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Should You Apply to College? 5 Things to Consider

Topics: Current Events
It’s fall and many young people are looking at those college applications and thinking “is college still a good idea?” It’s a relevant question considering the high cost of tuition and the student debt problem in America. It’s also an issue that spurred debate this past spring. Before you decide whether you should take the plunge, take these factors into consideration.

It’s fall and many young people are looking at those college applications and thinking “is college still a good idea?” It’s a relevant question considering the high cost of tuition and the student debt problem in America. It’s also an issue that spurred debate this past spring. Before you decide whether you should take the plunge, take these factors into consideration.

(Photo Credit: Saint Louis University Madrid/Flickr)

A College Degree Equals Higher Earnings

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Statistics offer indisputable evidence that those with college degrees both earn more and have more job security than those who do not have a college degree. According to the Pew Research Center, their survey of 2,002 adults and analysis of economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that college graduates ages 25 to 32 earn approximately $17,500 more annually than those with only a high school diploma. Pew data also shows that those with a bachelors degree or more had an unemployment of rate of 3.8 percent versus those without a college degree who had a 12.2 percent unemployment rate.

Choose Your Major Wisely

How much you can expect to make after earning a college degree depends largely on the major you choose. If you’re thinking of applying to college because you want to become an early childhood teacher, just know that major has the lowest average income amongst graduates. It might be worth it if you’re prepared to live on that salary and love what you do. Alternatively, if making a high wage is critical in your decision to go to college, engineering might be the way to go. According to Payscale’s College Salary Report, four out of the top five highest earning degrees were in engineering.

Get Schooled

Whether or not you decide to apply to college might also be determined by the colleges available to you. Some schools have much higher tuition along with higher student loan defaults while other colleges boast a much better ROI. You can research schools available to you using Payscale’s College ROI Report to find out whether applying is a risk worth taking.

Money Isn’t Everything

How much you invest in a college education and earn afterwards might be considered relative in the grander scheme of what makes our lives meaningful and worthwhile. Obviously money is the cause of much stress and offers opportunities otherwise unobtainable, but it isn’t the singular determinant of well being. A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that earning a bachelor’s degree by midlife is linked with having fewer depressive symptoms and better self-rated health. College also offers opportunities to develop invaluable soft skills that are highly desirable in the workplace, but also beneficial in all aspects of life such as collaboration, time management, communication and interpersonal skills, and leadership.

Finishing Is Critical

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, less than 60 percent of full-time students enrolled in college for the first time graduate within six years. The statistics are even lower for part-time students, minorities, older, and low-income students. Applying to college might be a great idea if you’re sure you can finish. It might be a terrible idea if you aren’t sure. Without the college degree, you won’t be earning the higher salaries and you’ll be stuck paying back whatever you owe for the schooling you did complete. Finishing is a must.

Tell Us What You Think

Is applying to college a good idea? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Tavia Tindall
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