In a recent Time Magazine article called Only Rich Kids Should Go To College, columnist Dan Kadlec talks about how there is mounting evidence that college loans are holding back Americas youth. As inflammatory as the title of his article suggests, he does not believe college is for the rich since the title “smacks of elitism and runs counter to the income inequality concerns” that have made other authors famous. What Kadlec sites is that a growing number of college students don’t think their education was worth it.
Kadlec states that “evidence keeps mounting that, financially speaking, if you must borrow to pay for college you might be just as well off skipping higher education and going straight to work” furthermore, he sites statistics that say 37% of households headed by someone under 40 have on average 13,000 worth of debt and struggle to pay the debt.
While Kadlec makes a strong case that there are a growing number of people who skip out on college and go straight to the workforce, skipping out on a College, or any sort of higher education, does not work for everyone.
College is rather expensive and the events you’ll experience are well worth the price. College provides you with the unique opportunity to surround yourself with people who have the same drive as you do and at the same time think vastly different than yourself.
What is the benefit of that?
The benefits are that it forces you to learn how to collaborate with others, learn about different view points, and prepare you for the real world. No matter what occupation you go into, you will be forced to work with people who come from diverse backgrounds. At the same time you can create network connections for future job opportunities, learn from some of the top educators in your field, and utilize campus resources to your advantage.
Some may argue that in the case of working with different people you should just skip out on college and go straight for the real world. In reality you would be making a mistake. In a PewResearch article called The Rising Cost of Not Going To College, Pew analysts create a series of graphs that highlights the effect of not going to college will have on ones life in regards to cost.
It is a known fact that going to college greatly increases your chances of achieving a higher income in the long run. But going back to Kadlec’s point that student debt is a viable excuse to not go to college: The rising costs of college has been a huge topic of debate. At the same time. there has been an increase in methods to pay for college and reduce debt. Many students do not take full advantage of scholarships, federal student aid, and other notable ways to reduce their tuition every year.
Now at this point, I know you’re probably rolling your eyes thinking that with the sheer volume of students applying for scholarships that you will not obtain one. That is not the case. The more scholarships you apply for, the more likely you will obtain one. Scholarships are not limited to “scholar athletes” and 4.0 students. There are hundreds of thousands of scholarship available for students of all social and academic backgrounds to receive. You do not have to wait to be a senior to apply for scholarships either. The earlier you start the better you will increase your chances of obtaining some to use later.
Federal Aid and Payment Plans
One of my closest friends is classified as a “low income” college student. Her mother is unemployed with a disability, she is the sole income for the house, and yet she has still been able to attend college. Why? Because of State Aid and Pell grants. By commuting from home, the State of Maryland has provided her with enough Pell grants to cover her full in state tuition. At the same time, she is still able to experience all that college has to offer debt free. Similarly, I have quite a few friends who have established payment plans with their respctive colleges so they do not have pay a “lump sum”. Before fully ruling out college, have an indepth conversation with your schools financial aid office for more information.
Two-Year College Track
If the cost of a four year college is too expensive, going to community college for two years and transferring has quite a few benefits. At the University of Maryland for example, if you transfer from one of four community colleges in the state of Maryland, and are a high achieving student, you may qualify for the Transfer Academic Excellence Scholarship.This scholarship covers four consecutive semesters at UMD once you transfer. Many colleges in other states have similar programs in order to offset the cost of attending a college for four years.
These options, along with many others CAN make college affordable and accessible to almost anyone. Do not be detered by the cost or the notion that “only the rich” can go to college. Each college student has their own story and at the end of the day, you need to create your own and utilize your resources to go to the college of your choosing for your future.