The Real Cost of a Higher Education

Lauren Shields, Opinion Writer

Every student in the United States is aware of the ominous expectation of their future placed upon their shoulders by society. This is a stressful responsibility  to uphold–this responsibility is college. The assumption that every student will be attending a university that will then open up a universe of possibilities for their career. 

 It is pitched to students that if they desire economic security and financial opportunity they must pursue a profession that will earn them a substantial paycheck. Sounds like the American dream, right? A prosperous career, picket white fence, children and regular vacations. No, not quite. This may have been the case about twenty years ago when our parents were entering the college/career scene. However, since then the cost of tuition has risen steadily. As the cost of tuition escalates, the extensive debt of young adults in the United States becomes a chronic epidemic. According to Business Insider,  “From the late 1980s to 2018, the cost of an undergraduate degree has risen by 213% at public schools and 129% at private schools, adjusting for inflation.”

The United states, depending on what city, is an expensive place to live and to thrive in such a quickly moving society comes at a cost. In order to afford the customary extravagant lifestyle, an education and an impressive diploma are must-haves. Receiving this degree is counter-intuitive. The idea is to get an affluent job from your degree but the degree has come to be so expensive it cannot be paid off in a reasonable amount of time. So begins the cycle of debt and in extreme cases, eventually poverty. 

Students have been told since a young age that they should do what they love and follow their passions in life. These passions can be manifested in their careers .  Unfortunately, many students once out of college are forced to take undesirable jobs that merely pay the bills in order to keep their debt in check. The degree doesn’t always mean money. CNCB did a story about graduated students and their college debt. The story tells three stories of individuals from different races, economic backgrounds and varying degrees achieved in college, but one trend among them stands out, their excruciating college debt. CNBC goes on to explain that, “The cost of a college education is increasing two to three times the overall rate of inflation” As a result of this, people are neglecting their dream jobs provided by their degree. Take for instance, education careers. The pay for those positions is so low that talented individuals getting their masters degrees often don’t pursue education because they won’t be able to pay off their student loans. As a result, students don’t get the teaching necessary in order to push them to higher education. It is a vicious cycle, and something must be done. 

 As highschool students, we are the next generation to endure this brutal tuition. The most frightening part is that the cost continues to rise. Making the rich even richer and the poor, just that much poorer.  What will college look like thirty or forty years from now when we have children trying to attend? At this rate it will be a nearly impossible feat.