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“College Is a Waste of Time and Money” by Caroline Bird Essay

In the essay “College Is a Waste of Time and Money,” Caroline Bird argues that college is a complete waste of time and money for people. She argues that most students are unhappy and unsatisfied with attending college. She believes that they go to college because it has become the thing to do or because of getting pressure from their parents or societies. Furthermore, she thinks that college is not a good financial investment because career financial success depends on other factors. She believes that people gain true knowledge and skill while working in real jobs and not in college. Bird believes that college has to be judged not by what other people think is good for the students, but how good it feels to the students themselves. To some college may be a reason to avoid adult responsibilities, gain independence or avoid intolerable home situations, but to others college is an institution offering higher levels of educational purpose that will help them succeed in their careers later on with multiple benefits.

College can be financially expensive. Since it is very costly, many believe it is better to just get a job straight out of high school, not take any student loans, and start to save for your retirement right away. Though colleges have gotten more expensive, not all college graduates find high paying jobs. According to the article “College Costs Up, Little Debt Help For Occupy Wall Streeters,” it states that “colleges and universities continue to raise tuition far faster than inflation and churn out ever more indebted graduates, two reports released by The College Board today show. With states struggling to balance their budgets, the sharpest tuition increases this year were at public colleges; at four year state schools in-state tuition… and despite the college expenses, college graduates aren’t able to find a good paying job”(Forbes). Finding a well paying job right after graduation may be hard during these tough circumstances, but that does not mean people should believe that college was useless to them just because they can not find an appropriate job for themselves at that moment. People must be determined, have good skills and a strong will in order to achieve a high paying job. Many people do not go to college because of all the expenses. Beside the tuition fees, there are many other expenses to consider.

Many private colleges publish a total cost of attendance of over $50,000 per year and around $15,000 of this amount is for room and board. According to the article “College Cost Crunch” it states that “The College Board reports that while the published rates for private college tuition and fees are in the range of $35,000, nearly half of all full-time undergraduate students attend a four-year college with published charges of less than $9,000 per year in tuition and fees. And most students do not pay the published rate. On average, public four-year colleges charge $7,605 per year for in-state students, and the average charge for 2-year colleges is $2,713. For lower income students, the costs are typically even less, and there are many options for financing the cost of college. Federal Pell grants are available up to $5,550 per year, and many states provide additional grants of $1,500-$2,500 per year” (Forbes).

People believe that college is very expensive, but if they are able to do the right research and apply themselves for all these loans, grants and scholarship then this will reduce their tuition fees. It is very important for people to look at all their options carefully before making a decision that will have an impact on their career. The value of a college degree or certificate is very important today. The money and time people spend on college matters. College education is universally viewed as such a great investment that the cost and its return on investment are beneficial towards future careers. The impact of getting a job can be very difficult. In today’s economy, getting a job is pretty tough, and it is a lot tougher for those without a post-secondary education.

The chances of getting a job without a post-secondary degree or certificate are very few. According to the U.S Dept. of Labor the over all unemployment rate is 9.1%. The rate of people with only a high school diploma is a little bit higher at 9.5%. But college graduates have an unemployment rate at only 4.5%. Unemployment for ages 18-25 with only a high school diploma is currently over 50%, but the jobless rate for those under 25 with a college degree is only 8%. It is very hard to argue that skipping college to start working early is a practical financial alternative when over half of the young people out of high school are unemployed. The benefits of college go beyond creating improved career choices. The average pay for a job with a college degree earns almost twice the average for those with a high school diploma. People with higher education will have a lifetime work of $800,000 more in wages.

The jobs available to those with a post-secondary education are more interesting because they have more mobility between jobs and they have more advancement opportunities within companies. In other words, a college degree or certificate will greatly enhance the ability to get a job people will enjoy. In addition to actually liking that job and getting paid more for it, they have benefits including more leisure time, more opportunities, better health, less dependence on government services, and having children that are far more likely to be successful in school. Of course, there will always be exceptions of highly successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Steve Jobs who were very successful without completing college, but most of CEOs in America have a college degree. In her essay, Bird believes that students should go to college because they want to themselves, not because someone pressured them in to it.

The students should have an inside view of what’s good for them. If they feel college is not necessarily good for them, then people can not expect them to go through with it. They need to set their own goals in life whether it be getting an education or getting a job right after high school. Everyone should be able to make decisions for them self. In the article “Is College worth It?,” it states that “the main purpose of a college education is to teach work-related skills and knowledge, and it is to help a student grow personally and intellectually. College graduates place more emphasis on intellectual growth; those who are not college graduates place more emphasis on career preparation” (Pewresearch) Though college may seem pointless to others, it actually helps students grow intellectually while building new skills that prepares them for their careers. College is definitely a good investment.

Despite its expensive cost, people should not make any excuses because there are so many ways and opportunities to reduce the tuition fees. The money students invest in going to college will come back in multiples when they land a higher paying job. College graduates with a degree will always have a secure future financially. Aside from the financial benefits of going to college, the education students receive and the experience they gain from going to college will make them a better rounded person. It not only helps students grow intellectually, but it helps them mature as a person. It strengthens their skills, builds confidence and prepares them for a career in the real world. Those who believe going to college is a waste of time and money should really consider the benefits and values of having a college degree, unless of course if they are a true genius like Bill Gates, then by all means go for the American Dream!

Work Cited

Novack, Janet. “College Costs Up, Little Debt Help For Occupy Wall Streeters.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 26 Oct. 2011. Web. 15 July 2012. .

Novack, Janet. “College Cost Crunch.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 28 Oct. 2010. Web. 14 July 2012. .

“Is College Worth It?” Pewresearch.org. Pew Research Center, 15 May 2011. Web. 14 July 2012. . Caroline Bird. “College is a Waste of Time and Money.” The Norton Reader.1975


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