How Necessary Is College?

Dane Lard, Student Contributor

For a long time, ‘college’ has retained the belief to be the biggest key to success in one’s life. Go to college and you’ll be guaranteed a career. It was the gateway to an affluent life. Or for most of us, that is. People could pretty much count on their knowledge in school smarts alone to carry them. But now, additional jobs that have opened up have altered the look at college completely.  

By 2000, the college enrollment rate was around 35%. Then, this percent was increased by only 5% come 2017. Now, the college enrollments have heightened to fluctuate between 67%-70%. While these numbers have increased, so have the dropouts. As Jon Marcus on The Hechinger Report says More high school grads than ever are going to college, but 1 in 5 will quit” (More). Enrollment has gone up, especially in recent years, but with that, the dropout rate has gone up, meaning that even fewer students are actually graduating, contrary to what the enrollment data suggests.

College is undoubtedly important for plenty of jobs, especially those that require very specific skills in a certain field, but there are just as many opportunities to make a living without a college degree, if you know where to look, and what you’re looking for. For example, welding is an incredibly high paying job, and you don’t need to have gone to college for that. You can do it right out of high school. The salary rates vary, but all of them exceed $20k per year, and most stretch up to $40k, $50k and even $60k per year. The average pay rate, per hour, in the US, is between $13-$26 (How). Welding often beats jobs that require a degree at base rate. For something so easy to get into, that’s a rather high pay rate. So much for needing a college major, right? 

The biggest issue with college is that while you do have a degree in a given field when you graduate, you also go home with something else. Debt. According to, in 2016, the average student loan debt of a graduated college student was a whopping $37,172. If that student took the standard repayment plan for the money they borrowed, which includes a 4.29% interest rate, they would be paying their college $382 every month for a decade (Student). Is it really worth it to get a fancy job, and to have a nice degree, to be stuck in debt for a large chunk of your life?

Instead of focusing on preparing students for college, prep schools should prepare students for life. Not everybody can afford to go to college, or to sit in debt for years. Some people end up building careers in a field that doesn’t require a college degree, but more likely than not, those people aren’t sure where to start. Prep schools stress the importance of college, but they don’t give the students any sort of alternative. What if a student just doesn’t want to attend college? I believe that instead of telling those students they will be failures in life, they should prepare them for the life ahead of them, by teaching them how to job hunt, fill out a job application, and even cook. All things a person would need to know to pursue a life unassisted by college. 

Going to college wouldn’t be as much of a problem if there wasn’t such a high tuition cost, or a community that hammers the idea that college is necessary for future students. Colleges could offer alternatives to paying off debts, and schools could offer alternatives to not going to college, because college is not absolutely necessary to survive and thrive. 

Works Cited

“How Much Does a Welder Make in the United States?” How Much Does A Welder Make In United States?, 

“More High School Grads than Ever Are Going to College, but 1 in 5 Will Quit.” Google, Google,

“Student Loan Resources: Financial Aid & Loan Debt Management.”,