Is College Needed?

Most children in school are constantly told the benefits of college and getting a college
degree. As generations of children are graduating thinking college is the only option, many jobs are being left open in manufacturing and skilled labor fields. It begs the question, is college the best decision for all students?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69.1-percent of 2018 high school graduates attend a college or university. This number has stayed about the same (65 to 70-percent) for almost 15 years.

Many skilled labor employers are seeing the effect, Market Watch’s Jefferey Bartash notes that this is the “tightest labor market in decades forcing companies to pay up.” Many young people enter the workforce with a bachelor’s degree, yet not the technical experience to take on these high paying jobs.

College is also becoming increasingly expensive. According to Nitro College, a college financial service provider, the average student will acquire $37,172 in student debt. Nitro also states it take on average 19.7 years for student loans to be paid for a four year education.

The cost of college is also rising. Since 1971, the average cost of a public institution has gone from $8,730 to $21,370. Private institutions have also increased from $18,140 to $48,510 during the same time period. With the costs of college rising, and the increased pay for skilled trades and other careers not requiring a college degree, many high school students are seriously considering whether college is really the best path.

Despite this, college does have its economic benefits. On average, those with a high school degree make about $712 a week. For those with an associates degree, weekly pay averages $836. For those with a bachelor’s degree, it’s $1,173. Those with even further education range from $1,400-1,836 weekly on average. So there is clearly an economic advantage to attending college; however, the opportunity cost must be factored in, as well.

Many high schools are putting in place programs to get students on the path to success, even if that path doesn’t include college. For example Greater Clark County Schools’ adoption of the academies sets up many students up for specific training toward certain careers without a college education. At Jeffersonville High School and around the country, many are realizing that college isn’t always the answer.

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