The need for a college degree


College is, to put it lightly, expensive.

According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2013–14 school year was $30,094 at private colleges, $8,893 for state residents at public colleges and $22,203 for out-of-state residents attending public universities; and this is not including the loss of salary from four plus years out of the work force.

Looking at these prices, it’s no wonder we’ve all heard the horror stories of the debt some students rack up while going to school. It is even worse for those who pay to graduate with a degree in one field, but choose a career in another, making their college degree somewhat insignificant.

Because of the risk we take in paying for a college education, deciding whether or not to attend college can be daunting. However, seeing as I am one of the students taking an economic leap of faith by investing in my college education, I am determined to prove I am not wasting my time and money.

Although the horror stories of wasted money do exist, for the most part college will help you economically. Huffington Post reports college graduates earn approximately 84 percent more than those whom only graduate high school. NPR reports that people who graduate from college are more likely to stay in the work force longer, due to their jobs typically being less physically demanding.

Being able to stay in the work force longer means a better and more stable retirement plan. NPR says, “If you have a postgraduate degree, you will make — just in your retirement years – three to five times what a worker with only a high school education or less will earn at age 65 going forward”.

While college may seem like a lot, you are only paying and sacrificing your time for four years and the economic benefits you reap from a degree last a lifetime.

Still for students majoring in journalism, using to ‘find a better job’ as a reason to attend college may fall flat. A career in journalism without a degree — while hard to attain — is possible. So why pay for college to land a job where it isn’t necessary?

Well, in addition to helping you get a job, a college degree can give you what is needed to advance within the workforce. While you may start out with the same career, as someone with a lesser education, when employers are looking at their workers a college degree may be the extra push you need to land the promotion.

Looking beyond economics, college also gives many students the opportunity to explore fields of study they otherwise wouldn’t, it expands our horizons and can either help you find a passion for a study you didn’t think you had or confirm that you’re in the field you are meant to be in.

The last benefit I want to emphasize is that college makes you happier! Pew Research Center show that 42 percent of people with a college degree said they were “very happy,” whereas only 30 percent of people without a degree said the same.

It’s not clear exactly why this is especially because each person’s experience is unique to them. But college can enrich our lives on so many levels, whether it is the validation of intelligence, a mental push and stimulation, or the friendships we make while attending school.

College for these reasons can be worth more than the price tag we assign it. Perhaps what I’m trying to say might be best summed up in the style of MasterCard’s “Priceless” campaign. Tuition: $30,094, textbook: $124, coffee: $4.50, the feeling after graduation: priceless.