SparkNotes Blog

Why People Aren’t Automatically Choosing College

Today, about 68% of students go to college immediately after graduating high school. But what about the other 32%? Barring any major illness, family emergencies or just plain “screw the system, man!” many people are finding that it’s worth their time to wait. Check out some of the reasons that people either delay or opt out of the college track.

THEY WANT TO TAKE A GAP YEAR

While some friends might look down on you for not immediately heading off to college, researchers have found that taking time to explore, learn and meet new people actually improves your chances of success once you go back to school. Seeing the world as an independent adult can teach you a lot about what you want to do for work, as well as what kinds of people you want to work with and where you want to be. That’s reason enough to go backpacking through Europe, huh?

SOME PROFESSIONS DON’T REQUIRE DEGREES

In 2012, 44% of college graduates aged 22 to 27 were working in jobs that didn’t require a bachelor’s degree. (Sorry, but that Puppetry Degree from East Philadelphia Art School and Fabric Shop is not only going to waste your cash but cause you pain every time the global company you end up working holds its team-building talent night.) Why are degrees less valuable? Well, there are two things going on: 1) everyone gets a bachelors (a masters is the new bachelors), and 2) companies are interested in individual employee potential rather than factory-produced graduate seeding. At Google, non-graduates account for as much as 14% of team members, with an emphasis on learning aptitude and leadership skills.

THEY KNOW THEY CAN’T FINISH

Sometimes family health, abusive relationships and even poverty can make it difficult for students to finish their education, leaving them stuck with a heavy loan burden. Sometimes, it’s worth getting your home life or finances in shape before focusing on furthering your education.

COLLEGE IS EXPENSIVE!

More graduates are also taking out bigger  loans; the average debt has more than doubled to $33,000 in the past two decades. YIKES! What’s worse, according to the Huffington Post, student debt loan will exceed the median annual income for college grads by 2023. That means most students will enter a market where the average profession can’t even pay back the loans they took to get that job.

THEY ARE UNSURE OF WHAT DEGREE THEY WANT

Here’s the most important thing to remember: the value of a college degree is measured by what it’s actually worth to YOU. If you are bouncing around major to major and getting a degree you’re not psyched about, then you are only hurting yourself. It’s better to take the time to travel, work, explore, sew cat-shaped pillows, whatever, and find out what truly inspires YOU. After some reflection, if getting further education in that field is beneficial then by all means go for it. But don’t think that any degree will do. This is your life. You’re paying for it.

Have you had to make tough decisions about going to college?