Graduates file in for the Spring 2019 Graduate Commencement ceremony May 9 at Hilton Coliseum. The ceremony was for students graduating with a Master or PhD degree. 

If you are reading this, you are likely a student at Iowa State University. There are many reasons one goes to college; to get a well-paying job, to continue to learn, to start a career or, if you are like me, there was never another option.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Iowa State and I love what I do, but not going to college never crossed my mind.

Even when I had no idea what I wanted to do. In older generations, going to college meant almost instantly getting a job, and because of that, the idea that going to college is the only way to move up in life has been instilled in our minds since we first went to school. But is your college degree worth it? 

The simple, yet somewhat depressing answer, is not as much as in earlier times. Obviously, this changes with different degrees.

For example, degrees such as fine arts, ethnic studies, environmental studies, and composition all have higher rates of unemployment than other degrees. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 53.6 percent of graduates are unemployed. Why is this? For one, degrees used to mean more simply because not a lot of people had them. Because of this, there was a large push to go to college, and the majority of people go to college.

Simply having a bachelor's degree no longer makes you stand out from the crowd. Not to mention the debt that one incurs from college. The average student loan debt is 32,731 USD in America.

However, I don’t think this means it is time to throw in the towel and drop out. There are many reasons to continue through college and finish your degree.

Because of the reasons discussed above, getting a well-paying job without a college degree of some sort is very difficult now. Even some blue-collar jobs require degrees from a trade school. College also teaches life skills like time management and critical thinking that will help you no matter where life takes you.

Finally, college is fun. As my father always said, you have your entire life to work, and college is the last time in your life that work doesn’t take the majority of your time. 

So what can you do to make going to college worth it? You have to do something to give yourself an edge over other degree holders. This could mean networking to secure a job before you even graduate, trying to find an internship at a company while still an undergraduate, working hard to get exceptionally good grades or joining extracurriculars like Student Government or other leadership positions on campus. 

College degrees are not worth as much as they used to be, and yet, they are needed today more than ever. This means you have to find other ways to secure yourself a job and live a life doing what you want to do.

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(2) comments

Steve Gregg

College can pay off for you if you manage it well. Pick a good major, get decent grades , and graduate in four years and it should pay off for you.

If you pick a liberal arts major, get a 2.0ish GPA, do 12 credits a semester, and take five years to graduate, it won’t pay off for you. That extra year costs a lot. When employers look at a C average GPA, they will figure you for a screw off.

If you pick a STEM major, get a 3.5, do 15 credits a semester, and graduate in four years, you will do well. I recommend computer science. Ever more of the world will rely on computers. As a fresh grad with a comp sci degree, you can get a $60,000 offer.

One thing that works against you is how expensive college has gotten. You’re paying for an extra year of college compared to when I graduated in 1977. The debt you are taking on is killing your twenties, turning it into a lost decade for you. Back then, college students did not need loans. You could work your way through college with summer jobs.

Anna Atkinson

Great article, I think you have lighted out a very important theme for every student. People really should think first about their plan and then start to act according to it. You should be in the business you appreciate fo real, why would you write for example the final paper about west region states and capitals if you didn`t even interested in it and how could you do your paper good? All the area and topics as a states capitals and abbreviations of the western region are unique and important so that is why only responsible people should work on it.

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