Post-Graduate Debt and the Career Path
Published: Sunday, October 31, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
According to a recent report, the average for student loan debt in the United States is $24,000. For most students, with their dwindling bank accounts and fewer and fewer prospects for post-college financial stability, this is a staggering figure. To many, this perceived "ball and chain" that comes as a result of securing a college education at a prestigious university can be enough to turn them away not only from pursuing their passions, but from fostering their skills, as well.
Students forced to take out upward of $100,000 in loans may decide that a liberal arts education is too high-priced for them, and opt for a course of study that will offer better job prospects. This, and the fact that they would, in essence, be paying off their semesters with Chaucer and Greco-Roman architecture for years to come, serve as major deterrents and beg the question – are students being priced out of pursuing their dreams?
For an increasing number of the nation's brightest minds, the criteria for college selection is centering more heavily upon the institution's resources for and guarantee of job placement. With this desire to be placed on career paths that match students' interests comes a desire to get the most value for the ever-increasing sticker price of college. While studying the humanities under flowering trees amid Gothic buildings is appealing (and worthwhile) for a large percentage of young adults, the reality that it may only slowly translate into a "real job" in the "real world" is motivation enough to follow a strict pre-professional route at a more affordable university. It can also mean that students who choose to be educated in subjects such as sociology, history, or philosophy will opt to pursue more lucrative and secure careers in the business world, stunting the possibility for post-collegiate education and exploration. After four years invested in a liberal arts education, their intellectual pursuits become but a part-time hobby.
To college professors and administrators, this notion is disheartening, as they are the main proponents and successful examples of the motto "follow your passion." However, for those who do not wish to make a passion for academia their future, but merely their foundation, hearing this sentiment can be confusing, as it doesn't seem to be grounded in reality.
It is important to keep in mind that this number is a national average and means different things for different students. For someone attending an in-state college, this may represent a subsidization of their entire four years of college. For someone attending Boston College, though, the number might be far higher. However, with the availability of these loans, today's students have a choice of where they attend college. The fact that they are willing to commit themselves to years of paying off their liberal arts education stands as a testament to the enduring value that exists in having a degree from an institution such as BC.