Michael Snyder, Contributor
Don’t you wish that someone had told you the truth before you went to college? Don’t you wish that someone had told you that college has become a giant money-making scam that is designed to drain as much money out of students and parents as possible?
Yes, college can be a profitable endeavor if you pick your field of study wisely, if you can get someone else to pay for at least some of it, and if you can actually get a good job in that field when you graduate. But most high school students are never told to weigh the pros and the cons before they run off to college. The typical high school student is simply told to get into the “best school” that he or she can and to take out whatever loans are “necessary” to pay for that education. Our high school students are assured that those student loans will be paid back easily once they get “good jobs” following graduation.
But the truth is that there are some other things that high school students should be told before they go off to college as well. They should be told that student loan debt can cripple them financially for decades. They should be told that the quality of education at most U.S. colleges and universities is a total joke. They should be told that most college graduates do not get a “good job” once they graduate these days. They should be told that after they receive their diplomas they are likely to end up flat broke, waiting tables and living with their parents.
If we would just be honest with our high school students ahead of time, it would save many of them a whole lot of pain later.
Higher education is not necessarily a bad thing. But these days when it comes to higher education the goal should be to get as much for your money as you possibly can. You don’t want to end up spending four years of your life and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a degree in “art history” or “political science”.
If you are going to get a college degree, choose a field that will actually advance your career and try to spend as little as you can. Unless you have wealthy parents who can pay for it all, the goal should be to make as big of a profit on your education as possible.
The following are 19 things that all high school students should be told before they go to college….
#1 A college education has become insanely expensive. Over the past 30 years, the cost of college tuition in the United States has tripled. One father down in Texas says that he will spend a total of about 1.5 million dollars on college expenses for his five daughters before it is all said and done.
#2 As costs have risen, so has student borrowing. Sadly, U.S. college students are now borrowing about twice as much money as they did a decade ago after adjusting for inflation.
#3 Unless you have a wealthy parent, there are some schools that should be avoided like the plague. In the United States today, there are dozens of schools where tuition, room and board total more than $50,000 a year, and only a handful of those schools provide a top notch education.
#4 Our parents and our grandparents paid far less for their college educations than we do today. Back in 1952, a full year of tuition at Harvard was only $600. Today, it is over $35,000.
#5 The college textbook industry has become a gigantic money-making scam. It is now common for many college textbooks to be priced well above $100, and overall the cost of college textbooks has tripled over the past decade.
#6 At the end of your education, your diploma will likely come with a debt burden which will hang around your neck for many years to come. In 2010, the average student loan debt burden at graduation was $25,250.
#7 Student loan debt is one of the greatest debt bubbles the U.S. has ever seen. In fact, student loan debt in America has grown by 511 percent since 1999.
#8 Americans now owe more on their student loans than they do on their credit cards. In fact, the total amount of student loan debt in the United States recently surpassed the one trillion dollar mark.
#9 People that pursue advanced degrees can pile up absolutely enormous amounts of student loan debt. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, approximately 167,000 Americans currently have more than $200,000 of student loan debt.
#10 The student loan default rate in the U.S. is rising to unprecedented heights. In fact, the student loan default rate has nearly doubled since 2005.
#11 All over America, websites are connecting young college students desperate for college cash with “sugar daddies” that are willing to make a “contribution” to college education in exchange for some “companionship”. The following is from a Huffington Post article about this disturbing trend….
On a Sunday morning in late May, Taylor left her Harlem apartment and boarded a train for Greenwich, Conn. She planned on spending the day with a man she had met online, but not in person.
Taylor, a 22-year-old student at Hunter College, had confided in her roommate about the trip and they agreed to swap text messages during the day to make sure she was safe.
Once in Greenwich, a man who appeared significantly older than his advertised age of 42 greeted Taylor at the train station and then drove her to the largest house she had ever seen. He changed into his swimming trunks, she put on a skimpy bathing suit, and then, by the side of his pool, she rubbed sunscreen into the folds of his sagging back — bracing herself to endure an afternoon of sex with someone she suspected was actually about 30 years her senior.
#12 Once you start college, there is a very good chance that you will not finish. Federal statistics reveal that only 36 percent of the full-time students who began college in 2001 received a bachelor’s degree within four years.
#13 At most U.S. colleges and universities, the quality of the education that you will receive is rather poor. Just check out some numbers about the quality of college education in the United States from an article that appeared in USA Today….
-After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.
-Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago
-35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.
-50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages.
-32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.
#14 The good news is that you will have more free time in college than you have ever had before. One survey found that U.S. college students spend 24% of their time sleeping, 51% of their time socializing and 7% of their time studying.
#15 You are probably not going to be able to find a good job when you graduate. Last year, a staggering 53 percent of all U.S. college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.
#16 After you leave college, you are much more likely to get a crappy job than you are to get a good paying professional job. The following is an excerpt from a recent CNBC article….
In the last year, they were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). There were more working in office-related jobs such as receptionist or payroll clerk than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000). More also were employed as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives than engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).
#17 If you think that you will be able to “beat the odds” and land the job of your dreams once you graduate from college, perhaps you should consider these numbers….
-In the United States today, approximately 365,000 cashiers have college degrees.
-In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.
-In the United States today, there are more than 100,000 janitors that have college degrees.
#18 College does a very poor job of preparing people for the “real world”. In fact, one poll found that 70% of all college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the “real world” while they were still in school.
#19 Once you graduate from college, there is a really good chance that you will be moving back home with Mom and Dad. One recent poll discovered that 29 percent of all Americans in the 25 to 34 year old age bracket are still living with their parents.
So what do you think about the state of college education in America? Please feel free to post your thoughts below….
This article first appeared here at the American Dream. Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.