Education is an investment in your future and increases future earnings – it’s always worth every penny. This seems to be the prevalent and accepted view of college and higher education. There’s a counter-current, however, as people question the rising cost of university, and the incredible burden teenagers are signing themselves up for when they take on student loans. And then you have the chorus of ever-practical (grumpy?) folks who claim that young adults should not be spoiled by having their education paid for, and that putting yourself through college builds character and life skills. They argue that so many people waste their advantages, go to college on their parents’ dime, and then make nothing of themselves.
I feel really strongly that if I have kids, I will pay for their undergrad years at college. My parents, being amazing, have provided me with many opportunities, and paying for my college was a huge one! I want to pay their kindness forward, and give any future kids the same benefits I had. But – while I feel my education’s value is immeasurable, while I am a much improved more eloquent more confident woman because of it, while I met one of the most important people in my life (my boyfriend) at school – is it right or is it necessary for education to cost 50K/year?
I’m not arguing that people who consider or attend an expensive, private college over a cheaper state school are silly or making a bad decision, or that they shouldn’t have that choice. Some forms of merit or need-based aid from university and government loans open opportunities and schooling options for people, which is fantastic. I truly do believe that a better-educated society is a better one. But boy, do I feel awful for those who signed themselves up for tons of school debt as kids, possibly to get a degree that isn’t financially lucrative. When everyone around trumpets that investing in yourself, investing in education, is the best investment you can make – it’s easy to not give much thought to how future-you will struggle paying off loans. Or whether the comparable, less-expensive options are necessary to consider.
How was your college paid for? Do you feel strongly that parents should or shouldn’t pay? I’ve realized there are way more options than I could see at the time – it felt like I needed to go to a good college, that there was no other path to life. But college right out of high school isn’t the only option. Am I preaching to the choir or do you disagree?