Is University Worth It?

Be aware of the investment you’re making when choosing to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

By: Marc Posth, staff writer

Summer is coming to an end and fall is fast approaching.  For many people, this only means a change in their wardrobes.  However, to millions of students it signifies the start of a new semester.

What is the appeal of university?  Are today’s educational standards more rite of passage?  Is today’s college degree equivalent to yesterday’s high school diploma?  What are the disadvantages or advantages of going to university today?

First, it is important to focus on what university is.  Throughout the world, educational systems are different.  We will focus on the American standards in education – going to a 4-year program after completing high school.

In the final year of high-school, students in the North American system have the option of going to university.  Their goal?  Attain a bachelor’s degree and then a job pertaining to the disciplines in which they studied.

In the United States, there are two types of schooling institutions:  public and private.  Their tuitions differ drastically.  According to the Institute of Education Sciences, one year of tuition fees will vary a lot from public to private.  For example, for the year of 2010-2011, a public 4-year institution has an average tuition of $15,605 USD whilst the private 4-year school will cost, on average, $31,975 USD.  Therefore, if a student chooses a program where the job prospects are few, they may find themselves buried in debt before even having a chance to begin a life.

This average cost also deters students who do not know what they want to study.  Many potential university attendees declare undecided majors.  With such a high annual cost, it may be smarter for them to decide which major and program to pursue before jumping in and acquiring thousands of dollars of debt in order to ‘discover themselves.’

Exuberant tuition fees can become a road block for many candidates.   Being able to afford tuition is important and while options such as loans are available, many to succumb to large amounts of debt.  So, is university worth the price tag?

Why Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

There are many reasons students decide to go to university.  The main reasons people choose to go is because of the career benefits a 4-year degree entails.  They know that if they attain higher education, they will earn more in their lifetime.

The United States Department of Labor has statistics that indicate the median weekly earnings based on the degree people have achieved.  Their results are to-the-point; the higher the education, the higher the earnings.  Thus according to surveys, there is, on average, a clear benefit in going to university.

Monetary gains are not the sole reasons students choose university every year.  Others have academic pursuits or professional goals where a bachelor’s degree is a key step.  For example, becoming a doctor requires a M.D.  The first step, of which there are many, is to hold a 4-year degree.  The same applies for lawyers looking to attain a J.D.

Finally, some students attend for pure subject interest.  Certain universities offer specific programs that are aimed at highly specific academic areas. The topic and degree itself is the draw for these students.

Richard Wiscott, Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs of Johnson & Wales University explains, “The primary importance of an education is that it prepares students with skills that transcend any one field or career and are useful over a lifetime, both professionally and personally.”  When students finish their undergraduate degree, they not only have the expertise of their subject of study, but also the social skills to help them navigate in life. 

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