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  • Writer's pictureLJ VP LAFIURA & CAITLIN ORSINO

Is a college degree still worthwhile?


Graphic by: Pat Carbone

Yes


A college degree has quickly become among the most modern debates we move nowhere on. I’m inclined to feel it is. The college experience is something that can provide a great amount of knowledge but also comes with an increasingly high price. Balancing the cost and maximizing its value will bring the consumer an incredible experience worth the money.


The first crucial step to making a college education worthwhile is to balance the cost. Whether you are on a particularly tight budget or have a lot of financial freedom nobody wants to spend more money than they need to. If the store-brand peanut butter tasted the same as the Jiffy but was less expensive, then you certainly wouldn’t choose the Jiffy. As a student, the consumer in this transaction, it is your responsibility to choose a school that you feel will give you the maximum educational and networking benefits while paying as little as possible. As Lasell students, we are an example of conscientious consumers, finding a school with an education comparable to its contemporaries, but at a much lower price. Community colleges and using these practices make the cost of education much more palatable.


The other key is maximizing what you get for your education. This comes from two separate ways. The first is wisely choosing a major that you can get the most out of. Admittedly, this is the trickiest step and requires a fair amount of self-awareness. A college degree should not just be something you get knowledge and skills from, but also something malleable and transferable. If the work you do in pursuit of your degree can be useful in a variety of careers, then you always have more doors open and earning potential to those who can’t. The second step is to use your time in college to the fullest. Take the extra classes, attend the extra lectures, join the work-based clubs. The more time you spend bettering yourself in college, the better you will be for your college experience.


To make a college education worthwhile, these past things are not the first question, rather subsequent levels of thought past “Should I go to college?” A college education does still create greater payment opportunities later in life and a place to grow into the adult you are meant to be, but not if you are ill prepared to utilize said opportunities. If you are not in a place mentally, physically, emotionally, or financially to leverage these four or more years you go to school, then there is no value for you.

Imagine trying to learn to be a samurai without the ability to hold a sword. Incredibly frustrating and fruitless. While a college education is still worth the cost, the gap-year and no college paths are equally valid, especially in a world moving increasingly against it. To make a decision as big as college you need to know yourself, and be comfortable with the answers “no” and “not yet.”


Once you’ve decided to attend college, value comes down to three things, maximizing your education from a financial sense, choosing an academic path that you can be sure to use, and doing everything you can to use the time in college well. If you do those three things, the college experience can be just as rich and fulfilling as it was for our parents' generation, just with a little bit more work and reflection.


No


With the price attached to a college degree continuing to grow, the number of high school graduates that are questioning higher education’s usefulness in our modern society consistently increases right alongside it. Especially after the COVID pandemic, which brought the rise of remote learning and massive economic inflation, students were left to wonder if their online education would truly be worth the bill, which—more often than not—leaves them with a lifetime of debt.


In a 2023 study conducted by Federal Student Aid, it was reported that over 43 million Americans—approximately 13% of the country’s population—have student loan debt following their graduation from a higher education institute, totaling $1.6 trillion nationwide. After graduating, young adults are immediately forced to face the unfavorable reality of their situation: a job market that is hostile to inexperienced applicants, increased real estate prices, and the constant reminder of their debts in need of repayment. Students are finding that a bachelor’s degree in their desired field is no longer enough to help them snag a job that will pay for housing, daily necessities, and their education bill; employers are always hiring, but seemingly never selecting those in need of employment. Applications often ask for many years of experience, which an individual fresh out of college obviously does not yet have, but also cannot seem to gain in the first place if they are unable to land a job after graduating. 


While an employer’s desire for experience may not be daunting to students who have participated in career-oriented clubs or internships, they still may not even be considered for a job. More and more employers are utilizing AI programs to sort through resumes, looking for specific keywords rather than reading through an applicant’s previous jobs, skills, and experiences. Why would an individual invest their time and money in higher education—which was once a guaranteed ticket to a secure career for previous generations—just to have a computer program deny them the opportunity to work?

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