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ENG 122
Source Based Argument Paper
July 21, 2012
Higher Education: A Ticket to Success?
Statistically speaking, the more education you acquire out of high school, the more money you will make. According to the US Census Bureau individuals over 18 with a Bachelor’s degree earn an average of $51,206 annually vs. $27,915 earned by their high school diploma-bearing counterparts. With these, and other similar statistics available, many people feel that a college degree is the cure- all for financial, security. However, in the recent economy it seems that these highly sought after college degrees aren’t holding up their end of the bargain. Although higher education can be valuable, it is not absolutely vital to becoming successful. Higher education may throw an impressive diploma on an office wall, but contrary to popular belief does not always warrant its professed benefits.

Sadly, a big reason why college degrees don’t always promise success stems from a weak job market flooded with candidates also possessing degrees and similar qualifications. Put simply: college grads are a dime a dozen. This results in accepting positions wherever they are available, whether it is in a different field of study, or even in a position that requires no college education whatsoever. Emily Cohn discusses why this is in her article “In Weak Job Market, One In Two College Graduates Are Jobless or Underemployed”, she states that “Young adults with bachelor's degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs – waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example – and that's confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans” (Cohn, Emily). Why are these educated grads with Bachelor Degrees keeping blue-collar jobs that require a high school diploma or even less? Last year alone 53.6%, or about 1.5 million individuals, possessing bachelor’s degrees under the age of 25 were unemployed or underemployed. And shockingly, that number is on the rise. This economy results in employers demanding requirements for applicants, that previously weren’t required. Jobs are being cut rather than created, and have much more competition per open position. On average, many people will accept lower than standard salaries for positions for the sake of being employed. This accounts for half of the 1.5 million grads from the earlier statistic, while the other half is unemployed and still searching. In either case, now that they have graduated one thing is certain: They now are responsible for all those glorious student loans.

Annually the cost of a 4 year college averages anywhere from $12,000 for a public school to upwards of $40,000 for a private school according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Based on those numbers alone a college student will amass a minimum of just under $50,000 of debt over the course of a 4 year college career. That, of course, is under the assumption that the student finishes their bachelor’s degree within that 4 year window. However, the trends in higher education don’t support that idea. Time magazine states that “40% of kids who enroll in college don't get a degree within six years” You read that right; 40% fail to achieve any degree within 6 years. At a minimum cost of $12,000 a year, that’s an extra $24,000 added to an already high amount of debt and all in the name of financial security. Now, I’m not a financial advisor but amassing large amounts of debt doesn’t seem like a starting off point for financial security. Quite the opposite, if you ask me. If this economy’s job market could sustain the high saturation of college grads and compensate them accordingly this could be considered an investment towards the students future as well as society’s. However, with the job market and 53% of grads being unemployed or underemployed it’s a formula for disaster. Upon graduation the student becomes responsible to start paying off their...
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