Stop Going To College, Seriously

Everyone has heard the same thing growing up, “go to college, you need a degree, don’t work the line.” But did we really understand the repercussions that came a long with taking out ridiculous student loans waiting four years for a piece of paper?


Understanding the Bubble

When you think of the word ‘bubble’, just imagine a financial crisis that has been growing to the point of bursting. Similar to the ‘Housing Bubble’ that caused the Great Recession, this new bubble created by student loans, may bring some deja vu. Student loan debt has now reached $1.44 trillion, greater than credit card debt and auto loan debt. With more and more people taking on student loans (44.2 million Americans) the bubble is constantly expanding.

A growing trend has emerged showing that the more the State subsidizes loans, the higher the cost of tuition rises. State appropriations have reached a record inflation-adjusted high of $86.6 billion in 2009, declined during sub-prime, but have since risen to $81 billion. Simply put, when you artificially subsidize a demand for something, the cost will rise.


Why Tuition Is Increasing

In the eyes of the federal government, students are just another way to move money to college treasury accounts. Since the federal government is guaranteeing the loans, colleges can raise the cost of tuition as much as they’d like regardless of the student’s income, major, or ability to pay back the loans.

Much like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guaranteed the debt on sub-prime mortgages, today it’s Sallie Mae doing the same for college loans. If the students aren’t subject to a market, why not raise the cost of tuition? Tuition is doing the same thing housing prices did during sub-prime.

Be weary of politicians who call for a decrease in tuition but call for an increase in student loans. It’s only adding more to this ever-increasing bubble.


Where Does the Money Go?

Today, many people wonder, “where does all of my money go?” Simply put, it’s going right where you told the college to put it. The college atmosphere has changed dramatically since our parents attended. More and more advocacy groups are calling for the creation of departments and administrators to cater to everyone’s specific need. While that does foster inclusive environments, it also creates another thing colleges must find a way to pay for.

Full-time faculty salaries have barely risen since 1970, but those people made up 78 percent of the professors. Now, 45 years later, half of postsecondary faculty members are lower-paid part-time employees.

The real increase comes from those administrators. According to data from the Department of Education, from 1973–2009, the number of college administrators grew 60 percent, 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions estimated by Bloomberg.


What Now?

School and Education do not mean the same thing. You do not need to attend school to pick up the skills needed for a specific job. There are plenty of online alternatives that can provide specific courses on subjects you deem worthy of your time. Sitting for four years in a classroom getting lectured at in order to receive a diluted piece of paper (because everyone has one now) is not required to earn a decent living.

Growing up, working the production line was considered an insult because you couldn’t make it in college. When in reality, those jobs actually pay out pretty well, considering the average worker at General Motors is paid $58,484. Most students don’t even work in the same field as their degree.

Considering the average STEM graduate earns over $65,000 while the average non-STEM graduate earns $15,500 less, not including humanities graduates who earn on average $43,100 working multiple jobs. Alternatives should be much more attractive. Your degree isn’t worthless, but you have to consider what area you study if you plan to take out massive student loans.

Companies are begging students to work the line since most that do are set to retire soon, there’s going to be a shortage. Less students are attending trade schools, which teach valuable skills that not everyone has, like plumbing or welding.

I’m not saying don’t get an education. What I am saying is that there are alternatives to make a living, such as attending trade schools, working in production, or taking online classes that are readily available, sometimes for free. College is a model of learning that is lagging behind in the current age of communication, putting yourself in thousands of dollars of debt is no longer viable to ensure job security in a constantly changing market.


Bonus

Here’s a list of the top-earning STEM and non-STEM degrees according to Business Insider:

  • STEM major (overall) — $65,000
  • Computer and information sciences — $72,600
  • Engineering and engineering technology — $73,700
  • Biological and physical sciences, science technology, mathematics, and agricultural sciences — $50,400
  • Non-STEM majors (overall) — $49,500
  • General studies — $53,700
  • Social sciences — $46,700
  • Humanities — $43,100
  • Health care fields — $58,900
  • Business — $55,500
  • Education — $40,500

Follow me on Twitter: @sollenac

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