Is College Still Worth It?
Now nearly five years removed from college and four years removed graduate school, I oft find myself wondering if the six years and thousands of dollars of debt was worth it. Granted, I would have never landed my first job as quick as I did without my Master’s degree, but my undergraduate degree has honestly been 1,000% irrelevant to where I’ve ended up in my career.
A little background info before we move forward: As an undergrad, I hopped around four different majors before finding myself happy as a psych major, and my masters is in Finance (LOL). I know, two completely different areas of study, right? But my reasoning is simple. I’ve always been great with math and finance so its always been my backup if you will. On top of that, the graduate sports psych program I wanted to go to was very hard to get into and extremely expensive.
So, I couldn’t bring myself to drop another forty or fifty thousand dollars into an already pretty sizeable pool of debt. I ended up falling back on the “safe” plan, and now Four years later, I’m very bored with my career and wish I would’ve done something else. I was very young and I honestly still had no idea what I wanted to do, so it seemed mature and adult-like at the time. But looking back I can’t help but wonder, was it really worth it? Let’s jump into some possibilities if I were making this decision today.
#1 – Minimum Wage May Double Soon
I usually try to keep my posts void of politics, but this is too large of a reason to leave off. Technically, this still could not happen, but a good amount of presidential candidates are really pushing for a $15 minimum wage. This is massive in the scope of college, as some post-college jobs now barely even pay that much. When I graduated with my psych degree, most jobs within a reasonable distance of me were starting around $13 an hour. I moved home to save up for grad school, and eventually ended up cleaning pools, where I made $15 an hour. Do you see the issue here? Why would someone go to college and immerse themselves in mountains of debt when they can go fold clothes at a department store and make the exact same hourly wage? Really makes you wonder doesn’t it.
#2 – Debt levels
This is a massive thing to note when making your decision on whether to go to college. Once again, this technically could be a totally different story depending on what happens in the 2020 election, but most of us are anticipating seeing ludicrous college tuition amounts sticking around for the foreseeable future. Private colleges run at about $37,000 annually for tuition where public colleges land around $10,000. And that’s not including housing, meal plans, and other basic spending you will incur. Let’s dive into an example from Market Watch.
According to them, the average cost of tuition, room and board, and other college related fees for a four-year degree has increased nearly $64,000 dollars since 1987. Back then, a part-time job would cover over 1005 of those costs. But now, a full time college student who works part-time at minimum wage can only cover 70% of those costly college expenses. Some of you now might say, “Well then work full-time,” but that isn’t always an option. I had a few semesters of college where my classes started at 8 AM and ended at 5 PM. That right there is a full time job in itself, and isn’t even factoring in the commute to and from campus. Where in that schedule is someone supposed to work full-time?
#3 – Jobs that Train You
A lot of jobs nowadays have some crazy list of requirements that most people cannot meet coming right out of college. But, some of those same jobs will hire and train the right person even if they don’t have all the skills required. Not to mention, there are loads of vocational and technical jobs now that train you full-time until you’re ready to go out on your own. My A/C unit broke about a month ago and my technician told me that he was making six figures a year after HVAC school. Now the average HVAC tech’s median salary is around $55,000, but still.
I did a little research on local A/C schools in Florida, and the average tuition before you’re out on your own is between $5,000 and $10,000, and you could graduate within anywhere from ten months to two years. Now, four years at a public college will cost you about $40,000 and your starting salary will probably be around $50,000. So if you are someone who doesn’t mind a little manual labor, why wouldn’t you go to school for half as long, owe an eighth to a quarter as much debt, and come out making the same i not more money? Seems like a pretty simple answer to me.
#4 – Non-College Related Fields Have Been Increasing
Looking towards the future, many jobs that are expected to see the most growth will not require a college degree. According to the Intelligencer, the five fastest-growing occupations in the US over the next ten years will be solar panel installers, wind turbine technicians, home health aides, personal care aides, and occupational therapy assistants. None of these currently require any form of college experience or degree, and the average salary among those five careers is just over $40,000.
That doesn’t even scratch the surface though. What about coding, web-dev, and other jobs that can be learned from the comfort of your own home and don’t require any college experience? Or the massive growth within the field of social media and the careers within? According to Georgetown University, more than one third of the jobs available in 2020 will not require any education beyond high school. CNBC even posted an article mid-last year stating that the ten best non-college jobs all pay over $79,000 annually!
#5 – Who Actually Knows What They Want to Do at 18?
As I mentioned earlier, I was someone who changed their major A LOT in college. I started out as an Engineer, but wasn’t a fan of the teachers at my university, so I switched my second semester. Then I was Finance, which I paired with Economics as a dual major. Then I had a year-long stent where I wanted to go to medical school, so I was a pre-med major. And I finally fell upon sports-psychology which led me to switch to a psych major my senior year of college. Luckily for me, most of my classes overlapped (outside the finance ones of course) so when I graduated I hadn’t wasted too much of my time.
I was probably quite the outlier here with four different majors, but you’d be surprised how many people change their major within their first few years of college. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly a third of all college students change their major at least once in college, and about 10% change it more than once. This makes perfect sense to me though because how rare is it to know your true calling at the age of 17 or 18? I thought I’d be a chemical engineer working with crazy tech and nanobots when I was 18, and now that doesn’t even remotely sound interesting to me (LOL). It just goes to show that sometimes college isn’t always the right choice.
So… Is College Worth It?
Now, even after saying all of this, I personally still lean towards college being a great choice for those it makes sense for. I think it is extremely worth it, especially if it becomes free over the next few years. It would be downright silly for someone to not take advantage of free tuition if it was a viable option for them! But in saying that, I realize that many people nowadays don’t really need to go to college. I’m already planning for my unborn children to go to college, but if 18 years from now they find a job that they love and will help them survive on their own right out of high school, I wouldn’t mind sticking those college funds right back into my savings account.
Thanks for checking out my article! For more of my original content head on over to DustyPosts! Let me know if you went to college and if you have the same questions I do in the comments section below.