One of the things that many high school students do not know about their day to day lives is why the government is spending massive amounts of money on their education. Many young people will not have thought about it too much, especially since going to school is free for them, as it was for their parents, at least at the point of contact. Others will consider it a waste of money since they do not like going to school. However, the more idealistic students might think that the benevolence of the US government (which spends about $620 billion on public elementary and secondary schools each year) is motivated by humanist ideals such as the intrinsic value of an education and the beauty of knowledge and learning. However, the reality is that the government is spending so much money because it will soon rely upon the current high school generation to graduate, take up work and start paying their taxes. Without a literate, competent workforce, the US economy will completely fall apart. While learning about the wonders of science and universal truths of maths are intrinsically beautiful in themselves, this is just a happy byproduct of what is effectively a financial decision.
Some people may think that it is not worth worrying about because it is a fait accompli. Attendance at school is mandated by law. Whether they want to or not, they have to go. However, their legal obligation ends when they’re 16 (depending on the state). The decisions a young person makes after that are their own. To continue, they will have to pay for it. They have to ask the same question that the government does: is it worth it? The cost of studying at university varies depending on whether you go to a school in your state and whether it is private or not, but the average cost per year is about $33215. To go to an Ivy League school, you can expect to pay upwards of $60000. These costs are immense which is why many students are now considering the slightly cheaper option of studying remotely using the internet (like at Maryville University Online, for instance). If you look at the situation from a financial perspective, while it is an expensive investment it seems to be a good one, with graduates earning on average $48500 each year with non-graduates earning just $23900. Lower levels of education also tend to correspond with higher levels of unemployment. Over the course of a lifetime, a degree seems to pay for itself several times over.
However, not every decision in life should be motivated by money. There are lots of other reasons that going to university is a great choice. Young people, especially those who move away from home, will learn to be independent, to manage their finances responsibly and to run their own household. They will also likely meet friends that they’ll have for the rest of their lives and learn things that will inflame their imaginations and inform their character.
Going to university will always be an expensive choice but one that is certainly worth the money.