Is College Worth It?

Elysia Self

Your senior year, all anyone seems to talk about is where you plan to go to college, if you have applied yet, what you want to study, and on and on and on. “Of course, you’re going to college, you can’t just not go,” sound familiar? Well now more and more people are choosing to do just that; not go. According to a 2019 NPR study, there were 250,000 fewer students enrolled in college compared to the year before. This trend has continued into 2021 and is expected to fall even more due to the pandemic.

So why is college seemingly not worth it anymore?

For one, the cost of higher education has increased by over 25% in the last decade. According to Educationdata.org, the average cost of tuition is $25,362 in 2021 in contrast to $21,858 in 2000. With the average cost of tuition rising higher than the average cost of income per household, it’s just too expensive for many families to afford. Another reason why college is losing its appeal is the immense amount of stress that comes with it. Many young people are not willing to spend another four-plus years of their lives stressing over courses they do not actually care about or really need for their specialty. Not when they could get an internship right out of high school and get hired based on real-world experience. Real-world experience might get one person without a degree hired over another with a bachelors but no real-world experience.

So how are colleges trying to combat this dramatic decrease in enrollment? Due to the elimination of previous restraints lifted by the Justice Department, colleges are now allowed to dangle incentives in front of potential applicants. Incentives could include free parking, free football game tickets, discounted meal plans and early decisions. According to the Washington Post, some schools are even allowing students to make a down payment on their tuition that will hold as a fixed rate their next four years.

However, there have been some grievances with the Justice Departments’ newest decision. Some people worry that those families who do not really need the extra financial help are exploiting it, and the families who could stand to benefit more greatly from this won’t have access. In addition to repealing the incentives rule, colleges and universities are also now allowed to poach students who have already been accepted into other colleges. This makes the admissions process for students even more stressful. As a senior who is actively applying and touring colleges, I can absolutely attest to how overwhelming it can seem.

In my experience, choosing where I fit in was the easy part. I knew exactly how I felt the moment I stepped onto each of the three college campuses I toured this summer. The hard part is figuring out if the school I love makes the most sense. You have to comb through the majors and minors offered and ask for specific plans of study for what you’re interested in; for me, those have been different classes at all three schools I looked at. Knowing which track is the best fit for you and which will put you in the best possible position you can be in post-graduation is an enormously daunting task.

That is why big tech companies such as Apple and Google are making it possible for high school grads to get hired and certified without a four-year degree. According to Business Insider.com, in 2019 half of Apple’s US employees were non-college grads. In my opinion, if you do not need a college education to get the job you want then I would not go. If I did not want to work in health care I absolutely would not be attending.

I think this year will be key in seeing if the US is shifting towards college becoming more of a specialty and not a certainty.