Should You Persevere With College

It’s the classic educational rite of passage. From high school to college and then on to the career of your dreams. Simple as that, hopefully with no hiccups along the way. It’s also what the majority of high school grads do every year. Figures for 2014 show that 65.9% of them went on to college to study the subjects of their choice but, interestingly, this figure showed a drop from the previous year when 66.2% of high schoolers decided to take their education to the next level.
In another report, put together by the Census Bureau, it found that amongst Americans aged 25 or over 33.4% had attained at least a Bachelor’s Degree compared with 28% a decade ago and a mere 4.6% in 1940. So overall the trend is generally for more and more people to seek the perceived security that gaining higher qualifications will give them.

Why go to college in the first place?

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Naturally, there are a number of motivations that drive teenagers on to go to college. The first, and most obvious is to learn the skills that they’re going to need when they enter the world of employment. For some who want to go into the medical profession or law, a degree is essential. For others who have a vague idea that they want to go into business in some way a degree is important, but not always essential. Then there are the many students who choose humanities courses like literature and history who are really going to college for the love of the subject.
Apart from the academic side of things going to college also marks the start of adulthood and independence, perhaps including a move thousands of miles from home to the other side of the country. So for many, it also offers the chance to reinvent themselves as the person that they really want to be and meet a whole new social circle
Then, after the four or more years study, this is when most people hope to really start reaping the benefits of their higher education, primarily by getting the job that they want. There’s certainly some sound statistical evidence that the higher the level of education the lower the unemployment rate. Figures from The Bureau of Labor Statistics show that for people at a doctoral level it’s just 1.6% while at the bachelor’s level it’s only 2.7%. However, for those who dropped out of college early, it rises to 4.4%.

It pays to study

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These differentials are also evident in the average rates of pay. For those with doctorates, it’s $1,664 a week and bachelor’s level employees earn $1,156 a week. But for college dropouts, it’s just $756 a week, lower even than the national average of $885 a week. Even better news for grads is that starting salaries are now among the highest they’ve ever been.
But while this is all well and good there are a number of caveats that go with these statistics. For example, a job is by no means guaranteed on graduation even for vocational courses like medicine and law. And in other fields, it’s even more uncertain. In a study carried out by the international consultancy Accenture in 2014, it was found that of the people interviewed 84% expected to get a job in their chosen field but only 67% achieved their aim.
Then there’s the question, for all but the very richest students, about how they’re going to pay off their student debt. When you look at the figures they’re frightening. It’s been calculated that at the end of the four years’ study students leave college owing anything between $80,000 and $160,000 depending on the course they took and where they went. So once interest has been added that’s going to mean making loan repayments of between $920 and $1,840 a month for 10 whole years.

The dropout option

With these considerations, it really does start to beg the question whether cutting your losses and dropping out of college could well be a viable option. For some people, the decision is cut and dried. They aren’t getting what they wanted from their study or they are simply too depressed and unhappy to continue. For others, it’s a little more complex with many factors to be weighed up, the first of which is what they will do instead.
It may be that someone is business minded and may even be running an enterprise on the side already. It could even be that they are earning a little extra cash to see them through college, this has proved to be the case for many established poker pros. Dropping out of college to pursue poker is met with a mixed reaction by some of the biggest names in the game. There is a clear risk involved but and it isn’t necessarily one worth taking, but the potentially lucrative world is too enticing for some. The desire to chase a dream can often get the better of a sensible option, but it is worth remembering that achieving a childhood dream is often a long shot, as the best in the business will tell you.
For students who are finding everything a little theoretical and would prefer a more practical training then there are plenty of trade schools all across the country where they can study subjects like construction, become plumbers or learn any of the other skills that are always in demand. The important thing is that whatever a person who drops out of college goes on to do they should have a real passion for it if it’s going to be a success.

They’ve made it. Couldn’t you?

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It’s not as if there haven’t been many precedents in the past. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of college before completing their degrees and it certainly doesn’t seem to have held them back. Admittedly, these are all exceptional individuals with unique visions but they can certainly act as inspirations to the rest of us. What we can take from their success is that to emulate it anyone would need drive, and entrepreneurial spirit and supreme self-confidence.
Having said this, the decision to drop out of college isn’t one to be taken lightly. Big companies will almost certainly view anyone who has with suspicion and there’s also the potential of seriously disappointing parents and other family members. The money already spent on fees and accommodation will also have been wasted but will still need to be repaid.
With these points in mind, it may be a better idea to not drop out but take a year out. In this way, it would mean a chance to give life without a college a go without fully committing to it. If it works, great, if not there’s always the chance to go back to studying.

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