Last September, almost twenty million students enrolled in colleges across the United States . That’s a nearly twenty-five percent increase in enrollment from twenty years ago, and a sixty percent increase over the last fifty years .
The idea that you must go to college and get a degree in order to be successful in life is as ingrained in American culture as watching football on Sundays. For some students, however, college may not be the right path. Getting a four-year degree requires a tonne of support and access to resources, and there are many students out there who are capable of “making something of themselves” without it .
The Steep Cost of Higher Education
The average cost of college tuition in the United States has increased by 150 percent in just the last forty years. Last year, the cost to attain a four-year degree from a public institution cost over 83 thousand dollars, and nearly 190 thousand dollars at a private school .
As it turns out, this so-called “guaranteed path to success”, is not quite as guaranteed as our parents and teachers once thought. While the cost of college tuition has been growing by about 2.6 percent each year since the eighties, wages have only increased by a mere 0.3 percent per year .
Previous generations were able to work a part-time job to afford tuition and graduate with little to no debt, but today’s students are facing a much different reality. In fact, with minimum wage at 7.25 dollars per hour, the average student would have to work almost thirteen hours a day, every single day in order to graduate debt-free . Student loans in the United States now make up a greater percentage of the total U.S. debt than credit cards and car loans , and graduates are struggling to find work to pay their debt off. As of 2018, almost half of all recent college graduates were either unemployed or underemployed [5,6]. The term underemployed refers to anyone who is working less than full-time, or who is working a job that is below their training or economic needs .