Many of us have grown up believing that to be self-reliant and have a promising future we must go to college. Liberals continue to believe that college is (as a general rule of thumb) the best way to lead a happy and successful life. However, many Conservatives argue college simply is not worth the time, money, and effort, and claim happiness and success can be found through other paths. While no one path is right for everyone, there is a compromise to be made between these two extremes. As a general rule, I believe college is worth the time, money, and effort. Nevertheless, Conservative concerns such as the huge amount of student loan debt, the skills gap and lack of employment opportunities should be taken into account when deciding whether to attend college. If you are interested in pursuing a very specific career field like medicine or law, college is a great option for you. On the other hand, if you find yourself either unsure about your future career or wanting flexibility in your career options, the Conservative alternatives of vocational schools or starting your own business might just be your best bet.
Both of my parents attended college and received post-graduate degrees. My mother was a high school and college math teacher and my dad was an attorney. With my parents’ educational background, I have never really considered not attending college. My career goal is to become a registered nurse, perhaps in surgery or labor and delivery. Ever since I started high school I have eagerly anticipated going to college. Because my career choice is very specific, attending college is probably my best option.
However, upon researching the costs and benefits of college, I realize it would be naive of me to assume that college is the best option for everyone. For those unsure about their career paths, college probably is not the best option. Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com, has found that “Eighty percent of college-bound students have yet to choose a major.” Also, according to NBC News, “…Indecisiveness can drain college savings accounts as students restart course sequences or transfer schools — losing credits in the process.” 1* The College Board has found that five and six-year students are not uncommon. They also found that roughly 40 percent of those who start a four-year degree program still have not earned a degree after year six. 1*
The bottom line is this: the sooner you choose a career, the better. The clock is ticking and according to the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, your indecisiveness effects more than just you. They claimed that, “…student loans are ‘beginning to have the same effect’ on the economy that the housing bubble and crash created.” 2* This issue must be taken seriously and into account when deciding to pursue a college education.
The skills gap must also be considered. According to a CNN article, employers may be expecting too much of their employees. Colleges are just not equipped to give them the skills companies want their employees to have right after graduation. Patrick Gillespie, a CNN journalist found that, “65% of job postings for secretaries who work for executives require a college degree.” But, according to Joseph Fuller, a Harvard Business School professor, among current executive secretaries, only 19% have college degrees. 3*
“According to the labor department, there were 5.3 million job openings in America in May. That’s better than the meager 2.1 million job openings at the depth of the recession.”
“However, the rise in job openings is running parallel next to a bad trend: the average number of days a job posting remains available is going up”, Harvard professor Fuller says. 3* There is an acute shortage of skills in the U.S. and many Conservatives blame the quality of our college education. Procon.org found that “in 2013 56% of employers thought half or fewer of college graduates had the skills and knowledge to advance within their companies.” 2*
A final consideration is that many colleges are very Liberal. Some claim that colleges may be “brainwashing” students instead of educating them. David Horowitz, MA, conservative activist and author, claims that university, “curriculum has been expanded to include agendas about ‘social change’ that are overtly political.” 2* Some conservatives argue that attending college may not teach you to think and learn things for yourself. These are two very important skills employers are looking for in their employees.
To conclude, there really is no definite answer to the question, “is college worth it?”. I hate to say that, “it depends”, but in all honesty this question should be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you know where you want to go, there is a good chance college can take you there. If you have no specific future plans, college very well may end up a waste of time and money. But, ultimately, the choice is yours. As I have discussed, college is not the only way to succeed; but it is my way.