To College or Not To College, That Is the Question

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Imagine: You just received your diploma and are now an official college graduate. Without a cent to your name, at least you hold that sacred scroll of magic powers known as a diploma.

Meanwhile, your friend didn’t go to college; she accumulated no loans and made money for the past four years. You begin to wonder if you actually wasted your time or if college was even worth it. Many college students ask themselves the same question when it’s time to leave their four-year home.

People rave that college is one of the greatest experiences ever. You watch yourself learn to exist independently, meet interesting people with a million different stories to tell and learn so much your head will explode and implode at the same time. But is that really worth the money spent?

Chances are that when you’re in class, you pass time on your phone looking through countless images of selfies, food and dog memes on Instagram. There’s no point to going to class if you don’t even pay attention.

Even though a college degree could be the key difference between you and another job applicant, he might have the experience that you lack. The time spent watching silly dog Vines while your professor tries to prepare you for the future could be used in a far more productive way. 35 percent of jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree, which may not seem like very high now, but as each year passes that number will steadily increase. Suggestion: Put the phone away and focus for an hour.

Society programs children from the minute they start elementary school that they’re supposed to go to college and that’s that. What if you went down the other path when you reached the fork in the road? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 31.6 percent of 2014 high school graduates didn’t enroll in college. Many high school grads skip a college education and head straight to work because it’s too expensive, they can’t get in or they just want to start making money.

“I basically chose to work because the majority of the people I know are getting a degree just because it’s the standard expectation,” high school grad and field technician for Comcast Jose Rancano said. “I mean, jobs are going to require work experience anyway, so why not start soon?” Why is the percentage so small then? People who choose not to attend college never worry about student loans or panic over good grades and they have a job right after high school graduation.

Of course, going down this path has its cons. Besides never being able to say, “I gave it the good ol’ fashioned college try,” you’ll miss out on everything from football games to poor dining hall food. Also, according to a Georgetown University study, by 2018 approximately 63 percent of all jobs will require a college degree. “If you’re positive that you know what you want to be doing your entire life, then go to college, but if you don’t, then you’re better off learning a trade and seeing if maybe you will find something that suits you,” Rancano said.

One of the ways students get pressured to enroll in college is through families. Your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins probably won’t seem totally pleased with your decision not continue education past high school. Students constantly feel cornered by their families and they want to make their relatives proud, even if it means doing something you don’t necessarily want to do.

“I’m the only one able from all my siblings and parents to go,” Sante Fe College freshman Cristina Delgado said. “I’m the one who has to do well and get a degree so I don’t have to suffer and deal with what [my parents] dealt with.”

Making your mom and dad proud is always a primary objective in your life and to let them down is one of the hardest prospects to consider. “[My parents] want me to do well because I’m the only one who has what it takes to go through this,” Delgado said.

Of course, one of the most important things when choosing to go to college is the thing that drives many of us—money. As we all know, college isn’t a cheap expenditure. According to College Data, college costs around $26,000 for an in-state school on average. And according to US News & World Report, in 2013, roughly 69 percent of all students left college with a student debt around $28,000.

Instagram may seem far more interesting than learning about derivatives at 8 a.m., but because you’re paying for this class you might as well take something away from it. When you graduate and you’re handed that piece of paper, the clock begins. You need to begin paying your debt back–a college student, like a Lannister, always pays his debts. The only way you can do that is by getting a job. Luckily,US News & World Report studies show a 20 percent increase in entry-level jobs for new grads.

Going to school offers so many amazing things for us, it’s almost impossible to skip. Sure, there’s pressure coming at you from all directions, whether it be your family, student loans or actually doing something with your life, but the takeaway is immeasurable.

“I’m not learning purely for the facts and to make a living. I’m learning to gain the knowledge needed to make the world better,” University of Florida senior Cristina Gutierrez said. Cherish every second of “the best years of your life,” because it’ll all be worth it when the cap and gown are tucked away in the back of your closet.

Brandon is a Junior at Florida State University studying Editing, Writing and Media. He can be found raving about his fantasy football team that came in second place last season or eating something chicken related.

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