OPINION: Don’t Believe What You Hear — Going to College is the Right Choice

By Miranda Cavada
OwlFeed Journalist

Over the years, we’ve reconstructed the American Dream, which had always been to graduate high school, get an education, raise a family, retire, and die knowing you succeeded in life. What was once an almanac of the path to accomplishment has now become something that varies for everyone.

Photo courtesy of bard.edu

We all want the same result ― happiness ― but where do we start? When teachers pester you about the importance of college, it’s easy to take their advice with a grain of salt, knowing that it’s their job to teach you to succeed. Some of us take interest and pave the path for ourselves, but others are unsure whether a college education is up for the taking.

If you have no idea what to do after high school, or if you’re not certain if the high tuition rate makes your dream possible, then you’ve come to the right place.

First, let’s evaluate why most people decide to go to college. Our dreams don’t consist of flipping burgers or cleaning restrooms, so this is why we take the route to a secondary education: to gain the skills to make a living doing what we love. On the other hand, some even dream big enough to see themselves as a professional musician, actor, or athlete, and for a small minority, those dreams may come true if they possess the skills and talents needed.

Though it may seem cynical, a lot of us aren’t cut out for our dream life. We can’t all be five-star celebrities or prodigies like Einstein, so we have to settle for the next best thing if we want to make it anywhere in life.

Take it from me, someone who’s almost done with her time in high school and has learned the hard way that fame and fortune is a matter of being in the right place at the right time and being way too good at what you do. It’s why I settled for being a graphic designer instead of a rockstar no matter how much my love for music dominated all else because it was a more attainable goal for me.

“High school graduates earn an average of almost $30,000 per year. Bachelor’s graduates earn an average of just over $50,000 a year,” according to Education Corner. If a difference of $20,000 seems like a satisfactory salary for you, then college is the place to start. Four years of dedication and wallet-draining may sound out of your comfort zone, but numbers don’t lie.

Your salary depends on the career path you take, of course. A master’s or doctorate degree may guarantee you $70,000 and can increase over the course of your career. This should encourage you to pursue the education you thought you didn’t need.

The skills needed to work a white-collar job can also be attained. “People who lack educational degrees are more likely to be limited to basic jobs in service, manufacturing and construction industries,” according to Study.com. You’ll have a higher chance of getting hired if the employer knows you studied because it implies you have some sort of prior experience and knowledge.

With a higher salary comes the benefits of a longer life. A study referenced by HuffingtonPost.com “finds that college graduates report having ‘good’ or ‘very good’ health 44 percent more than their non-graduate peers do.” Some employers provide health care benefits and you’re likely to afford healthier food and a gym membership with a stable career.

No matter what your plans are after graduation, a college education will push you in the right direction. If you can’t afford it, financial aid is available although you might have to pay back most of it (with the exception of grants, of course). We can only blame the education system in this country for the high tuition rates. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot we can do about it at the moment.

This may sound like one of those useless essays you’re used to writing all of the time for school, but it’s, in fact, an example of countless assignments that ended up paying off in the long run. Keep your grades up, persevere in whatever you do, and your hard effort will eventually catch up with you. It may seem like a waste of time for now, but you’ll be rewarded with a bright future in the end.