The better way to ask this question is: “Is going to college really worth the cost for me?” There are many paths you can take in life—college is simply one of them. If academia is something you enjoy and thrive in, it’s certainly worth the cost, especially if you’re wise about where you apply and can graduate with minimal debt. But if you’re a person interested in the trades and you enjoy non-conventional paths of study or simply have a strong entrepreneurial spirit (like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg), college may not be a wise investment.
There are so many careers that pay well and don’t require a college education. Going to college simply because “that’s what everyone is doing” isn’t a wise path to take after high school. If you’re simply not ready to decide, take some time and pursue your various interests. Work at a job that interests you. Research apprenticeships in the trades. Take time to explore other options like the military, which will pay for college if you decide you want both. Or work at an internship that can lead to a future job and career. Always remember college is only one path you can take, and its worth can only be determined by asking yourself if it’s worth it for you.
Dr. Deb Geller, EdD
Former Dean, University of California, Los Angeles
I would argue that college is a worthwhile investment, and not only because studies show that the typical college graduate will earn 84% more over a lifetime than those with only a high school diploma. The real value of the college experience is in the holistic development that occurs over the four or five years it takes to earn that degree. College is a time to develop a sense of identity and to refine one’s values. It's a time to develop interpersonal skills, communications skills, and leadership skills. Studies show that college graduates are more civically engaged; they vote frequently and get involved in local issues. Indeed, today’s college graduates are tomorrow’s global leaders. As the cost of education continues to rise, students need to pay more attention to the cost of education and seek ways to avoid debt. Strategies include attending in-state schools, working part-time, and applying for scholarships.
Find ways to make college more affordable with articles like The Real Cost of College and How to Pay It.