Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Cost of College

The United States is infamous for its exorbitant college tuition fees. According to a 2014/15 report, the average tuition at an American four-year college can cost up to $31,000 per year. Going by this amount, an American college student can spend well over $100,000 dollars just in tuition, not counting textbooks and housing, among other basic living expenses. For young adults (and really, all adults for that matter), this is an impossible sum of money to rake together over a four-year time span. Most students get loans, which means there’s an additional cost in terms of interest. And that’s just the monetary cost of college.

On top of the high dollar amount it costs to get a degree, college also has high emotional and mental costs. Students spend a lot of their time doing homework and going to class, precariously balancing their various other life responsibilities with their school related commitments. While in college, extracurricular educational pursuits and hobbies take a back seat to class assignments. College often becomes an all-consuming life style choice motivated by the pursuit of financial rewards, rather than a meaningful scholarly journey to reach an intellectual goal.

But I’m going to start first by looking at the monetary cost of college. Before anything else, I want to say that there are a number of options (other than loans) that allow students to spend less money on a college degree. One less expensive way to earn a degree is to go to a community college (like Mid-Plains) before enrolling at a four-year college. The 2014/15 report mentioned above shows that community colleges charge an average of $3,347 per year in tuition, which is significantly less than the average tuition at a four-year university. By getting a two-year degree first, students can bypass one or two years of high priced tuition at a four-year university, meaning lower overall costs.

However, despite the fact that the average college in the U.S. charges high tuition rates, there are exceptions to the rule. In today’s day and age, students can go to school wherever they want by enrolling in a college far from home or even going to school online. There are a ton of options for earning a college degree in the United States. With some research, students looking for affordable degree programs can find colleges with cheaper tuition across the country, and online.

However, for the more adventurous types, there is a way to get a college education entirely for free. Many northern European countries, like Germany, Norway, and Finland offer free tuition to their college students, both international and domestic. A lot of universities require a small enrollment fee, but after that, college is free of charge. At the end of this article is a link to a website with some additional information on countries that offer free college tuition. And yes, quite a few of these free college degrees are taught entirely in English.

So ultimately, the high monetary cost of college can be solved with some research and resourcefulness, and a little bit of imagination. But how does one deal with the emotional cost of college?

Honestly, I think the answer is different for everyone. Different people do different things to ease emotional stress. For example, whenever I feel myself starting to freak out about an assignment, I listen to some music while I work to calm my thoughts down. If I have a lot of stress about an upcoming week, I go for a jog or take a relaxing bath to figure out what exactly is stressing me out, and then tackle the problem head on. These are just a few of the things that I do to cope with the emotional stress caused by going to college. Sometimes I need a break from an intense homework session, so I go fill my water bottle and spend a minute or two staring off into space. Or I take the time to set a schedule that factors in hobbies and fun activities to keep my life balanced.

For most people, college isn’t the only thing going on in their lives; they have commitments to family and friends, responsibilities at work, and relationships to tend to in their off-time. Having a life and getting a degree is often a delicate balancing act that can be tilted one way or another at any moment, resulting in some sort of stress or emotional chaos.

The costs of college, both emotional and financial, although difficult to deal with are opportunities for learning. College has given me the chance to explore stress and emotional chaos, and figure it out how to handle them for myself. The high monetary cost of college in the United States has opened up other possibilities that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of, like getting a college degree overseas or entirely online. Although I’ve learned a lot from my college classes, I’ve found so far that the real learning in college isn’t at all about book subjects; it’s about oneself.


Bridgestock, Laura. (1/30/2015) Top Universities. How Much Does it Cost to Study in the US? Retrieved on 11/18/2015 from:http://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/student-finance/how-much-does-it-cost-study-us

Lydian Shipp

Webzine Team Member

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