What is the Price of a (Supposed) Better Future?

Theres been a lot of discussion in the media about the true cost of college and whether or not it is still a good investment. Many argue that a diploma still holds its worth in the long run as employers will generally pay you a higher premium for it. Others argue that the staggering and rising costs no longer justify that often lifetime of debt that comes with higher education.

I find myself very much able to relate. As I have mentioned before, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree a few years ago. I currently work as a recruiter for a local company that I sometimes question whether a college degree was necessary at all. I have also been paying my monthly loan bill and it seems sometimes that little has changed in terms of my balance. This can be so frustrating and sometimes I even day dream of what I could possibly have done with all the money that I will end up paying to the government instead (thankfully, all my loans are government loans). I could have a brand new, top-of-the-live sedan or gone on an awesome tour though Europe or bought every high-tech gadget that my little heart desired. This is about the time I wake up and realize that this is not just another trinket that I have invested in. This is a college degree. Despite my reservations at times, I still believe I made the right decision in going to college and furthering my education. I may be still paying for it, but I believe that I made the right decision for my future and hopefully, one day, my checkbook will agree. This is not to say that I think everyone should go to college. A perfect example would be my boyfriend. He works in the home repair business and does just fine with his GED, thankyouverymuch. He doesn’t really know if it would be worth all the extra payments to take a gamble on a diploma that may not be much better for him in the long run. I will say that working in the trades is much different from working in medical field or any other field where higher education is a requirement (as well as it should be). But do you really need a degree when you are laying tile and are absolutely happy with it? Hmmm.

I am a fan of higher education but only if it truly what is best for you. For instance, about 6 months ago, I was enrolled in graduate school to be a mental health counselor. I adored psychology and helping others so, naturally, I thought this was ideal. Well, let me tell you that it didn’t take long for me to realize that another $50,000 of debt was not worth the misery and drudgery that social work would have afforded me. I have nothing against people who choose that as a profession. I have met some wonderful people that I feel that have the potential to be really excellent in their counseling path and I wish them all the success in the world. I just realized after one semester that this was not for me so why keep spending money doing it? I have had some time to think about it and I think I have made the best decision both financially and emotionally. It just took a little decisive thinking to realize it.

So it it worth it? I would say the answer still is yes but you need to consider if the financial burden is worth it. Life is more than money so if your happiness rests on higher education, than I say go for it. Just remember that there is life after graduation and that life may not be as easy or rosy as those glossy college brochures make it out to be. What do you think? Is college worth it?

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