Elizabeth stares at the blank computer screen, her eyes glassy and aching as she focuses on the cursor over the middle of the page. “Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that I offer you admission to the Stanford University Class of 2018.” Her entire life has been a series of tasks in preparation for this moment. Elizabeth Pearson was taught that the key to success in life is to do well in high school so that she can gain admittance to the best possible college. If she gets a college degree at a top university, any type of job that she desires in the field of her choice will be there waiting for her. After getting her dream job, she will be able to buy a dream car and house that she desires, start her own family, and live her life.
Her parents took great pride in their daughter’s acceptance to one of the most prestigious universities in America. After all, “College is a message to all future employers that you’re a rarified talent. College isn’t just an education; it’s a network, a signal, and an identity” (Thompson). Little did Elizabeth know that she would be indentured for life with $100k in student loan debt. She learned the scary truth about college. College is expensive, and she should have considered the cost of other schools rather than Stanford. For instance, “For the 2015-2016 academic year, the estimated cost of attendance for a year at Stanford was $65,177. For a California resident, the estimated cost of attendance for UCLA was $32,289. Over four years, that’s a difference of more Vergel 2than $120,000. Even if, hypothetically, the Stanford degree led to an annual salary that was $2,000 more than the UCLA degree, it would take more than 60 years of that extra salary simply to cover the added cost of attending Stanford” (Berkman).
A higher salary is not worth the cost of elite colleges. Elizabeth could have minimized her debt by attending a cheaper school like UCLA. Thus, she has to spend the rest of her life struggling to pay off her student loans while handling her living expenses. In fact, employers do not focus on where their employees went to college, expensive institutions lead to accumulating debt, and most importantly: it matters what you do in college. Therefore, it does not matter where you go to college. First, employers do not care where you went to school. One reason why is because employers are seeking workers that have skills and experience.
According to reports, “Employers cited written communication skills, problem-solving skills, verbal communication skills, and a strong work ethic as important candidate attributes” (“Job Outlook 2016: The Attributes Employers Want to See on New College Graduates’ Resumes”). Skills and experience are most influential as to whether or not an applicant gets a job because it determines how well they can complete the tasks given to them. A prospective employer expects the applicant to contribute to the workplace. The ability to think critically, communicate, and solve problems are important assets that employers are searching for. Furthermore, attending an elite college does not guarantee higher earnings in the future. By comparing the earnings of graduates of elite colleges and moderately selective schools, economists discovered the surprising truth. Vergel 3“In 1999, economists Alan Krueger and Stacy Berg Dale published a widely read study that compared the earnings of graduates of elite colleges with those of “moderately selective” schools. The latter group was composed of people who had been admitted to an elite college but chose to attend another school.
The economists found that the earnings of the two groups 20 years after graduation differed little or not at all. A larger follow-up study, released in 2011 and covering 19,000 college graduates, reached a similar conclusion: whether you went to Penn or Penn State, Williams College or Miami University of Ohio, job outcomes were unaffected in terms of earnings” (Bernick). It is common for people to assume that attending a well-known college will lead to higher earnings later on in life. However, this is incorrect because an employee that went to a cheaper school and an employee that attended a well-known institute would have the same earnings. As long as you have the credentials, skills, and experience to complete the tasks presented, it does not matter where you obtain your degree.
Additionally, where you go to college is of minor importance because it matters what you do in college. College gives students an opportunity to get a job or internship, maintain a social life, and build a strong relationship with college professors. Professors can offer recommendations for a job after graduation. Professors support and care about their students as individuals. They can help a student with his or her professional goals, encourage, and advise their student. This can lead to future success after graduation, regardless of what kind of Vergel 4college a student attends. Having a job or internship while in college can strengthen a student’s job application and teach a student how to manage their time. Maintaining a social life with classmates also helps to develop relationships that will stay with a student after college. Finally, attending an elite college is not worth the cost. Student loan debt often takes the rest of a person’s life to pay off and tuition for college is increasing every year.
According to a report done by the College Board: “In 1988, the average tuition for a private nonprofit four-year institution was $15,160, in 2017 dollars. For the 2017-2018 school year, it’s $34,740, a 129 percent increase” (Martin). Research suggests that college tuition is becoming even more expensive. As a result, cheaper schools should be considered in order to save money and avoid student loans. Moreover, attending an elite school may lead to a harder life after graduation. No one can deny that it would be difficult to pay off debt while working and handling other expenses. Zelia Gonzales had taken on this stress after choosing Cornell. “Two years later, she expects to reach a “pretty steep” $16,888 that includes unanticipated expenses such as health insurance, a single dorm room (her financial aid covers doubles, but she has a muscle disorder and wanted to live in more accessible housing) and her student contribution.” (“Even at Elite Colleges Lauded for Their Generosity, Some Students Take on Debt”). Although many people think that they can pay off their loan easily once they get a job, it is not that simple. It is difficult to work full time in college to pay off student loans because education has to come first. What is worse is that it is even more difficult to pay off the loan after college Vergel 5because there are living expenses that students are responsible for once they move out of the house.Given the way scholarships and financial aid are offered, many students often assume to graduate with no student loan debt, leading them to choose well-known institutions.
However, this viewpoint is inaccurate because “Seventy-one percent of students that graduate from four- year colleges have student loans” (“U.S. Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2019” ). The answer is clear: Attending an elite institution often results in debt. Attending a cheaper, less selective school is a simple solution. After graduation, employers are often seeking employees that have experience and the capability to succeed in the role. Moreover, focusing on maintaining a high GPA and forming relationships while attending any institution open doors to many opportunities. Attending an elite school as opposed to a less selective school does not determine future success.