By Razia Sultana
Parents talk in their seats, teachers fix their robes and students can’t hide their smiles. The venue is strewn with white carnations. A congratulatory arc of balloons acts as the backdrop. The students rise and hold their breath. “By the power vested in me, the Class of 2014 is officially graduated,” says the speaker.
Graduating from college is perhaps the greatest moment in an individuals’ lifetime. So, why are there so many cynics who say that college isn’t worth it? Who ask, “Why spend four years in an institution that doesn’t land you a ‘proper’ job? And why should you spend thousands of dollars if you don’t know what you want to do in college in the first place?”
More and more students find it hard to believe that college will give them any insight into life that they don’t already have. But this ignores two fundamental reasons for going to college: to explore career options and embrace new life experiences.
ProCon.org, a non-profit public charity, reports that in 2004, 73 percent of college graduates believed it to be “very important to try to understand the reasoning behind others.” Students will meet people in college who are very different. They find themselves in a sea of diversity where they can utilize creative passion, think critically and learn to respect others.
Students can contemplate God’s creation of mankind in philosophy class, learn about Paul Robeson in an African American studies seminar or simulate Millikan’s oil drop experiment in a physics lab course.
These are the hallmarks of a good education, and being educated within an institution that hopes to make you knowledgeable and worldly is an experience that would be imprudent to pass up. There may be professors who are biased and students who are small-minded, but even they help provide an experience that reveals a world that is more complicated than previously thought. It’s what makes you a better citizen of the global community.
This alone should be enough to convince the cynics who are skeptical about college, but there are many who bring up the issue of college debt. According to the Huffington Post, in 2012, the average college graduated with $29,400 in debt. Figures like this dissuade more and more students from going to college.
College should not leave you financially bankrupt — one way to avoid this is to consider the financial packages offered by each college. Often the most expensive private colleges offer the best financial package. Local, state, and national scholarships can ease the burden as well. And if college is still too expensive, visit a financial aid officer and appeal the package. Do everything possible to get the best deal.
And even if debt can’t be avoided, it is still manageable with a college degree. Procon.org also reports that an average college student with a bachelor’s degree earns $30,000 more than a high school graduate in a year. In a lifetime, that number adds up to $500,000. A college degree correlates with a higher salary. And after the latest recession, a college degree has increasingly become a requirement for many jobs. Between December 2007 and January 2010 about 187,000 jobs required a college degree. A study done by Georgetown University has projected that by 2018 about 63 percent of jobs will mandate some college education or a degree.
Additionally the extracurricular opportunities a college can offer are endless: research prospects, club activities and sports teams. With these opportunities comes the added benefit of networking. A college is a huge network. Alumni, professors, eating clubs and Greek fraternities can lead students to unexpected places — including a job.
You are the sailor, the institution is your vessel and the classrooms are your compass. Find your direction. Ask questions. Engage in conversation and embrace the failures. Only then will your passion find you the “proper job.”
And as you throw your graduation cap into the air, you’ll realize that college was worth it.