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The Reflection

College education: Vital for success or an unnecessary expense?

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Vital for Success by Sophia Christensen

Is a college education necessary? It really depends on who you’re asking, but most people I know would say that it is. From an early age, it is ingrained in the minds of children that college is vital for those who want to be successful and make a decent salary. Our society places an extremely high value on education, and it is often seen as the pathway to attaining a higher social class.

These beliefs are not unfounded, as data released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) shows that people who attend college and earn a degree make more money than those with a high school diploma on average. Those who attain even higher education, such as a master’s degree or doctorate, are shown to earn even more money.

College flags adorn the walls of the Career Center at GLHS, where students can receive guidance from counselors regarding their futures. Photo by Caidyn Hutchinson

The importance our society places on education is not necessarily a bad thing, either. The data supports the idea that college education leads to higher levels of income, and the majority of young students are very aware of that fact.

According to the NCES, in 2015, the percentage of students enrolling in college in the fall after graduating from high school was 69 percent. These numbers are projected to continue to rise over the next few years. Our economy relies increasingly on skilled labor and many job openings which may not have previously required a degree now do, which means that the importance of a college education is continuously growing.

That isn’t to say that someone who doesn’t go to college can’t be successful. Success is a highly subjective term, and some people may value an increased likelihood of monetary success while others might find that they are better off and happier without college. Students who don’t attend college can, of course, still be financially successful. However, I think that having a college education significantly increases the number of opportunities that one has and the number of doors that are open to one in terms of jobs. Some jobs don’t have a particular interest in what degree you have, but still require a degree of some sort, as it shows a level of knowledge and dedication beyond that of an average high school student.

“…the good thing about education is that it’s always available and anyone can take advantage of going back to school at any point in their lives.”

 

Posters of local colleges are hung on the bulletin board in the GLHS Career Center to encourage students to consider attending college. Photo by Caidyn Hutchinson

However, the good thing about education is that it’s always available and anyone can take advantage of going back to school at any point in their lives. Everyone is different, and there is no single path to success. Each person must decide for themselves how their future will unfold, whether or not that includes college.  That being said, I think that going to college is a good way to find yourself and explore your options while also attaining a higher education and it’s a good way to jumpstart your career.

An Unnecessary Expense by Austin Miller

Though it is often stated that a college education is a necessity for those who want a well-paying job with all the benefits, plenty of people don’t need to go to college. Many students at Gull Lake are pressured into going to college unnecessarily, costing them years of their life and thousands of dollars. It is important to remind them that they don’t need to go to college to lead a fulfilling life.

Those who don’t attend college have the option of going into military service. There are a variety of reasons that high school graduates might choose to do this, such as love for the United States of America, desire to follow family tradition or interest in any of the numerous benefits which the armed services provide, such as free health care, on base free housing, and the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which was put to give servicemen and servicewomen free schooling and education.

Another reason not to attend college includes issues at home, such as relatives they must take care of or simply can’t afford college. Some students might have parents who aren’t willing to help pay the exorbitant costs, or, if there’s a grandparent or other relative that’s on something like life support, then they’ll probably be putting a bulky amount of their earnings into that instead of their postsecondary education.

Flags and posters in the GLHS Career Center encourage students to consider their future career prospects. Photo by Caidyn Hutchinson

Even without issues at home, many students feel they simply can’t afford college tuition. Nearly all colleges include expenses exceeding $5,000 per year, with the average college debt in 2016 being $37,172. If a student chooses the standard repayment plan, that would be $382 a month for a decade. It is difficult to make that money if you don’t already have it, especially since there aren’t many jobs available to full-time college students and people just out of college. If you can’t afford college, you shouldn’t go, because it’s not necessary.

On the subject of jobs, many students feel it would be better to go to college once they’ve actually made the money to afford it, even if it does take years. This leads them to focus on getting a job immediately after high school and working their way up. Others may choose to attend a vocational school, where they gain the skills to work in an entry level job. This is good because most vocational schools give the attendees jobs for being in the program, so students can just get to work immediately while getting almost free training. This is a wonderful idea for students who want to get into fields where there is a low employment rate, such as any of the non-culinary arts. A vast majority of such students wind up being freelancer, which offers a lot of freedom at the cost of job security and pay.

“…you can still hold a normal job and have a successful and fulfilling life.”

Finally, they might not want to go because they understand that most good jobs, like resources and money, are limited, but also understand that you can still hold a normal job and have a successful and fulfilling life. There simply are not enough accounting jobs for every student who graduates with an accounting degree. Not everyone can be a doctor or lawyer. Therefore, some students will never get into the career that they invested all of that time and money and stress into. As a result there are bound to be a few students that have decided that rather than roll the dice of fate and potentially fail in their hopes and dreams after so many resources have been put into their education, it would be better to just allow themselves to have an average job and at least have what’s needed to get by in life.


Sophia Christensen
About

I'm a senior at Gull Lake High School and this is my first year on The Reflection staff, so I guess you could call me a newspaper newbie. I joined the newspaper sort of on a whim because I wanted to put the skills I learned in Multimedia and Reporting to work, but I'm here to stay and enjoy the ride. I like to write feature articles because I love the facet of newspaper that is giving people an outlet to speak their minds.

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