Do you believe in conspiracies? Perhaps you don’t think there is a massive UFO cover-up or that Big Foot is secretly being held in an underground bunker however, you do wonder about “the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey might say. The rising cost of a college education has always been one of those topics where there seems to be more to the story.
Consider this quote from a college financial aid insider. “You go into massive amounts of debt just to get an education that you need as a prerequisite to get a job. Then you spend the rest of your life paying off that educational debt. There has got to be a better way.”
When I heard this statement it made me stop, think and question everything that I had experienced personally as a high school student approaching college admissions, as a student in college and now as a parent preparing to send my daughter to college.
Once Upon A Time…
It reads almost like a fairytale. We are taught form a very early age that if we desire to have a better quality of life than our parents, we must obtain a college degree. Try using Google to search the phrase “value of a college degree”. You would not be surprised to learn that most of the results are filled with charts and graphs that describe the earning “potential” of a college graduate compared with that of someone with only a high school diploma. It makes sense doesn’t it? In fact companies announce that to even qualify to work for them you must have at least an Associate’s Degree and most likely a Bachelor’s Degree.
Reality Sets In…
For those of us that are old enough to have experienced life 5 – 15 years after college we understand that the fairytale was only partly true. We were not told that while in most cases we do enjoy a better than income than our undereducated counterparts, we were not fully informed about the true cost of all of the student loan debt it took to fund that college education. We were also not told that while we did get our dream job, it was only after changing careers or industries multiple times. In fact, I wonder if as you read this now, you are currently employed in the field for which you received your college degree.
It Gets Worse…
What’s worse is if you attended a well-known expensive university only to find your self today, working at the same company, in the same position, with other people who attended less expensive schools. This would be bad enough if the story ends here but unfortunately it doesn’t. After all of this you would think that we would have learned from our mistakes but we have not. Without knowing it we now are preparing our children to make this high school to college transition no better prepared than we were.