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Carefully Decide If College Is For You

to go to college or not


Jacob Lane By Friday, 12 April 2024 02:46 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Weighing Whether You Should Get a College Degree Is Complicated

Springtime ushers in a season of celebration, as millions of high school graduates don caps and gowns, ready to embark on the next chapter of their lives.

But as the diplomas are framed and classmates shift into distant social media connections, those who have decided to go on to higher levels of education face a critical dilemma.

Tuition and fees are soaring; student debt is reaching an all-time high.

So, is the investment in a college degree truly worth it?

The short answer is that it depends. But that answer invariably lends itself to further investigation being completely in order.

Regardless of whether or not students learn anything in pursuit of their degrees (that’s a subject for another opinion column), college grads still earn more throughout their lives than high school grads.

Last year, college grads with full-time jobs aged 22-27 earned $24,000 more per year than those in the same age group with only a high school education.

College grads are also more likely to enjoy perks such as the ability to work remotely or access to paid time off and family leave.

For those wanting a career in law, medicine, or science, a college degree is pretty much a necessary prerequisite.

With respect to the law, it might be hard for many to fathom, that Abraham Lincoln "read for the law," versus going to a bricks and mortar university.

For millions of other would-be college students, especially those who want to enter fields like hospitality, manufacturing, or construction, it would be best to think twice before pursuing a four-year degree.

Experience being the best teacher, may work quite well in and for those industries. And several well-paying careers in these industries don’t require a college degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for electricians was $56,900 in 2020, while flight attendants earned an average of $59,090.

Plumbers clocked in at $56,330 and carpenters earned on average $49,520 a year.

And the best part: not only does one avoid the burden of student loans in these careers, but one gains valuable real-world experience right from day one.

This trend extends beyond individual industries.

Over 15 states, including California, Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have all ditched college degrees as a requirement for most positions.

In Colorado, the average salary for a state worker is $58,000, while it stands near $55,000 in Virginia.

It’s expected that even more states will follow suit in the coming years. If this trend continues, millions more will no longer need a college education, avoiding the pitfalls of burdensome student loans.

Compare these salaries to the average college graduate, which comes in around $59,000. But here’s the kicker: that often comes with around $30,000 in student loan debt.

And that’s just the average amount students owe. For millions of college grads, that amount is substantially higher, with many owing more than six figures for their degrees.

Included in those costs though are experiences that non-college grads might miss out on, like the opportunity to study abroad, access to alumni networks, and the fact that college grads, on average, enjoy lower unemployment rates.

During the COVID pandemic, for instance, the unemployment rate for those with college degrees peaked at 10%, while those with no higher education faced an unemployment rate that topped 18%.

However, this author understands that some readers might say, "I need a college degree to even be considered for employment in my desired industry."

I get it. I was in the same boat.

For me, obtaining a degree was a necessary step.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, my advice is straightforward: get the degree, but do so in the most cost-effective way.

Starting at a community college can be a smart financial move, saving thousands of dollars compared to beginning a degree at a four-year university.

Consider online education and apply for every scholarship imaginable to reduce costs even further.

Work during the summers and seek out internships to gain experience. For most careers, having a degree is simply a requirement to satisfy human resources.

In the long run, experience carries far more weight than the name of the institution on one’s diploma.

Ultimately, the cost of obtaining a degree is rising steeply, and there’s no sign of it leveling off anytime soon.

The average cost of attendance for students residing on campus is $104,000 at public schools and a staggering $223,200 at private schools.

That’s a huge investment for anyone, especially for an 18-year-old.

Such a decision can shape one’s life for decades.

When push comes to shove, the decision to pursue a degree must be made on a case-by-case basis. While there are thousands of jobs that no longer require a degree, there are just as many that do.

And let's not forget, many honorary degrees have been awarded to those whose work shined above all others. That's not an inconceivable outcome for you as well!

So, is a degree worth it?

For some, absolutely; for others, not so much.

Just like your mom used to say, do your homework, and if you do end up heading to college, shop around.

Jacob Lane is a Republican strategist and school choice activist. He has worked for GOP campaigns at the federal, state and local levels, as well as with various PACs and nonprofits. Read Jacob Lane's Reports — More Here.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

For millions of would-be college students, especially those who want to enter fields like hospitality, manufacturing, or construction, it would be best to think twice before pursuing a four-year degree.
bls, honorary, hospitality
Friday, 12 April 2024 02:46 PM
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