College is not Always Necessary

About the Writer William Whelchel, Staff Writer

Opening Argument

Insisting that one goes to college can often be a detriment in various ways.

Is college necessary?

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How far is too far?

College usually requires the student to leave home, even many small town schools require you to stay in the dorms for the first year, meaning that those who have a responsibility to take care of their family, whether for medical reasons or other, will have to leave their family behind in order to attend college. According to a survey performed by Sallie Mae in 2015, only 48% of participants reported living at home while attending college, a sharp decline from the 57% reported in 2013. The pressure to go to college may discourage those with complicated family situations from pursuing success without post-secondary education.

Cost vs worth

A common argument from those in favor of college is an appeal to the value of college as an experience. While it is true that college can have many benefits, these upsides can only be reaped by those with the tools necessary to succeed. Someone who goes to college simply for the college experience is setting themselves up for failure. Attending college without a clear goal can cause you to lack the credits needed to graduate after spending 4 to 5 years accruing debt. Data collected by nonprofit organization Complete College America suggests that a measly 19% of college students graduate with a 4 year degree after 4 years. Attempting to “wing it” through college greatly increases your chances of changing your major, leading to troubles with credits, which could lead to massive debt.

Money is one of the foremost barriers to entry for college, for obvious reasons. According to, the average price of one year of a public college’s in-state tuition is almost $25,300, with private colleges almost double that number. For some, this price is well worth it, and will be repaid easily with the money their degree earns them. Not everybody has this security however, meaning many will be left with massive debt, and little to show for it. While scholarships can certainly help with the cost, not everyone has access to large scholarships.

Too great a debt

Even if they could afford it, many career paths do not require a college education. In such cases, student loan debts can only be repaid through hard work, rather than reaping the rewards of the degree that caused the debt originally. Going in to college without a career path that requires a specific degree can end up worthless in the long run. It can be helpful to have a college degree as a backup plan, so you can get back on your feet a lot quicker if your original plan falls through, but does that justify the huge time, money, and effort investment, in something you may not even need? Instead of going to college as a fail-safe, it would be a much better use of your time to start saving money and making investments, which acts as an even better safeguard, in addition to being beneficial even without failure.

Closing Argument

For those who have the means to attend college with little money trouble, college can still be a huge waste of time and effort. The time spent attending college could instead be spent gaining work experience and networking. Many may argue that if money isn’t an issue, there’s no reason not to go, but that is simply not the case.