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Degree of Difficulty: Should You Go To College?

Updated on November 15, 2016
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Alem is an Entrepreneur and Writer with an A.S. in Digital Film Making.

Quiz Time

I'm going to assume you have heard the old adage or expression, "it takes money to make money"? Hmmm. I've been around the block, had money, lost money, I'd say that I can agree with this statement, but you have to take it with a grain of salt. In most instances spending a little bit of money can help you make a lot, if you add in a lot of research, perseverance, resilience, talent, and a little bit of luck you can get a nice return on your investment, but even then you still have a good chance of throwing your money straight down the drain and having nothing to show for it. No matter what your teachers or parents say, In some cases it doesn't matter how hard you try or how much money you put into successfully completing your goal, you can still fail. I know it sounds kind of negative, but give me a chance to explain.


Okay before I start I'm going to have to let you know I just graduated from community college with Associate Degree and I am in my early 30's, so you are about to hear a real time analysis from someone who has gone through and may continue to go through what they call "higher education". So where do we start? We start where you started; a snot nosed kid back in the day.

It doesn't matter if you grew up in the ghetto or Beverly Hills 90210. It doesn't matter if your school had a horrible teaching staff or if you principle was an idiot. It doesn't matter if you have a Master Degree or if you dropped out before you hit puberty. At some point in your life someone told you that if you wanted to be successful you have to go to college. This is not true, but I will come back to that later. What I want to focus on here is that statement.

Years ago when our economy was in good standings and employers were intent on hiring the best people they could, a college degree would ensure that you get paid more than the next man or woman who's education was not up to par with yours. But times havea changed my friend. Check the scenario;

The year is 2014. The so called experts say the recession is over, but companies and businesses are still dropping by the day. Either way you need money. Whether you were down sized, got fed up and quit, had family problems, or got so depressed that your work ethic declined and you got fired, the problem is the same; you need money. So what do you do? You're not the drug dealer or stripper type so you can't do that. You're never going to make as much money as you did at your last job because companies are not looking to spend they are looking to save. Instead of paying you what you're worth they are going to find someone not as good so they can pay them less. Hey maybe you can tell the prospective employer that you don't mind taking less money. This may or may not work. Some employers predict you getting bored with your position and pay and fear you may quit sooner or later. Damn this is hard. What to do, what to do? Then you get an idea. You think back to your childhood when that one adult or older relative said to you, "to succeed in life you have to go to college". That's it! Go to college. If you get a degree then these guys have to give you more money, right?

Higher Learning

Now that you have the bright idea of going to college, what's next? Oh yea, money. You need money. You see college is not free, it actually costs quite a bit of money to read books, and learn stuff. "Wait a minute" you say, the whole reason you are thinking about going to college is because you need money. How is spending money you don't have going to help you make money you need? This one is simple. This is America. We have credit! And oh boy do we love to use it. Even after the Financial Crisis in a day and age when banks are just starting to lend money again, there is one place you can always borrow money from. The Student Loan Fund.

You see the government has a ponzi scheme....I mean fund where you can borrow money from in order to pay for your higher education. No wait you haven't even heard the best part. Not only will they give you thousands of dollars with no collateral, you don't even have to pay it back until you stop going to school. I know, cool right? or is it? Hmmm.

"Tuition for public and private colleges has ballooned by 500%over the last 30 years, and only continues to go up. Private and public colleges cost an average of $29,000 and $21,706 per year, respectively. Many schools like Tufts University and Bates College will set the family back by over twice that amount. These ridiculously fat price tags have lead to the average college graduate walking away with about $27,000 in student loan debt." (Tate). I guess when people reference "higher learning" they're talking about the tuition prices. Jesus.

So what. Yea $27,000 is a lot of money these days, but you figure you can make that back in no time after you graduate and get that high paying job right after graduation. I don't think so buddy. "As it stands now, college is clearly not worth the debt for many young people. 14% of waiters and 16.5%of bartenders in the US have a bachelor’s degree. And 85% of students move back in with Mom and Dad after graduation. Many of these graduates are in for a rude awakening upon graduation when they realize their skills are not in high demand in today’s economy." (Tate)

Yup you read that correctly. It said 85% of students move back in with mom and dad. That's if you have a mom and dad. You don't want to know the statistics on still having both of those still living together is. Need more proof? Check out the charts in the upper right, they come from the U.S. Census. And just to let you know that $27,000 price tag is the average, you'd better not be trying to go to a private school or attempting to be a doctor or lawyer, then you're talking upward of $100,000. Even then you are not guaranteed to be rich right out of Law or Medical School. There are many doctors and lawyers who have been in there profession for over a decade and they're still trying to pay off student loans. This is all of course predicting that you make it out with a degree. "Nationally, four-year colleges graduated an average of just 53% of entering students within six years, and "rates below 50%, 40% and even 30% are distressingly easy to find" (Marklein).

