As Nelson Mandela once stated

As Nelson Mandela once stated, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” From learning the alphabet, to reading novels, learning the multiplication tables, to calculating logarithmic functions, our academic studies continue to play a significant role within our daily lives. Once the life of a high school student comes to a close, a new chapter is opened awaiting anyone who is prepared to take their learning to the next level. However within today’s society, a college education is no longer an option or privilege, but a necessity. Over the course of our adolescence, we have been raised and conditioned to believe that in order to succeed in life, one needs to obtain a higher education. Because 63% of jobs will require some degree of college education, the Department of Education should present college ready students with an affordable and efficient way to make college worth the risk.
For a majority of the nation’s high school graduates, waking up early and staying up late studying does not end after they walk across the stage. From a realistic standpoint, going to college is socially prestigious. The main reason that teenagers go to college is not because they choose to but because they have to. Most high school seniors are pressured by their guidance counselors and parents to go to college because it is “the right thing to do.” Although this may be the case for some, these students need to remember that community colleges and universities were established for good reasons. School is one of the many places where students learn a great deal of very important life skills. From listening to instructions and following orders, to communicating and empathizing with people of both genders and different ages, and even being able to develop leadership skills. Students have the opportunity to interact with other students and faculty, to join organizations and clubs, and to take part in universal discussions and debates. “On the other hand, a four-year series of courses can be seen as an apprenticeship in task completion, analytical thinking, and learning to work with others” (Rose). By developing these interpersonal skills, students will learn to become more independent and open to express their own innovative work ethics and ideas. According to Rebecca Mead, a staff writer for The New Yorker, “74% of students said college helped them “grow intellectually” and 69% said college helped them grow and mature as people.” The hidden value that college bound students need to discover is that when they push themselves to continue their studies, no matter how “painstakingly” long it takes to finish, they are being forced to consider different ideas, learn new principles, ask high level questions, and meet new people, which will only benefit them in the long run.
Let’s face it, college costs a fortune. What once used to be a mere average of $3,000 during the 1987-1988 school year has risen to a whopping average of $10,000 in the 2017-2018 school year for a public four-year institution. That’s a 213% increase (Martin). Nowadays, the tuition fees to attend college have skyrocketed in comparison to decades before making many students and their families question if receiving a postsecondary education is necessary. Although a higher education can only provide better employment opportunities within the near future, the amount of money that various colleges across the nation are asking students to pay for the course of their stay is costly. Take Ivy League Harvard University for example. Graduates across the country dream of being able to attend such a high ranked and well-known private institution. But that’s the thing, a good chunk of graduates can only go as far as dreaming, even if there is a select few who can turn that dream into a reality. Emmie Martin states, “a 1988 graduate of Harvard University would have spent $17,100 on tuition during their senior year. Now, in their 50s, they’d have to pay $44,990 in tuition for their child to attend Harvard today.” At a rate like this, the vast amount of students who face, or will soon face financial constraints, will find reason not to take advantage of obtaining a higher degree within their academic studies. Seeing how this rise in college tuition will not come to a halt anytime soon, students are taking matters into their own hands by resorting to part-time jobs as a way to earn the money they need to pay off schooling, housing, books, and food fees, “…thereby reducing the time, and perhaps commitment, available for schoolwork” (Oreopoulos and Petronijevic). Although the process of adulting requires this type of independence and responsibility, students should be able to learn and expand their knowledge without having to worry about the copious amounts of debt that they will have to repay.
No matter what angle it’s looked at, receiving a postsecondary education is required for success. More and more professions throughout the world are seeking out future employees who have the potential and education necessary to become apart of their workforce. Within today’s day and age, employers are not only looking for individuals who are determined and hardworking, but individuals who have the credentials and diploma to prove their capability. Higher education now plays a critical part in obtaining a better job due to the rise in demand for skilled labor. According to a June 2016 study, “99% of job growth (or 11.5 million of 11.6 million jobs) between 2010 and 2016 went to workers with associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees or graduate degrees” (“College Education”). For this reason, the value that a degree provides is higher than that of one’s intelligence or merit.