Is College Worth the Cost? Pros and Cons

Is College Worth the Cost? Pros and Cons

What you need to think about when determining if college is right for you is listed below.

Despite the high cost of college, many people find that it is worthwhile because it can lead to high earnings and the development of their ideal careers. But college is not for everyone. The high costs of attending college may not be justified if you are not pursuing a specific career path that calls for education.

Here are some of the arguments in favor of it, along with some tips on how to get the best return on your tuition investment.

Is College Worth the Cost?

Although there is merit to the question, the short answer is “yes.” If you consider the list above, you might conclude that the cost of a college education is not at all likely to be justified. Even so, earning a four-year degree still has a lot to offer, despite the fact that college is undoubtedly expensive.

Here are the main justifications for attending college.

Increased Earning Potential for College Graduates

The well-established increase in earning potential for college graduates compared to those without degrees is perhaps the most convincing argument and the most quantifiable one.

According to studies, those with a high school diploma or GED make about $36,000 annually, and those with a bachelor’s degree make about $60,000. That is almost two times the yearly salary!

Is College Worth the Cost? Pros and Cons

Put into another perspective: Over the course of their working lives, high school graduates will make, on average, about $1.2 million. Even though this seems like a lot, keep in mind that people with a bachelor’s degree are expected to earn about $2.1 million annually.

Lower Risk of Unemployment

Inversely correlated with their higher incomes is the unemployment rate for people with bachelor’s degrees. While the unemployment rate for college graduates is only 2.7%, it is nearly twice as high for those who only have a high school diploma or GED at 5.2%.

It will become more crucial to be one of those people as the number of people with bachelor’s degrees rises for the sake of future job security.

Increased Job Prospects

Employers of today are looking for highly skilled, well-trained workers, and a degree is one of the best ways to show that you have the skills necessary for success in the modern business environment. A college degree is also becoming a bigger barrier to entry for many businesses.

According to a recent study, employers are generally increasing the educational requirements for many jobs.

In fact, 41% of employers are hiring people with college degrees for jobs that were previously held primarily by people with high school diplomas, and 38% of organizations have increased their educational requirements for hiring over the last five years.

Career Satisfaction

Is College Worth the Cost? Pros and Cons

The ability to pursue a career that truly interests you, whether it be advancing in your current field or switching careers entirely, is another major benefit of earning a college degree.

You will acquire the knowledge and experience necessary to transition into a new position and will have access to a wider range of opportunities if you enroll in a degree program in your area of interest.

Obtaining a college degree is one of the best ways to improve your situation if you find yourself in a job that is uninteresting or wish you could realize a long-held career dream.

Making An Investment in Your Future

Perhaps more than any other factor, getting a degree will allow you to invest in your future, making college expenses worthwhile. It can be challenging to make decisions that will help your future self, but when you carefully consider the advantages of a degree, the importance of a college education becomes clear.

Reasons Why College is Not Worth It

A bachelor’s degree isn’t required for everyone, even though many students find value in a four-year degree. They think college is not necessary. Before attending college, make sure you consider the following drawbacks:

You Likely Will Graduate With Student Loan Debt

Due to the steep rise in college costs, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to pay for the entire cost out of savings or earnings from a part-time job; you’ll likely need to take out student loans to cover at least some of the cost.

In 2019, 62% of college graduates had student loan debt, with an average balance of $28,950, according to The Institute for College Access and Success.

Is College Worth the Cost? Pros and Cons

You might have debt for 10 to 30 years, depending on your repayment strategy for student loans. Due to your minimum monthly payments, you might feel pressured to postpone other financial objectives like home ownership or retirement savings.

High-Paying Jobs Aren’t Guaranteed

Even though earning a college degree is frequently portrayed as a path to prosperity, the job market can be more competitive than you might think.

Finding a well-paying job after graduation may be challenging, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to tens of millions of people filing for unemployment benefits in 2020.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average starting salary for college graduates right out of school is around $51,000. Many graduates will make less than that, even though it’s a comfortable income for the majority.

Additionally, you might find it difficult to make ends meet if your student loan debt is substantial and outpaces your income.