The President's List?

So now you're wondering, "can it be this bad"? Why would all these so called mentors in my life keep telling me that I needed college to be successful if;

  1. The cost of enrolling is so high and keeps rising.
  2. A large percentage of students are not graduating.
  3. Even if you do graduate the jobs are not out there for you.
  4. Even if you do get your dream job, you will be spending most of your salary on loan payments (better not get married or have kids).

There are more haunting reasons why one might think twice about going to college, but those are my favorites and I think the most important. Okay, let's not spend all of our time bashing college. Surely there has to be some explanation or solution to these issues listed above. Hey, what about the government? They like helping people right? Eh...

Unfortunatlely the governement is actually one of the entities we need to point the finger at here. They have cornered the market on college loans, so they are basically a monopoly with no competition. You see when you have a monopoly you cut out competition. Just like the game, the key to success in a monopoly is GREED. Without competition that one entity has the ability to control prices. It's like AT&T. You may have heard in the news that AT&T has been trying to buyout T-Mobile for years now. The problem with that is in that instance AT&T would be very close to becoming a monopoly. The three major players are AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Once AT&T takes over one of the big three, where does that leave us? Sprint won't be able to fight them and eventually we would be left with one big player. At that point you have one company knowing good and well you need them. Sure you could go to Metro PCS or some other company that drops your calls or has crappy service, but most won't. No we would then be slaves to the company. Whenever they wanna raise prices they will. What are we going to do about it? Where else are we going to go? Nowhere.

So why would the government allow any competition when they are making so much money from the ponzi scheme...I mean student loans. Oh if you are wondering why I keep making that mistake it's because The Student Loan Fund reminds me of Social Security and a bunch of other government programs which in turn remind me of a ponzi scheme. This is an instance where there is no actual FUND but with enough people throwing money into a pot you are able to give the apperance of a fund by using the money in the pot to loan money to one person at a time.

"Until Washington stops indirectly inflating the price of college tuition, many degrees are simply not worth the cost. But hey, at least the 21.6 million young adults who end up back at home after graduation get to enjoy Mom’s lasagna once again!" (Tate). You tell em sista!

Wait lets just blame it on unemployment due to the recession. The one that the big banks that own the government caused. "In July, the unemployment rate for college graduates was 4.7%, up from 2.8% a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's still considerably lower than the 9.4% rate for workers with only a high school diploma." (Block).

What to know the difference between dropping out of High School and dropping out of college? "But unlike out-of-work high school graduates, many unemployed college grads face the additional burden of student loan payments. Two-thirds of bachelor's degree recipients last year graduated with an average debt of about $23,000, according to, a financial aid website." (Block).

Join The Debate Team

Okay so I looked at a few reasons why you may want to think twice about going to college, but I can't just look at one side without looking at the other. Even though college is tough for those without silver spoons in their mouths, it is a goal that can be accomplished. Yes, you may have to eat Raman noodles and frozen pizza more times than you like. Yes you may have to work in a fast food restaurant or strip at night to get through it, but those things won't effect you in the future, once you get your degree. Okay I'll stop being cynical. "As the Pew report notes: "Young college graduates are having more difficulty landing work than earlier cohorts. They are more likely to be unemployed and have to search longer for a job than earlier generations of young adults." What's more, other research has shown that these hardships tend to shadow their careers as low starting pay means future earnings are likely to be depressed as well." (Lee). Come on man give me some good news! I'm trying to debate here.

"Still to the question of whether a college degree worth it, the answer from the millennials is overwhelmingly yes. Nine out of 10 with at least a bachelor's degree said that college had already paid off or will in the future, Pew's survey found." (Lee). Okay okay. That sounds good. What else you got Lee?

"Moreover, in the work world, many employers see a four-year degree as a must, even for clerical jobs. So even if there are doubts about the value of a college degree -- many millennials in the Pew survey had regrets about their major -- what's clear is that the alternative is much worse. As the Pew report authors put it, "The picture is consistently bleaker for less-educated workers." (LEE). Booya! That may be true. I see it this way.

People go into college for a variety of different reasons. Some make it through the first two years. Some don't. For those that do, you may find yourself intrigued by different subject aside from your original interest and may want to change your major. While this may be a negative in the fact that it will end up costing you more money and time to change a major, it may actually be a positive, and I am using this example to show you something;


Even if you are the slacker of all slackers or a know it all, you will be hard pressed not to use your mind a little bit more than usual while attending college. I cut school half of my Sophomore and Junior years of High School. I got my shit together and graduated on time, but I was done with school. A decade later I got back and in the midst of sitting in these class rooms, taking these tests, writing reports, and doing dreaded homework, I realized something. I like to write, and from the straight A's and adulation I received from English and Writing professors I think I'm good at it (I know my grammar needs some help, but that's irrelevant right now). Since being in college for the last two years I've not only started writing scripts (I am a aspiring Screenwriter/Novelist), joined hub pages where I have received great responses for my writing, and built my own website from which I get a few bucks of residual income. In addition I went from a jokester who just liked to crack the class up in high school to someone fellow students looked up to. People actually wanted to team up with me on projects or asked me for advice on subjects daily. Ha! That never happened in high school.

