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Is College a Waste of Time (and Money)?

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on April 6, 2018 15:09

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More students are coming to the conclusion that the high price for college isn't worth the job opportunities upon graduation, but there are still merits to heading to school and getting that degree.

Once upon a time, parents worked tirelessly, making many sacrifices to be able to send their kids to college. For many, bragging rights revolved around the college their child attended, or maybe even their GPA. But with skyrocketing tuition, families supporting both aging parents and college-bound kids and the job market not promising great salaries, many parents and kids wonder, why bother?

Look the numbers: the average annual budget for private school is $50,900 with public colleges sveltely trimmed down to $25,290. That includes costs of tuition, books, room and board and other ancillary fees required to complete a year of school. All that money spent when the average first-year graduate’s salary is only $50,556. The math doesn’t always compute for long-term financial success. Kids have realized there are no guarantees with a college degree.

As a mother of a teenage son, the conversation has certainly frothed to the top of our breakfast conversations. In all honesty, I understand those who say that paying or borrowing for a major university just isn’t worth the cost. Career opportunities exist without the hefty price tag of a major university. Look at the mikeroweWORKS Foundation removing the stigma of great paying trades that have minimal training costs.

If there is one thing I’ve learned it's that there are many ways to succeed and little has to do with what university you went to or what your major was. My degree has no practical application to what I do for work. I have seen countless friends and colleagues achieve great success and fulfillment without pursuing fields in their degrees or even completing college.

Yet I am still encouraging my son to get four-year degree. Why? There is still value in getting a degree and it doesn’t have to do with the school or the major you tackled.

Here are three non-academic reasons higher education shouldn’t be written off:

1. General curriculum forces students to explore topics and careers they may never have considered. It opens a person’s eyes to new and different things. Taking a wide variety of classes exposes students to broader thinking becoming better humans.

2. It’s a great place to find your tribe. Relationships in college become a social and professional network that last a lifetime and transcends careers, geography and socio-economic backgrounds.

3. Getting a degree shows the resolve to systematically achieve big goals. An interviewer at a bank doesn’t care if your major was archeology; he cares that you followed through with four years of tests and trials. Going to college is a lot of fun but it isn’t all fun and games and takes discipline to complete.

Of course, some careers like a doctor require specific curriculum and requires that college education. But kids today should choose an education not based on prestige but on practicality. Whether it’s a trade school or university program, find something that fits your personality, long-term goals and budget.

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on April 6, 2018 15:09

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