“Calculate your net worth.” As I sit in a homeowners class, the professor tells us to calculate our net worth. Now I’ll admit I’ve never been the best at saving money, but I’ve been getting better over time so I figure my net worth would be a decent amount. As I start subtracting my debts from my savings I’m still feeling pretty good…. Then I get to student loans. The 50 grand I owe Sallie Mae takes my net worth in flings it into the negatives. I can’t help but think, was it even worth it?
Go to college they said. Ever since elementary school we’ve been fed this line, time after time. It’s almost as if once you go to college life is smooth sailing from there on out. Well that couldn’t be any further from the truth. The national student debt is currently at 1.2 trillion dollars ( Financial Protection Bureau). Let that sink in for a second. $1,200,000,000,000.000. The average student graduates with about $26,000 in student loan debt, with about 10% of students topping $40,000 (The Institute for College Access and Success).
Now if you come from a family that can’t afford to send you to school, as most of us do, then chances are you graduate with a negative net worth. As children, college and universities are sold to us as great institutions of higher learning where we can grow into well rounded people and become wealthy. In some cases that can be true, but let’s get it straight, college is a business. Miss a class nobody comes looking for you, miss a tuition payment, that’s a different story.
Now it is true that people with college degrees earn more money than people without them, but as with any business you need to sit down and think of a traditional education is actually beneficial to you in the long run. If you’re going to school for something that needs a degree and will actually benefit you like being a doctor or lawyer, then by all means go for it. However I think i’ts time to get rid of the outdated thinking that college IS for everybody, and people that don’t go are any less intelligent than the next person. For many people the percentage of pay with a degree as opposed to without one simply isn’t worth the amount of debt that comes with it. Plenty of people are successful with out a traditional education because in most cases, experience outweighs the theoretical. If you were hiring someone to build your house would you pay the person who’s been doing it for 10 years or the person who’s been reading about it for 4?
And don’t get me started with Gen Eds. Paying for 2 years of classes for stuff you learned in high school and will probably forget and never use again.
I wan’t to say the memories I’ve made are priceless. However, with that 50 grand hanging over my head, I’m not so sure.