College Is Not For Everyone
For many, life after college means working at a job that doesn’t require college. Or working at a job that doesn’t cover both living expenses and student loan repayment. This kind of existence can be depressing, even soul-crushing.
Now there is nothing wrong with wanting or attaining a college degree. Higher education and betterment of oneself is a noble and worthy goal. A lot of careers require advanced education and training. Heck, even I have a college degree.
But consider the potential disadvantages of going to college:
- Only half of recent college graduates have full time jobs.
- Many college graduates hold jobs that don’t require a degree.
- You may not be college material.
- Student loan debt can’t be wiped out by bankruptcy.
Only Half Of Recent College Grads Have Full Time Jobs
According to a recent study out of Rutgers University, of people who graduated from four-year colleges and universities between 2006 and 2010, only 53% have found full time jobs. The rest were attending grad school (some after giving up on their job search), working part time, or unemployed.
The survey, titled “Unfulfilled Expectations: Recent College Graduates Struggle in a Troubled Economy” also found that half of these college graduates were working at jobs that did not require a college degree.
Many College Grads Hold Jobs That Don’t Require A Degree
In fact, according to information gleaned from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Why Did 17 Million Students Go to College?”
“Over 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees (over 8,000 of them have doctoral or professional degrees), along with over 80,000 bartenders, and over 18,000 parking lot attendants. All told, some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree.”
Take a look at the sample chart below. You see almost 30% of flight attendants and almost 25% of amusement/recreation park attendants have a college degree. But they don’t need it!
While almost 30% of American over 25 have college degrees, many hold jobs that don’t require a college degree because there aren’t as many jobs that require it. Beyond that, another sobering reason for these sobering statistics is the fact that we are still in a worldwide recession.
Lastly, we are seeing competition from college graduates in other countries. For example, in China, over 6 million students graduate with college degree annually. About a fourth to third of them (1.5 to 2 million) can’t find a job within the first year after graduating. Of those that do find a job, the average starting pay is under $400 per month. They are just as desperate in India, Europe, etc. Thanks to global communications technology, a lot of white collar jobs that can be done cheaper overseas are outsourced. This trend will only continue, reducing the number of jobs available in the U.S.
You May Not Be College Material
I know there are a lot of expectations these days for young people to go to college. There is a lot of self-esteem and family pressure tied up with that.
You are not alone. Not everyone is suited to the academic lifestyle. Learning from books and from lectures is not their style. Some people do best working outdoors, using their hands, or learning through on-the-job training. Some need to work to help support their families.
According to studies, roughly half of students at four-year colleges and universities don’t even graduate within six years! Take this USA Today article, “4-Year Colleges Graduate 53% Of Students In 6 Years:”
Nationally, four-year colleges graduated an average of just 53% of entering students within six years, and “rates below 50%, 40% and even 30% are distressingly easy to find”…
As many as 60% of students in some community colleges, and up to a third of students in 4-year colleges need to take remedial classes in the basics of reading, English, or math. Take this quote from a news article titled, “Report: Over A Third Of Students Entering College Need Remedial Help”
Nationally, in 2010, only 24 percent of ACT-tested high school graduates were deemed college-ready in all four subjects tested — English, math, reading and science… [And that's just of those who bothered to take the ACT test! - Paladin]
In 2008, an estimated 44 percent of students under 25 were taking at least one remedial course at a public two-year college, and 27 percent of all students under 25 were doing so at public four-year schools, according to U.S. Department of Education statistics.
Yet a survey by an education nonprofit group showed that four out of five students taking remedial classes graduated from high school with a GPA above 3.0.
So, you may not be college material. There’s no shame in that. There are many jobs out there that pay as much as (or pay more than) what people with college degrees make. And they don’t come with crushing debt. In fact, I bet some people with college degrees who are having a hard time making ends meet, are jealous of those without degrees who hold good jobs and have no debt!
Student Loan Debt Can’t Be Wiped Out By Bankruptcy
As they say, going into debt is selling your future. For up-front money now, you’re giving up a dedicated chunk of what you earn later in life.
Last year, the amount of money Americans owe in student loans surpassed the amount they owed on credit cards. But unlike credit card loans, student loans (whether from the government or from a private bank) cannot be wiped out by filing bankruptcy.
Many former college students are finding out that a significant part of their earnings are going towards paying off student loans. This happens whether they graduated or not, whether they can find a full-time job or not, and whether they are working at a job that requires a college degree or not.
And the money they are paying is equivalent to a car payment or to their rent. That can be a heavy burden that may not be worth it. In my next post, I will make a case for not going to college, including the potential financial gains of working full-time rather than going to college and going into debt.