by AUSTIN BAUN
Perhaps the question society should ponder is not where one should attend college, but rather should one attend college in the first place? University, at its most basic level, is an investment in oneself. After all, it will require four years of life and thousands of dollars in student loans to finance the education. However, not all majors were created equal in regards to workload, and post-graduation salary.
For example, a student graduates a liberal arts school by borrowing $120,000 from lenders (Federal and private), yet, the average salary in the field is merely $30,000. Essentially, due to negligence, the former student has set himself up for decades or a lifetime worth of debt. Additionally, the loans taken out are accruing debt, thus making the loans harder to pay off on low wages.
Due diligence is extremely important when planning to achieve a higher education. College can be a terrific choice, but that is if the student knows the career they want to pursue as opposed to an undecided student. Knowing the specific career and financial support it provides is vital for planning the future. If a student knows he wants to become a social worker, more power to him; however, he must be realistic in the compensation and desired lifestyle.
If one wants to receive a higher education, but cannot afford to do so at a state school, then there are alternatives. Working part time for two years and saving money while attending community college is a pragmatic approach to receive a degree.
If a young person has no idea what he want to do with his life, but wants to go to college, this is the piece of advice I would give: Get a minimum wage job doing something you hate. While you are at that miserable job and daydreaming about the things you could be doing, what are they? Make a list and explore the possibilities and potential career opportunities. If a dream career require a degree, do even more research over reputable and affordable schools that offer said degree.
I was reading a story on a community based website were people share their personal experiences. The story summarized is by a user describing their friend's predicament. Essentially, the friend went to a small liberal arts and received an arcane degree for $100,000. She was making very little money at her job post-graduation, didn’t want to pay off the student loan debt, and decided to go back to school to get an MBA in primate studies (In her case, the student loan payments were postponed while attending school). All said and done, this individual was $200,000 in debt and working a minimum wage job.
One unique detail about student loans in particular is that they will never go away. Congress has passed extensive legislation to prevent student loans from defaulting in bankruptcy court (Section 528 (a)(8) if you were wondering). The sooner this is realized, the better, because the creditors will be paid in full no matter how long it takes, all while accruing interest.
In conclusion, do your homework, pursue something you are passionate about, and be realistic in how good of an investment a higher education would be in your situation.