Opinion: Attending college is worth the cost

College tuition prices have been rising for years, yet people continue to attend them. Is this the societal pressure saying without a college degree you won’t go anywhere? Or does college actually have benefits that allow people to improve their lives after graduating? I believe college is worth it, though it might be a bit rocky in the beginning.

Take a look at employment rates of those who only completed high school compared to those who have some level of college education. During 2014, students who only completed high school had an unemployment rate of 17.5 percent, according to The National Center for Education Statistics. Students who had some level of college education had a 12.2 percent unemployment rate, and those with a bachelor’s degree had a 7 percent rate, according to The National Center for Education Statistics. This shows the benefits of attending college for some period of time. For the students who decide to continue and receive their bachelor’s degree, there is a more than 10 percent decrease in unemployment rates, according to the same source.

While I admit not all these jobs are in those students’ chosen fields, it is a job nonetheless, and thus they can start to reap the benefits of their college education.

When looking at the actual money people with college degrees earn, the statistics are unsurprising. Students with only a high school diploma earned an average of $30,000 a year, those with an associate’s degrees earned $37,000 on average and those with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $45,000, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The numbers only increase the higher the degree a person receives. Not only are people obtaining better employment opportunities the more college experience they have, but they also are making more money on average than those who only completed high school or less.

Next, take a look at one of the biggest downsides to college — student debt. During 2014, seven out of 10 graduating seniors from public or non-profit colleges were more than $28,950 in debt per student, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. This is quite a bit of money to pay off, especially for someone who just spent at least four years cramming for tests. When you compare this to the employment and income numbers above, one can see in the long run this debt will be paid, and students who went to college will continue to make more money than those who did not. This is why in the beginning, college might seem not worth a person’s time, but looking past the short term, college will end up paying for itself.

I am not saying everyone should go to college. Instead, I am advocating attendance for those students who are on the fence about attending college simply because of scary numbers of student debt. In the end, it will all be worth it.