Is College Still Worth It?
By Ray Cross
Maybe you saw the news recently that student debt is now bigger than credit card debt. That came as a shock to me. I also find it shocking that those students who graduate with a loan owe an average of $23,300!
Does that make you wonder if going to college is worth the money? That’s a trick question.
The point is not just going to college. The payoff is in actually getting your degree. I hope you will not let anything stand in the way of completing your education and earning your degree.
The numbers make a strong argument. According to the U.S. Census, in 2007 workers with a high school degree made an average of $31,286 compared to $57,181 for those with a bachelor’s degree. That’s an extra $25,895 per year, on average.
A college degree doesn’t guarantee anything of course, but it does improve your odds of financial success.
Maybe you heard that there are lots of good jobs available for those without a college degree. It’s true. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 63 percent of the jobs created in the next eight years won’t require a bachelor’s degree.
The bad news is that the top five job categories are predicted to be retail sales, home health aides, personal care aides, office clerks and food workers, including fast food. Most of those jobs will pay between $18,000 and $30,000 a year.
So, if college can make such a major financial difference, why do students drop out? It isn’t just because the work is so hard and, contrary to popular mythology, it’s not because students party too much.
The main reason students drop out is money. College isn’t cheap and most students have to work to pay their way.
That’s a good reason to stay at UW-XX as long as you can before you transfer to a four-year university. You are paying the lowest tuition in the UW System and much lower fees than at a four-year campus. You have smaller classes and a better chance of getting to know your professors personally. Meanwhile, you are getting a genuine UW education.
If you are ready to transfer and go for your bachelor’s degree after this semester, congratulations. But if you need a few more credits to get your AAS, your best financial option is to stay at UW-XX. Ray Cross is chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin-Extension.