According to Rebecca Mead, staff writer for The New Yorker , college teaches students “to nurture critical thought; to expose individuals to the signal accomplishments of humankind; to develop in them an ability not just to listen actively but to respond intelligently.”  In 2011 74% of students said college helped them “grow intellectually” and 69% said college helped them grow and mature as people.  Jonathan D. Fitzgerald, MA, Visiting Professor at Eastern Nazarene College, argues, “The value of a liberal arts college education –to you, to employers– is that you’ve spent four years in a place where you were forced to consider new ideas, to meet new people, to ask new questions, and to learn to think, to socialize, to imagine. If you graduate, you will get a degree, but if you are not a very different person from who are you are today, then college failed.”  Read More
Yes, College is Worth It: Busting Myths about Higher Education
So how do we know what’s a myth and what’s real? Knox Magazine set out to take on a few of the headlines-or bust a few of the common myths-about higher education to help us all better understand why a college degree is still worthy of pursuit.
Tuition, room, and board can add up quickly, particularly if you attend a private school, where the sticker price can exceed $50,000 per year. Even in-state tuition at many public colleges and universities is upwards of $20,000 per year. A college education does cost more today than it did a decade ago, but when you account for inflation, the growth in tuition, room, and board is not accelerating. At Knox, the increase in net price (tuition, board, and fees) has mirrored inflation over the last decade.
Further, the vast majority of students who attend college do not pay the sticker price, thanks to scholarships, federal financial aid, and institutional aid. The average price for a college education is $16,164 per year; at Knox, that average price is $20,804, and 98 percent of our students receive some form of aid, whether that be financial aid or merit scholarships.
MYTH: Colleges spend too much money on fancy residence halls and climbing walls.
As the competition for students has risen among colleges and universities, climbing walls, lazy rivers, and other amenities are now found on some college and university campuses as a means to make their schools more attractive to prospective students. The additions to campus aren’t always paid for by tuition; for example, Louisiana State University covered the cost of its new recreation center, which includes a lazy river, with student fees. But a large number of college and university campuses haven’t entered into what some call the new “arms race,” either because they choose not to or face budgetary or other constraints don’t allow for such amenities. In fact, once you start to read the stories that highlight these amenities, you’ll find that these may be more of an exception than a rule.
At Knox, we are mission-driven in all that we do and have worked diligently to control costs so that our tuition dollars are used to support the core inputs of a liberal arts education- high-quality faculty and staff who are dedicated to undergraduates, small class sizes, modern scientific equipment and instructional technology, and opportunities for students to put their education to practice outside the classroom.
3 Reasons Why College Is Not Worth It
1. You Likely Will Graduate With Student Loan Debt
Because college costs have increased so much, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to cover the entire cost out of your savings or earnings from a part-time job; instead, you’ll probably have to use student loans to cover at least some of the expense. According to The Institute for College Access and Success, 62% of 2019 college graduates left school with student loan debt, with an average balance of $28,950.
2. High-Paying Jobs Aren’t Guaranteed
The average starting salary for college graduates right out of school is about $51,000, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. While that’s a comfortable income for most, many graduates will earn less than that. And if you have hefty student loan debt that exceeds your income, you may struggle to make ends meet.
3. It Can Take More Than Four Years to Graduate
When it comes to getting a bachelor’s degree, you’ll probably anticipate graduating within four years. However, that may not be realistic. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that just 58% of students who enrolled in college in 2012 earned a degree within six years. The rest of the students were either still in school or dropped out.
For every additional year you’re in school, you rack up additional expenses and likely will need to take on more student loan debt to pay for your education. Taking six years or more to graduate can cause you to leave school with even more debt, and it may be difficult to dig yourself out.
Alternatives to College
At a community college, you can earn an associate’s degree or complete certificate programs that lead to stable careers. For example, the following career paths require two-year degrees and have above-average salaries:
Trade schools, vocational schools or technical colleges provide hands-on training for different skilled careers. The programs tend to be much shorter than college programs, with students graduating in six months to two years.
There is an increased demand for trained trade professionals, and you can earn a comfortable income. For example, these are the median incomes for the following trades according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
If you’re interested in software and web development, attending a coding bootcamp can be a pathway to a potentially lucrative career. According to The Course Report, the average bootcamp program lasts for just 14 weeks, and you can land a new job in data science, app development or cybersecurity.
If you have an idea for a business, entrepreneurship may be a better career path than attending college. As an entrepreneur, you can be your own boss and set your own salary. The average salary for entrepreneurs is approximately $43,000 per year.
However, keep in mind that starting your own business can be risky, and it may be several years before your business turns a profit. To get help developing your ideas and creating a business plan, take advantage of resources offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
College stress can lead to health problems and other negative consequences.
40.2% of college students reported feeling “frequently overwhelmed” in a 2012 survey about stress levels.  According to the University of Florida’s Counseling & Wellness Center, “The competition for grades, the need to perform, relationships, fear of AIDS, career choice, and many other aspects of the college environment cause stress.”  According to the Director of Student Health Services at Biola University, college stress can lead to “headaches, weight gain, chronic digestive disorders, fatigue, increases [in] blood pressure, insomnia, teeth grinding in sleep, general irritability, reoccurring feeling of hopelessness, depression and anxiety and low self-esteem.”