A Student's View / College conundrum: Lifelong prosperity doesn't have to start with a plethora of debt

Dixie Love.jpg

You don’t need to go to college to be successful in life. Just look at iPhone co-creator Steve Jobs or Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Neither completed college. They both were college dropouts yet went on to be wealthy entrepreneurs and business magnates.

Plumbers, waste-management workers, millwrights, and construction laborers are among those who do not need four-year degrees to earn well in their field. A mechanic may want an apprenticeship or seek the route of a technical program, but by no means does he or she need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to have a degree.

As a high school student, I am looking into options for college, comparing financial costs, seeking scholarships, and putting in a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears for a high ACT score. One thing that strikes me as strange as I consider the debt I am about to plunge into in order to attend college: Why is it a near expectation for everyone nowadays to go to college?

In the past, it was perfectly acceptable to not be in college after high school. Go a bit further back in the past and you find a person did not even need to finish high school to live comfortably.

My maternal grandfather was one of the smartest men that many of my family members said they ever met. Yet he was an eighth-grade dropout and went on to work as an oil factory laborer. He made ample money to provide for his family of four and to build his own home.


A person may suggest that the encouragement for college is for the betterment of the future’s workforce. But I ask: Is 10 years of debt worth an office job?

I often question whether I should disregard college completely, but then I find myself with feelings of worry and guilt.

My worry is that I may not meet the criteria to be offered a job, even though I might have the experience and effectiveness and might be a force to be reckoned with in a particular area.

I may feel guilty passing up college because of the opportunities I would forgo or because I would let down those who believed in “more” for me.

There is no guarantee that stepping into the real world with a college degree will get you the job of your dreams or a livable wage. And the nice new letters you get to place behind your name cost you a pretty penny.

If the American dream includes having an ample amount of wealth, then why does it have to start with a plethora of debt?

Dixie R. Love is a Grand Rapids High School student.

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