Education is a wonderful thing. It’s something that should be in every person’s life. We all need to continue to learn and grow as a human being to be happy. Don’t stop reading there though. We all need an education but are you one of the students who spend their senior year wondering, Do you need to go to college? If you are then you might want to consider this. Do you know what you want to spend the next 5 to 10 years after college doing? If so, then you should consider it. If not, you might want to give the world without it a chance first. If you aren’t so confident now then just continue along and you’ll begin to see why the economic arguments are completely skewed. With the skewed information it’s impossible for anyone to accurately prove that college is the best decision. It’s a personal decision. Not an economic decision.

The unemployment rate for new graduates is almost 9% (at the time of writing this.) Quickly note that unemployment for those with a high diplomas is nearly triple that. That is a steep difference that looks like it’s in favor of going to college. Look a little closer and it’s not all that useful. Unemployment benefits are more beneficial to people without a large amount of debt. The average person without debt and without high standards can comfortably live off unemployment. A college graduate doesn’t have that privilege if they have debt. Many can’t even pay their loans with an unemployment check. That means that getting off unemployment is a much higher priority to them compared to those without college degrees. It also is a difference of the type person that “typically” goes to college vs. the “typical” student that chooses not to but that will be later.

Debt from going to college can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most students will  build up much less than that. If you don’t have the cash to pay college off as you are going then you will need to have a way to pay off the debt. Your job will probably pay you more but what sacrifices are you going to have to make for it. After building a large amount of debt, you need to be committed to your career for at least as long as it takes to pay it off or until you decide to take out more debt and give college another try. You will have to pay that money back with interest. It is an investment that you have to be willing to risk your money on. If you don’t know what you want to do for a career then that is a very high risk investment.

The average student that goes to college is at least marginally motivated. The average student that chooses not to go to college is at least marginally unmotivated. This does not go for every student. The student that goes to college usually has better grades and better advantages in life than the one that doesn’t. Often the student that doesn’t go to college has more immediate responsibilities like helping a family survive. That is the type student that doesn’t care so much about school for a good reason. They need to put food on the table. If you’ve ever read a bit of Malcolm Gladwell you might recognize that even a small difference is the way someone grows up can cause a huge fluctuation in the places they end up. This discrepancy between the college bound student and the one that chooses to work does not necessarily grow. When someone says that economics prove that the student that goes to college gets paid more you have to consider whether the average student that chooses to not go to college is already different. The same goes for the unemployment rate. Does the college make the student more successful or does the more successful student go to college? No one can answer that question.

College is not an economic decision. It’s a personal one. It sometimes seems like everyone in the world says that college education is a necessity today but it’s just not true. College could be good for you. I don’t have a doubt in my mind. But it has its own risks and rewards that have to be considered carefully like any other investment.