Essay on Alternatives to College

Submitted By keikocanine
Words: 2262
Pages: 10

In high schools throughout the United States, students are encouraged to follow college-prep tracks as the traditional route to career success. Vocational education, on the other hand, is often treated as an option for those deemed at an academic disadvantage, a second-best choice. With rising college tuitions and difficulty finding employment after attaining a college degree, vocational training might be the best chance at a solid career. While the benefits of college are known, going to college may not be the best choice for all high school graduates. Having a college degree does not guarantee job placement in an individual’s field of study. College graduates may not make a wage that allows them to advance in life while repaying very high student loans. Attaining a college degree, for most, takes more than four years, and puts graduates in more debt, and more time away from the work force.
Students invest a great deal of time and money in a college education yet may not be rewarded with what they expected. A study from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity found that nearly half of all United States college graduates in 2010 were underemployed (Finance). Students are graduating at a faster rate from college than jobs in their fields are being created, so supply is larger than demand (The College Grad Glut). Unable to find work in their fields of study, many graduates are taking jobs as bartenders, janitors, truck drivers, and other jobs that require no more than a basic high school education.
Having a college degree doesn’t mean that one will make a good wage, and even if he does, he may be in debt for many years with student loan repayments. As more and more college graduates are working manual labor positions, their average wages, which dropped by 4.17% between 2008 and 2010, are likely to continue to fall (Why College). Most college graduates are saddled with massive amounts of debt whether they graduate and earn a degree or not, and college is getting more expensive all the time. In fact, according to the Department of Education, the typical four-year college’s yearly expenses are $20,986 (Why College), bringing the cost of a degree to nearly $85,000. In 2012, the Associated Press reported the average tuition at a four-year public university had increased by 15 percent between 2008 and 2010, and has increased 1,120 percent since 1978 (Power of Planning). In order for students to finance their education, most of those attending colleges must take out larger student loans than ever before to cover tuition and expenses. This increase in college expenses has caused a 58 percent increase in student loan debt in the seven years between 2005 and 2012 (More Evidence). With the average starting salary for recent college graduates at $27,000 per year, according to a study done at Rutgers University (Degrees), it would take roughly 11 years to pay off $21,000 in loan debt. For students who are underemployed with even lower annual salaries, it would take about 23 years to pay off the average student loan. A recent survey conducted by researchers at Rutgers found that many college graduates put off making any major purchases, like a home or car, because of college debt. Continuing education for many is not possible and moving in with relatives to save money is a necessity for slightly more than a quarter of surveyed participants (Degrees). Additional statistics show that one fifth of all students who take out college loans drop out of school. Out of those that drop out, nearly one in five have accumulated $20,000 in debt (Should All). More and more graduates are defaulting on their loans as entry level positions don’t pay enough to cover their payments, or there are no jobs for them at all. As these students default on their student loans, their credit ratings drop, causing added problems. Of those who attend a four-year college, just fifty-three percent graduate within six years. The