The College Scam: Why You Shouldn't Go to College

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Is College a Scam?


Americans are in crisis mode.

Debt, both personal and national, is drowning them up to their eyeballs. Jobs are hard to find, and what few opportunities remain offer less benefits and lower pay than what they used to.

Lines are forming at the unemployment office as jobless rates hit record highs, and employers who are hiring, bombarded as they are with applicants, have their pick of the litter in what is now in the truest sense a buyers market.

With so few prospects, many people are returning to school to gain a higher level of education, or to complete the education they didn't finish in their youth. Young people fresh out of high school are pushing now more than ever to get into colleges, all in hopes of avoiding the “Great Recession” and securing the bright future they were all promised by their guidance counselors.

Unfortunately, what seems like a bright idea may well lead to more financial trouble than most started with.

Young Graduates Aren't Prospering

According to this ABC News report, many college graduates -approximately 5.9 million- are forced to move back in with their parents thanks to the crushing weight of student loans.

As of 2010, the average student loan debt in the United States was just over $25,000 for graduating college seniors, and 9.1% of those graduates were unable to find a job.

College students in particular have a harder time getting their foot in the door, it seems, as according to this article published by the Wallstreet Journal, “Forty-four percent of 2009 graduates are either unemployed or hold jobs that don’t require degrees.”

Partly, the reason for graduate's woes are the same as everyone else; when the recession hit, solid employment became a scarcity, and people who at one time thought they had job security found themselves in the welfare line. Companies either can't afford to maintain the same staff as they used to, or they are using the current economy as an excuse to cut jobs and reduce labor costs.

All in all, it's a bad time to be looking to start a career.

Contributing to their hardship is the tired “overqualified” label. Many graduates are unable to find work in their field of study, and as one young woman puts it, many have become “over-educated and unemployed.”

What jobs many students went to college for are either not hiring, or hiring with preference to work experience over education level. Jobs they try and fall back on won't take them for fear they will demand more money because of their degree, or because they know the grad will quit when better employment comes along.

In short, the modern degree holder is too inexperienced to work a relevant job, but also too smart to flip burgers.

The Post-Secondary Bubble

Not only is a college education becoming less valuable in the current market, but the cost of attaining one is rising. USA Today reported last year that the rise of tuition was around 8%, and that number has only increased since. As tuition rates go up, so does the dependency on student aid, much of which comes from the federal government, and the number of loans accepted is increasing dramatically as more unemployed find themselves trading their time cards for textbooks, hoping to earn their cap and gown alongside students half their age.

At a time where the combined amount of student loan debt is greater than outstanding credit card debt, reliance on government aid is not something to pat ourselves on the back about.

Student loans add up to nearly 1 trillion dollars, which to put in perspective is roughly one-fifteenth the US national debt. As college prices continue to rise, the debt will only increase, eventually hitting a point at which the government will be unable to subsidize it. When this happens, many students will be unable to afford an education, and colleges will face budget shortages from the lack of incoming tuition dollars.

When Uncle Sam stops paying the bill, colleges and universities will be forced to either shrink and cut costs, or will have to be bailed out in a manner similar to what happened when the housing bubble burst.

Obviously, this is not good for the students, the institutions, or the taxpayers; but if nothing changes, the collapse of the educational system will be a reality.

Can't Find Work? Ask the Lucky Few.

Of course, not all students are in such a bind. While there are plenty of horror stories, some college majors are doing better than others at finding work. Here are the top five majors in terms of least unemployment, according to the Wallstreet Journal :

ACTUARIAL SCIENCE

0% unemployment, median income of $81,000

PHARMACOLOGY

0% unemployment, median income of $60,000

EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION AND SUPERVISION

0% unemployment, median income of $65,000

SCHOOL STUDENT COUNSELING

0% unemployment, median income of $20,000

GEOLOGICAL AND GEOPHYSICAL ENGINEERING

0% unemployment, median income of $73,000

While all those 0% unemployment rates are something to marvel at, don't go running to a school counselor just yet. Each of these top five fields are highly specialized, meaning that should the market shift again, those in school for these majors could find themselves halfway towards a useless degree.

Even worse is that with information like this public and available to everyone, these fields will likely become flooded with new applicants in the next few years as students change their majors in search of more secure careers. Those who jump on the bandwagon too late may find that all the good jobs are taken.

Buyer Beware

Education is portrayed in society as a means of bettering oneself, and as a guarantee of success for those who can make it to the end. The reality is that an education in America is simply not enough anymore for employers seeking practical experience, and the cost of that education has become a pair of shackles to those who once saw it as a key.

Essentially, this means that once a graduate gets into the real world, they may find that instead of the passport to a career that they were promised, all they have are their wits.

