Is college still a path to a better life?

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Students attend college for different reasons, but a common one would be for a chance at a better life.

“I wanted to get a better future and potentially earn more money,” Jose Trejo, mathematics major, said.

Education is a bridge to a better life and has been seen as a crucial part of the American dream.

“Education makes you better,” psychology major Hanah Reid said.

“If you’re uneducated, you don’t really have many chances in the world.”

The price of education

However, while college may have been an option for previous generations, its existence may be the reason so many students feel the need to attend college.

This need has led to a total of $1.2 trillion in unpaid student debt as of May 2013 according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (http://1.usa.gov/1apgl5n).

A study from The Institute for College Access and Success (http://bit.ly/106YcDO), which runs the “Project on Student Debt,” indicates that the average college graduate will owe around $26,600.

The price of college tuition has been one of the contributing factors to the increase of student loans.

Despite the yearly increase, 2013 was one of the smallest increases in thirty years.

 

Leaving college

Some students are finding out that debt is not the only obstacle they will face when they leave college.

While the current job market has been tough for Americans as a whole, new graduates are having a particular hard time finding work.

In a study by Rutgers University, college graduates from 2006 to 2011 were surveyed to determine how they have fared since leaving college.

In the study, 51 percent of the graduates said that they were working full-time jobs (http://bit.ly/JnwIE0).

Fourteen percent had moved on to graduate school and were either employed full time or part time.

The rest (excluding those who volunteered in the Peace Corps or joined the military) were either underemployed or unemployed.

Underemployment has also been on the rise as 48 percent of graduates are currently in jobs that do not require a four-year degree (http://bit.ly/124fWnz).

Some students are taking part-time work, jobs not associated with their major, or jobs that do not require a degree.

This is due to desperation as student are unable to find work in their chosen field.

Returning to the nest

The tough job market and lower paying jobs have had other effects as graduates are starting to return home.

The current economy has caused an increase in the amount of millennials living at home with their family.

According to the Pew Research Center, 21.6 million “millennials are living at home, which is up from 18.5 million in 2007″ (http://bit.ly/16mdYzR).

Students look to the future

Despite the numbers, students are cautious, but hopeful about their future.

“I’m not so sure (of the future) because of how the world is right now,” Trejo said. “I don’t know, even with a college education, if there will be a job.”

However, Trejo still believes that going to school is good and that people can still succeed.

“The American dream can still be realized, but with the current state, it can be harder.”

Psychology major German Sanchez is a returning student who says he has experienced the real world and still believes college is beneficial to students.

“Well, it’s kind of a little grim to be quite honest,” Sanchez said, “but at the same time, I didn’t really follow a career I didn’t want to do for money.

“I want to follow a career where I’m happy with life and happy with what I do.”