It was recently announced that the Perkins Loan program, that provided low-interest loans to many students of low and average income, has been allowed to lapse by Congress. This prompted the usual complaints and arguments, at the heart of which lies a simple question: How can regular people justify going to college?
College costs astronomically more than it did 50 years ago, and costs have gone up even higher specifically in the last 5 years. Given a job market where it is not obvious what combination of skills, if any, will lead to decent employment, more and more people are questioning the role that colleges can play in economic, intellectual and civic life. The student who might have gotten a psychology degree or a communications degree before going to work as a carpenter back in the 90s, is now less likely to sign up for 4 years of poverty followed by the frustrations of making loan repayments.
Most noticeably, this issue affects adult learners. People seeking adult education are almost always motivated by a desire for economic betterment, rather than to partake in the “college experience” or simply for something to do. A 23-year-old going straight out of undergrad to get their masters in social work has a lot to consider, but not as much as a 45-year-old still paying off their student loans who is considering shelling out even more money just in hopes of getting a good job afterward. Whether pursuing an undergraduate degree or a masters, adult students are in a position of needing to know what tangible gains they will receive from undergoing more secondary education. So what are these gains?
Not going to college will cost you, on average, half a million dollars in missed wages and opportunities.
Workers with college degrees make an average of $45,000 a year, as opposed to those with only a high school diploma, who make closer to $28,000.
Even having an English degree will end up coming in handy. People with only a bachelors degree in English reported mid-career salaries of over $60,000.
Whether you’re considering a masters in medical laboratory science or a b.a. in psychology, college still has a great deal to offer the average person, in both economic and intellectual prospects. Any questions? Comment below.