Is College Worth It?

Is College Worth It?

If there is one experience the majority of high school students share, it would be the tumultuous college application process.

Many teenagers anticipate college to be one of the most exciting periods of their lives. We gain newfound independence, create memories to last a lifetime, and are away from our parents for the first time as we transition into adulthood. 

Choosing the right college is crucial. The last thing a student wants is to end up on a campus or in a program that they just do not enjoy. College is meant to be a time to develop and hone your career passions. College will not only determine the next four years, but perhaps, navigate the trajectory of our lives. 

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With such an important decision comes lots of factors to consider. Educational programs. Location. Social life. School size. And, in my opinion, the most important factor, cost.

A college education is a huge financial investment. Its return is not guaranteed. And, if not purchased appropriately, it can suffocate a person’s future.

Within the United States, many tuition sticker prices average between 50 to 60 thousand dollars a year. There are lots of variables and tradeoffs that substantively alter that range. Attending a public versus private school. Selecting an in state versus out of state university. Living on or near campus versus commuting from home. Completing underclass requirements at a community college.

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Although most colleges in the U.S. offer some form of financial aid to students who pursue it, student loans appear to be a significant and growing component to many financing plans. 

To put it simply, college is expensive, no matter how one pays for it.

Recently, I have begun to contemplate whether college education is truly worth the investment. If education teaches you anything, hopefully it teaches you to be a critical thinker and weigh out your most consequential choices. So, that is what I have been doing.

But I want you to know, simply stopping to question and weigh the value of formal higher learning is huge for me. Why? There are a couple of major reasons.

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One, I have a passion for learning. Graduating from college and earning advanced degrees have always been a part of my mindset. I have thought college would be a great opportunity for me to showcase my dedication to educational excellence as well as deepen my knowledge and skills in my chosen field.

Two, my parents were first generation college students. When my grandparents immigrated to the UK from India they had very little. My parents worked extraordinarily hard throughout their academic careers in order to be able to receive a college education. For them, college was their ticket out of a financially difficult situation. They believed it would increase their likelihood of having prosperous careers and provide them accessibility to the opportunities associated with higher education. What I mean by “opportunities” is that even though a college degree does not guarantee a job, it does expand an individual’s professional network within their desired field. This occurs because one can reach out to professors, alumni, or even their friends in classes. Furthermore, college campuses are prime grounds for internships which could pave paths into the corporate world. They also aid in racking up experience to secure a job later down the line. In this respect, my parents’ thinking proved correct. Having witnessed my family’s journey to a better life, I know first hand education has played a pivotal role. Therefore, I have grown up with similar values and beliefs.

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For a sensible and financially literate person, value and affordability are always considerations. I suspect high school students (their parents and counselors) would be well served to be reminded of this when it comes to choosing a college.

I have given college and my future a lot of thought. I hope my peers do as well. I recognize it is anything but easy given the complexity of the application process and financing options in addition to the stress of exams and the life changing implications of the choice to be made. 

That said, I think college education is worth the investment for me in respect to my goals. But just as with most significant life milestones, it is not one size fits all. So, I want to encourage everyone to do their research and make a choice that aligns with your dreams and goals!

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Discover more about our featured Guest Blogger. Connect with Harsimran Chohan on LinkedIn: Harsimran Chohan.

Read Harsimran’s prior guest blog: Teens, Financial Education, Being Prepared for the Real World!

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About the Author

Harsimran Chohan is a senior at Sacred Heart Schools in Atherton California. She is passionate about financial literacy; active in student leadership; and volunteers in the community. She enjoys sports and is interested in becoming a pilot.