Students Begin To Question College’s Real-World Value

by Brian Wilbur ‘24

Whether the quality of a college education has changed over the years is a matter of intense debate, but no one disputes that the price of college has skyrocketed. This leaves prospective and current college students wondering if a degree is worth $102,828, which is the average four-year college price tag for in-state. Out-of-state students on average pay $173,684. Because of this, students (and their parents) increasingly are asking the question, “What am I going to get out of college?”

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, undergraduate enrollment dropped by nearly five percent from 2021 to 2022. According to U.S. News, “Harris Poll found 51 percent of U.S. adults say costs have impacted their ability to pursue a post-high school education.”

Obtaining a college degree is often a significant investment in time and money, but it can pay off in the long run. A college degree can open up doors to higher paying and more fulfilling career opportunities, as many employers prefer or require applicants to have a college education. In addition, research has shown that individuals with a college degree tend to earn more over their lifetime and have lower unemployment rates compared to those without a degree. A college education also provides individuals with a wider range of skills, such as critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving, which are valuable in any field. Overall, while the cost of earning a college degree may seem daunting, the long-term benefits suggest that it is worth the investment.

But maybe not for every type of degree, and maybe not for every person’s situation or interests – some may prefer the job and financial security of other options. While there are many benefits to attending college, it is not necessarily worth it for everyone. The cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses can be steep, and many students take on significant amounts of student loan debt to pay for their education. In fact, the average student loan borrower in the Class of 2020 graduated with more than $30,000 in debt. This debt can be a burden for many years after graduation and may prevent individuals from achieving financial stability. Prospective college students are faced with the daunting task of deciding not only what career they want, but whether they will make enough money to pay off the cost of their college degree that only gets more expensive if they are paying the interest on college loans