OPINION: Parents must stop forcing their children to go to college

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I’m sure I’m not the only student who didn’t really have a choice when planning for the four years after graduation from high school. From the beginning of my adolescence, my parents instilled in me the project of going to university. In their minds, there was no alternative for me.

I don’t want to appear ungrateful. My parents encouraged me to pursue this because they truly believed that college was in my best interest and I appreciate it. Since my time here, I’ve made lifelong friends, encountered great opportunities that have allowed me to explore latent interests, and given me experiences I won’t soon forget.

However, through my studies and other experiences during my enrollment, I also had the opportunity to see the broader landscape of the college experience, not only through the eyes of a student, but also of a more analytical point of view.

I study political science and economics, and within these disciplines I focus on the statistical and computational aspects of understanding complex social and political issues. Basically, I spend the majority of my week looking at long sets of data and formulating them into graphs. One area we focused on specifically in my economics course is annual graduate income.

To give you a quick overview, this data was collected from the Education Data Initiative and the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

While the average starting salary for a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree has not changed, the cost of attendance and the student loan debt these graduates incur have skyrocketed. The average starting salary for graduates even fell by 5.7% from 1970 to 2020, while the average cost of tuition increased by 283% and the average student loan debt also increased by 322%.

The bottom line? The average college graduate is no longer the commodity it once was. If you do a simple comparison between the investment college requirements and the expected starting salary, it’s clear that employers don’t value a college degree as much as they used to.

Many of my friends are dual majoring, going into graduate school, or completing additional certification just to stay competitive. A friend of mine is even a triple major with four minors and plans to go to law school later this fall.

Coupled with rising rates of student depression and anxiety, students are reeling from the current stress of keeping up with school, not to mention learning throughout a global pandemic, climate crisis and now increased turmoil in international relations.

So what needs to be changed? A lot, but it’s complicated.

Given the current US political landscape and presidential administration, hopes that our government will cancel or even alleviate swathes of federal student loan debt are higher than they have been for decades. Even though it may seem that President Joe Biden has not adequately addressed the issue in his first year in office, he is still able to ask Congress to pass a bill or institute himself the change via a decree.

This could take a while, so until then, parents need to take a step back, assess the current landscape, and have an honest conversation with their children. Stop coercing them into believing that college is the only path to a financially successful future.

Yes, your generation may have been able to “work their way through college,” but if you paid more attention to your undergraduate microeconomics course, you’d understand the real financial strain of earning a bachelor’s degree in science. economy today. It’s cool that you were able to pay for college by working in a fast food joint, but now most people can’t even support themselves doing the same thing. Times are changing, and so are we.

Parents need to step aside and understand that what may have worked for them may not work the same way for their children. They should keep an open mind and not dismiss any option out of hand until they have carefully considered its potential benefits for their child.

Sean Gilley (he/him) is a senior political science and economics student with a certificate in computer science.

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