As you walk into your graduation ceremony, you feel an overwhelming sense of pride. You’ve done it: the diploma is in your hands after 3 or 4 years of commitment to intense studying, living alone and doing everything that you can in order to graduate. The feeling of such an accomplishment you possess, it would take someone with an agenda to pull that diploma from your cold dead hands.
However, is that effort still as important compared to two decades ago, when tuition wasn’t so expensive and the process was more exclusive? While it’s agreed that it’s easier to get into some courses today compared to the past, college feels like a rite of passage.
This leads to an all-important questions: Are college degrees losing their popularity? Are they losing their worth in the modern job market?
The benefits the degree might bring
Getting a college degree isn’t all bad news. In a world that is increasingly business-focused, there’s something to be said for wanting to advance yourself and going into a career after college. Some college graduates will tell you that they changed a lot from the experience, mainly because they weren’t living at home anymore.
A college degree seems to be the required norm for employment in certain careers to advance the career progression ladder. For example, if you do something like an online MPS, you can advance in the field that you’re already in, without having to go through the additional extraneous work compared to taking a different route. In short, college degrees give you that stamp of approval, so the working world know that you’re the real deal and that you’re ready to enter it.
But is it all worth it?
The lure of college gradually declines upon realization that it’s simply nothing more than the personal experience. Although this sounds like a pessimistic stance, a shocking 85% of people lie on their resumes. Employers wouldn’t know or don’t seem to care about that A or D you received in math, but they also don’t seem to care anymore about whether you went to college or not.
While college graduates have some form of progression with a good resume, there is a steep learning curve compared to those who went straight to work after high school, who have a 3-to-4 year advantage.
Skyrocketing tuition rates and massive college debt
While you may be freaking out about God knows
how much student loan debt is hanging over your head, your friends that went straight to work aren’t worrying about such a massive debt. You were sold a bill of goods under the guise of the ‘college dream’: work hard and you’ll end up working in your dream career.
The reality is much bleaker than originally thought for some, as there is either no market demand for the career field or the market is oversaturated.
In the United States alone, students owe $1.5 trillion and this ever-increasing financial burden is something that people just want to avoid.
A huge contributor to this is the ever-increasing tuition rates at public and private colleges and universities. For example, tuition rates at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the 1989-89 academic year was $2,130 per year for incoming freshmen and sophomores and $2,376 for juniors and seniors. With all other costs, the entire four-year degree programs would cost $34,260 if you registered to attend in August 1989.
Fast-forward to the upcoming 2019-20 academic year. Annual tuition has skyrocketed as a result of administrative pension bloat in many colleges across the United States and UIUC is not immune. The tuition alone
is based on academic program, which ranges from $16,210 to $21,214 per year. An incoming freshman who is being admitted to attend this fall will be graduating in May 2023 with a student loan debt ranging from $125,560 to $145,576. These tuition rates are a range of 367% to 425% higher than it was three decades ago.
The rise of online colleges and online degree programs
It’s no wonder that online colleges and the degree programs they offer are growing in popularity. Not only can you avoid having to pay out hefty costs for transportation and living away from home, but you can also earn a degree on your own time and advance in your career field without coming out of college with the usual status quo of graduates: a state of confusion.
While there is no substitute for the college experience, many people are embracing college later in life, realizing there are affordable options that are helpful for the busy lifestyle.
It’s a class thing…
Unfortunately, college only boasts the career-boosting benefits for wealthier students, and its status as something ultimately useful for the rich is something that carries on into the modern day. According to studies, poor students who went to college only earned slightly more than those who were better off, but only had high school education. As the study concluded, even a degree doesn’t help some people to break through the ‘glass ceiling’.
However, college still serves as the only escape out of poverty for some people. Ultimately, many people succeed in life due to their time at college; an opportunity that they would not have otherwise had if they went straight into a job post-high school. Whilst college does have its many benefits – and this applies to people from all backgrounds – the truth is that it does favor some. However, as college becomes an increasingly accommodating space, there is always hope that this will also carry over into the world of business.
A college degree is still something that we regard as useful in our society, and it’s unlikely that it will become something that no longer gives you a bit of a kick-start in life. However, we have to face the ultimate reality that these things are costing young people a lot of money, and the results aren’t always enough to justify getting yourself into so much debt. We have to face the facts that an increase in college costs will ultimately mean an increase in people who are opting out of the system.
Whatever your views are on college, it brings with it many positives and negatives.