Back then I was entrenched in a different kind of higher learning. I was "going green" and I don't mean recycling (puff puff give ya know what I mean). To be objective, you could say the creativity was always there, the effort, the intelligence, okay, but there is one thing that was not there. I was never ever comfortable standing up and speaking to large audiences unless I was making a fool of myself. After all of the oral presentations I had to give to ensure my A's I have not only learned how to speak to large audiences, but I've become quite comfortable doing it. Even outside of school. So if anything, even if you end up dropping out, changing your major, or owing a bunch of money in college loans, at some point in your college life you will flip a switch in your brain. At that point it's your responsibility to do something with it after it get's turned on. Don't believe me? Look at the list below. It's from an article from titled, "23 Famous Dropouts Who Turned Out Just Fine". Now, I'm not telling you to go or not to go, I just gave you a good amount of info that might help the decision making process. It's up for you to decide.

Look at every opportunity to enhance your brain. It will always be your most efficient weapon.

The College Dropout

23 Famous Dropouts Who Turned Out Just Fine

1. Funny lady Ellen DeGeneres dropped out of the University of New Orleans after just one semester. Guess she got the last laugh after all.

2. Mark Zuckerberg left Harvard to invent that site you spend way too much time on.

3. Media mogul Russell Simmons dropped out of Manhattan City College just shy of finishing his sociology degree.

4. Brad Pitt was set to be a JOURNALIST when he dropped out of the University of Missouri two weeks before graduation.

5. Ted Turner, the creator of the 24-hour news cycle, was expelled from Brown University after he was caught with a girl in his room. GASP!

6. Fierce songstress Natasha Bedingfield withdrew from the University of Greenwich after a year to focus on singing. Good choice.

7. Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College to become the father of all things Apple.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Fun fact: Before Jobs left Reed College, he took a calligraphy class that later inspired him to include a wide range of fonts (vs. one standard text) on the first Macs. Thus, one could argue computers have fonts because of Steve Jobs.

8. OOOOPPPPPPPRRRRAAAAAAAAH dropped out of Tennessee State University and seems to be doing all right.

9. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to pursue his love of poetry. Just kidding, he founded Microsoft.

10. F. Scott Fitzgerald left Princeton University because of poor grades.

11. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey dropped out of the University of Texas after seven years… It was probably time to leave at that point.

12. John Mayer dropped out of Berklee College of Music, only to come back later and major in sex appeal.*

13. Before YOLO, there was POLO. Ralph Lauren left Baruch College after two semesters to serve in the U.S. Army.

14. Lady Gaga dropped out of NYU after her freshman year, probably because she was busy plotting her world takeover.

15. John Lennon was expelled from Liverpool College, so he joined a band.

16. Jim Carrey dropped out of high school at just 16. Alllrighty then!

17. After failing every subject except English, Al Pacino dropped out of his New York high school to pursue acting.

18. Wolfgang Puck quit school at the ripe young age of 14 to become a cooking apprentice at a hotel.

19. Walt Disney dropped out of high school at 16, joined the Red Cross, and left for Europe.

20. Tom Hanks left Sacramento State to intern full time at the Great Lakes Theater Festival. You can’t make that stuff up.

21. Abraham Lincoln left school at 12 to help his family farm, and then he became THE PRESIDENT.

22. Tumblr kajillionaire David Karp dropped out of high school at 14 because his mom suggested he should focus on computers. Life lesson: LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.

23. Coco Chanel left school at 18 to become one of the world’s most famous fashion designers. Ooh là là!

Like This? Buy The Album

Works Cited

Tate, Kristin. "For Many Students College Isn't Worth It Anymore - Here's Why" Ben 14 February 2014. Web. 7 March 2014.

Degreed, Blake. "These Two Charts Prove A College Education Just Isn't Worth The Money Anymore" Business Insider. 6 June 2012. Web. 7 March 2014.

Block, Sandra. "In a recession, is college worth it? Fear of debt changes plans" USA Today. 31 August 2009. Web. 7 March 2014.

Lee, Don. "Is college still worth it? Pew research says yes" Los Angelos Times. 11 February 2014. Web. 7 March 2014.

Marklein, Beth. "4-year colleges graduate 53% of students in 6 years" USA Today. June 2009. Web. 7 March 2014.

Perez, Ashley. "23 Famous Dropouts Who Turned Out Just Fine" 18 June 2013. Web. 7 March 2014.


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