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Comments 9 comments

viquar profile image

viquar 4 years ago from Hyderabad, India

Debt = Slavery!

This is an engineered system where the citizens of a country are directly or indirectly forced to be in debt and rely on loans and grants. A person in debt worries for himself/herself, and has no time for the society, thus eliminating the threat of an up-rise against a bad government.

By the way, American students can now look for education from foreign universities which are much cheaper.


pookiebear00 4 years ago

This is truly intersting because I am in school as we speak and have been for the past 6 years. I have had few jobs here and there, but can't seem to find a job now in this economy. It's an outrage and I not sure how I am going to pay back my debts. I am starting to think going to college was a horrible idea. Im scared that I won't find a job since I been searching for one in the past 6 months and applied and recieve nothing. It's my worse fear that I won't be able to provide for my family and pay off my debt. I am guessing I am not the only person who feels this way and it's truly sad this is what our country has become where college students are not able to find jobs due to being in school and not having the work expereince that they need to gain a good paying job.


darknezz111 profile image

darknezz111 4 years ago from Southern Idaho Author

People like you are why I wrote this article. Americans have been lied to , we have been given false hope by an educational system that cares nothing about us, and yet we are expected to throw money at "having a better life".

If a person wants to go to college, that's fine- but I think more needs to be done to explain the downside of finding a job and paying back debt. Our system is flawed and is unlikely to ever be fixed, so people need to know how to work it for their best interest.


pookiebear00 4 years ago

I agree. We should be able to find a job after we graduate with our degree regardless if we have work experience or not. Isn't education enough to say "hey look what I accomplish?" Nope doesn't cut in this world now and that's the sad part is the fact that so many Americans are in debt because of college. It's never going to be fixed and we as students fall through the cracks because we can't find the job in the field that we study. To be honest I feel like it's sink or swim for me now that I am almost graduating and it's like no one is willing to help me or take a chance on me because I made the choice to go to college instead of work. It's like people are intimidated by my education and my intelligence and that is why I can't get a job. Believe me I been searching even putting my resume in places that have position open looking for any work. It's hard when you don't have someone to guide you or when someone overlooks your application because you have to much education.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

It's always great to have the degree though - so if you've worked hard to get it - it will pay off it just takes time. I've seen job markets like this - and times when the economy tanks before - unfortunately. It can only last so long though - the market is always up and down...but the people that do not have degrees aren't making money either the difference is - you have hope of waiting the market out - when the market corrects - those people still won't have a good chance and you will:) My daughters in college but she was lucky enough to get a job with tuition reimbursement at a financial institution. Working at a place like a hospital - even if you take a job that pays a little less - you might make out way better accepting a bit less pay for

benefits?? Good luck!


BarnBurnerDemocracyWordPress 4 years ago

Barn Burner Democracy is 100% in agreement with this article and finds the college in this country to be a scam.


Dominic 4 years ago

Just to throw out another argument for the sake of critical thought, I have a feeling this article tries to summarize a very, very complicated problem in less than five pages, causing nothing but senseless confusion.

First off, the article fails to mention any particular niche of the economy and instead makes a poor attempt to focus on the entire workforce as a whole. I simply cannot determine what particular industries the author is trying to describe. Surely they must understand the paths to becoming a successful film director, plant manager, or entrepreneur are all very, very different. I believe the author should show what industries he is speaking of.

Secondly, the author contends nowadays experience is valued over education, but I must contest that again no particular industry is mentioned, or statistics shown, making it very difficult for me to understand whether or not he is speaking of nurses or factory workers. Surely, if you want to be a nurse, there is no way you are getting there without an education.

Lastly, I would like to mention that I have never seen an ambitious, energetic person lacking a job they wanted. Every person I have ever seen fired or denied employment was based on their work ethic. Too many people out there fail to realize that the same thing that defined success five-hundred years ago is the same thing that defines success today, and that is passion, vision and most importantly, determination. You need to be motivated, stay motivated, and see yourself as who you want to be, regardless of whether you're shooting to be Yahoo!'s next CEO or Wal Mart's next store manager, the basic requirements are, and always will be, the same.


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 4 years ago from American Southwest

I think this article needs to be widely read and considered by high schoolers and their parents.

I think Dominic's last paragraph is also very true, and 50 years ago, the perception was that college graduate = ambitious, energetic person. However, today the perception is more that college graduate = someone who wanted 4 more years of partying. There are other ways to show energy and ambition.

Apprenticeships and internships, formal or informal, I think are the wave of the future.


Justin Little profile image

Justin Little 3 years ago from Clinton, Connecticut

I have to agree, the college debt I'm paying off really rustles my jimmies. 20k for four years of internships isn't a total ripoff, and I got a dose of reality while I was there, but that is a LARGE lump of money to pay off.

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