Education costs continue to rise and many college graduates are working lousy jobs with no relation to their field of study. For a time, I was counted among their number, but I’ve begun to see the subtle benefits of having a college education, even if it’s not paying off big time right now. Thanks to my private student loans I have an education that’s helping me build a better future for myself. These are the three biggest factors I am personally thankful for with regard to my time at school.
- Growing Up. I fear that if I had never gone to school, left my small town home, and learned how to fend for myself, I would be a lot less happy with my present life. Without the social stimulation at my school, I wouldn’t have been exposed to a lot of the thoughts that went on to make me who I am. My social group would be homogeneous and severely limited. I would have never had the experiences you can only have away from the people you grew up with. This is not all about partying and philosophy; it’s about experiencing the essence of life. Even if your major doesn’t translate into an awesome career right away, simply being able to expand your horizons is worth (moderate) student loans.
- College Grads Make More Overall. The college graduates mentioned above haven’t lived long enough to experience this for themselves, but it’s true. Excellent statistics gleaned by the Hamilton Project illustrate just how much more a college grad makes, on average, than a high school grad, over their career lifetimes. Young graduates can’t appreciate this (unless they look it up and think about it); a university trained worker doesn’t experience peak salary until some 26 years into his or her career. The lifetime pay of one of these workers is more than double their high school educated counterparts. And it’s not just about the money you make directly from your profession. It’s about what you’re then able to do with that money. The college graduate stands to make so much more in investments and business earnings than someone who doesn’t have the extra money to throw around. Once you’ve paid down your student loans, your options really look not that bad after all.
- It Opens Other Doors. Employers hire people, not majors. This is true. And of course a hard-working and inspired person will make themselves marketable, no matter the limits of their own educational background. But it’s harder to get over that hump. Simply having a college degree can get you a seat at the table in many application scenarios and other specifically social employment opportunities. On the one hand, I kind of hate this. It’s a cultural differentiator that benefits some on imaginary merits. But it’s the world we live in. This is the positive side of student loans. They put education and its many social benefits within the reach of those who could not otherwise afford it.
You’ll continue to hear lots of complaining from the anti-college crowd, telling you you can make it on your own. College is a scam and a ripoff. I’m here to tell you, it’s only what you make it. Sure you may leave with debt, but if you pick the right major, have a good attitude, and focus on advancing yourself in whatever way works for you, you will be able to make more of your life, more easily, with a college degree (and some debt) than without one.
This infographic explains college financial aid letters. Read along to find out how much is offered and how much you’ll need in financial aid.
**This post was a guest post written by Michael Miller