, biking, and volunteering.
Kaitlyn Taylor

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