Rising costs lead some degrees to not be worth it


Illustration by Jaden Edison

Jordan Drake, Opinions Editor

Nearly everyone is told, starting in primary school, that college is necessary for a better life and will open doors to great opportunities. The problem is this is seldom the case. The reality ends up reflecting student loan debt, underwhelming entry-level jobs with even lower pay and a frustrating, ever-changing world where bachelors degree are rarely—if ever—utilized.

Degrees like computer science or engineering have higher chances of positive outlooks, but if a degree is not immediately lucrative, it can push students behind from day one, making it difficult to pay off student loans and get a decent return on investment. This is not to disparage liberal arts degrees or any major or career path in particular but the fact is, the prices and societal pressure to get any kind of degree is so out of control it seems ridiculous to continue pursuing certain career paths not worth it for students in the long run.

The problem with these “less valuable” majors is rooted in skyrocketing tuition. For the incoming 2020 freshman class at Texas State, students are projected to pay approximately $45,000 in tuition as in-state residents and nearly $100,000 for out of state. This causes students to end up paying tuition with student loans, creating a massive weight to carry before entering the workforce.

Individuals who major in education start their career earnings, on average, $38,000, with majors like social work and psychology even less. Even a degree in communications—a more generalized field—has relatively low starting salaries that come with the hefty financial burden of high tuition.

Additionally, it is important to take into account the number of graduates that never fully utilize their degrees. Nearly half of Americans work a job where their degree is unrelated. Worse, over 40% are underemployed, meaning employees are performing work they did not need their degree for or are perhaps overqualified to do.

Combine underemployment with record low unemployment levels and it becomes a heightened fear that a degree costing thousands might not payout, or by the time it does, debt has snowballed.

The unfortunate thing is these overall low-paying fields are still needed. Social workers, teachers and psychologists are crucial in our society. Our culture should still want people to study social work, english and even the much-maligned art history.

While few could argue such degrees are oversaturated, an advanced society should be able to study all facets of culture, both now and from the past. No degree is truly worthless, yet the crippling cost of college and student loan debt has placed these degrees in a negative light. Earning about $40,000 a year may be perfectly fine for someone who is happy with their degree and job field, but not when a huge price tag follows suit.

Large universities like Texas State should work to resolve degree costs. There should not be one-size-fits-all tuition plans and class schedules designed to bleed as much money out of federally guaranteed student loans.

People cannot truly believe an engineering major and communications major both have four years’ worth of classes to attend. Most students could probably point to a semester or even a years’ worth of redundant and pointless courses for their chosen degrees. Being able to reduce time in college would decrease the cost and ultimately the burden placed on people entering the workforce, fresh out of school.

The reality is not that degrees such as psychology, education, history and English are not worth it, but the university system has skewed them this way. If people have to live under the weight of student debt, their choices change and interests that yield pleasure give way to practicality, leading to a higher financial incentive and thus, unhappiness.

This degree and money situation, or lack thereof, is coming to a head and universities have sat on the sidelines milking the financial reward for too long. Either society wants everyone to choose a career and path solely based on monetary gain or college is once again made affordable so all studies can be “worth it.”

Jordan Drake is a communications senior


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