Students who are thinking about applying to college should think long and hard if the effort is worth their while, and if their choice is a practical one. Universities will try to attract them with colorful promises of gainful employment once they have earned their degree but the real world isn't as simple as they make it out to be.
Having theoretical knowledge is worlds apart from being able to apply it. It is experience that truly counts when it comes to job performance. Being in the possession of a diploma, fancy as it is, is not a guarantee that one will do good in a particular field. It is merely an expensive piece of paper saying that a course was studied and nothing more. It cannot predict the future.
San Jose Mercury News ran a headline recently about how roughly 50% of new graduates find themselves either unemployed or underemployed. There is a sense of irony here as the article itself was a reprint from Associated Press. The local newspaper has cut its staff due to dwindling budget and falling profits.
The article said that the fragile economy has resulted in various difficulties for aspiring entrants to the labor force. Few positions are available for them in their chosen industries leaving them no choice but to take jobs that underutilize their skill set and provide them with very little income. This situation reduces their capacity to pay off their student loans so they remain hopelessly in debt.
Going to a fancy university and spending lots of money on education is no guarantee that you will have the necessary knowledge and skills to impress an employer. It does provide a good foundation for everything else and an educated person can be trained much more readily than one who isn't. However, even the best student still needs to gain a lot of experience in order to be of much use for the company's daily operations. Most of the fresh grads don't have this and so they are not valued so much by the employers as can be gleaned from the low wages on offer.
Since the prospect of repaying student loans is bleak, perhaps a change of mindset is in order. Financial decisions must be reconsidered and their sensibility questioned in light of harsh realities. One cannot charge ahead knowing that it would disastrous to do so. If a person cannot make sensible financial decisions for himself, then it would be difficult to trust him to make financial decisions in behalf of a company which is a much more complex undertaking. A CEO that reasons poorly cannot generate the required profits to keep shareholders happy and will eventually be removed from the post.
Applying college may well be the ticket to a better future but proceed with caution. Consider if the expense is worth it and take a more pragmatic stance. Perhaps getting into a well-known school is not as important as it is hyped up to be, and maybe getting industry experience is more beneficial.