College: Where Your Dreams Turn To Debt

“Go to college,” they said, “Follow your dreams,” they said.  22-year-old Amy reminisced on all the stories she was told during her youth about college.  She initially didn’t want to go, but her family stressed it, encouraging her to follow her heart, though that meant following what they believed.  They assured her that her entire life would be full of wealth and prosperity upon graduation.

They were wrong.

It wasn’t until Amy graduated from college with tons of loan debt, no open jobs, and no car or house, that she realized life wasn’t as it had appeared from the images vividly pained into her mind from her parent’s words.  She was an Art major.  Not only was the field competitive, but it was hard to find anyone who actually needed an artist in the area she was in.  Her financial situation prohibited her from moving to a place where art actually mattered.  The one job she’d been counting on that was in reasonable distance had been filled by a more “qualified candidate.”

She strongly considered suicide, but after realizing that an act so irrational would financially and emotionally affect her parents, she reconsidered.  Dead or alive she’d be in debt, but the contemplation of what steps to take next wouldn’t leave her mind.  Amy was forced to take a dead end job.

The story is fictional and contains no factual identities but it represents hundreds of college students that share one common denominator: college is more if a financial burden than anything.. The reality of the matter at hand is that students need more than what colleges currently provide for career help.

In a study done in 2014, statistics showed that only 52% of respondents believed college adequately prepares students for the working world. (Employer After College)  83% of graduating seniors said they didn’t have a job lined up as of April 2014, despite the 72.7% reporting that they were actively looking for one.  Those numbers are rapidly increasing.  (Employer After College)

Even more disappointing than the inability to find a job after college is the debt that it drags behind.

“The average class of 2015 graduate with student-loan debt [would] have to pay back a little more than $35,000, according to an analysis of government data by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher at Edvisors, a group of websites about planning and paying for college. Even adjusted for inflation, that’s still more than twice the amount borrowers had to pay back two decades earlier” (The Wall Street Journal)

That number doesn’t even include students paying out of state tuition, who all have to pay double the amount that state residents have to pay.  It is quite ironic; that college students work to put themselves through school only to graduate and forcefully work even harder to pay off loan debt.  Counterarguments would suggest that the ethical move to make is choosing a major that actually makes you money but what about the Amy’s that exist?  The students that are taught to follow their dreams through college are left empty handed when they graduate.

So what is a college degree really worth?  Students devote their time and even worse money, to a system that can’t promise them prosperity or even a start at their careers.  Something must change.

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