It Can Take More Than Four Years to Graduate

You should probably plan on finishing your bachelor’s degree within four years. That might not be practical, though. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center discovered that only 58% of students who enrolled in college in 2012 graduated with a degree in less than six years. The remaining pupils either continued their education or left.

Every year you spend in school adds to your expenses, and you’ll probably need to borrow more money to pay for your education. It may be challenging to recover from leaving school with additional debt if you take six years or longer to graduate.

How Much Does College Cost?

Is College Worth the Cost? Pros and Cons

Even though college costs have always been high, this issue is now more urgent than ever. Over the past 40 years, the price of attending college has increased by more than 150%, and it is expected to continue to rise quickly in the coming years.

Although a significant portion of the cost of attending college, tuition, and fees do not represent the entire sum. When weighing up whether college is worth it, it’s important to consider the total cost of attendance (COA), which includes:

  • Tuition
  • Fees
  • Room and board
  • Books, supplies, and equipment
  • Transportation
  • Personal expenses

Depending on the kind of institution you attend, the cost of a four-year undergraduate degree for someone starting college in 2023 could range from $110,000 to about $240,000. Although they can increase the overall cost of your college education, graduate and advanced degrees are typically less expensive.

That’s before you factor in student loan interest. Your overall costs may go up due to loan repayments—in some cases, they may even double.

The amount you pay for college can be significantly reduced, however, thanks to investment dividends and tax advantages from savings plans.

Alternatives to Going to College

For many people, the benefits of college can make it worthwhile, but it’s not for everyone. Depending on your interests, personality, and future ambitions, these alternatives may be a better option for you:

Is College Worth the Cost? Pros and Cons
  • Trade school: You can receive practical training in a variety of technical fields, such as plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, or auto mechanics, at trade schools, which are vocational colleges. They can be a much better fit if you like working with your hands because they are significantly more affordable than college, typically shorter, and cheaper. The majority of trade school courses take between six months and two years to complete and range in price from $3,674 to $15,923.
  • Community College: You may be able to earn a degree from a community college for a lot less money than from a four-year university. If you select a community college in your area, you can anticipate paying between $10,000 and $20,000 a year in exchange for a certificate or associate’s degree that can lead to employment as a registered nurse, radiation therapist, dental hygienist, or computer programmer, among other professions.
  • Take online courses: Short-term courses provided by universities or MOOC (massive open online course) platforms are an additional method of developing your skills and knowledge. Although they are not as valuable as a formal degree in the job market, they can be a great way to add to your work experience and show that you are dedicated to your professional development.
  • Start to work: You might not even need to have any qualifications to pursue your career choice. If you don’t enjoy studying, you might consider a career that doesn’t require a degree, such as entry-level positions in marketing and administration, or occupations like scuba diving or real estate.
  • Become an entrepreneur: Starting your own business is another option to going to school, especially if you’re ready to take on the responsibility, put in the effort, and have a great idea. For anyone who owns their own business, a college education is undoubtedly very valuable, but you might be able to attend college later on using the money from your company.

Conclusion: Is College Worth the Cost?

Is college worthwhile, then? The high costs of attending college might not be worthwhile for you if you want to work in a field that doesn’t require a degree or if you lack the motivation to learn.

However, it’s critical to assess the program’s quality, including accreditation and industry involvement, regardless of the kind of educational pathway a student chooses.


Is College Worth the Cost Debt?

As long as you graduate debt-free, that college diploma could help you build wealth a lot quicker than if you didn’t go to college. (A financial advisor can assist you in developing a college savings strategy that won’t result in debt if you’re trying to get ahead of the cost of higher education.)

Why is College So Unaffordable?

There are a lot of reasons — growing demand, rising financial aid, lower state funding, the exploding cost of administrators, and bloated student amenities packages.

Is College Necessary for a Successful Future?

If you’re wondering if college is necessary to have a successful career, it depends on what you want to pursue. Most careers don’t require a bachelor’s degree to be successful. In place of four-year degrees, more employers are considering a candidate’s skills and potential.

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