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What are the Costs of Not Finishing College

Ana-Marcela Lopez

Critiques of higher education have become more widespread than ever before. As new scandals emerge, student loan debt rises, and job scarcity ebbs and flows, people are frequently questioning the sanctity of a college degree. Is it really worth it? Do I really need a college degree to be successful? The answer is complex; it depends on who you are, but chances are that if you started and never finished, there was something that drew you in the first place. Think about the personal and professional goals that prompted you to enroll. If those haven’t changed, they might be better achieved with a college degree. Going back to school can be an intimidating endeavor, but the costs of not finishing college can be an even greater burden to bear.

One of the biggest costs of not finishing your college degree is lower earning potential. A college degree has, for the most part, remained a valuable tool to enter a well-paying career. While money may not be a motivation for all, it is certainly not to be ignored. According to an issue paper published by the Lumina Foundation, individuals with a bachelor’s degree make about 134% more than high school graduates with some college experience. This trend means that individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree are less likely to fall under the poverty line and enjoy higher overall lifetime earnings. 

Pervasive criticisms claim that the burden of student loans outweighs the benefits of a college degree. Student loan debt is at an all time high, and students are right to be wary of incurring debt. However, it’s not just about money! Many critics fail to account for other benefits to having a college degree:

Health Insurance

One of the most valuable forms of compensation is employer-provided health insurance. On average, 76% of individuals with a bachelor’s degree receive health insurance through employment, whereas only 61% of those with some college receive that benefit. With your employer essentially footing the bill for your health insurance, more of your paycheck can be used for other necessities (like paying back those student loans). 

Social Mobility

The job market is changing rapidly, and workers are changing jobs more frequently than ever before. As a result, it is becoming increasingly important that workers are equipped with transferable skills and experiences. A high-quality undergraduate education provides more than just technical skills; it equips students with the ability to think critically and communicate effectively. Such skills are necessary to adapt to such a volatile marketplace. 

Networking Opportunities 

The pace at which individuals are changing careers has reinforced the importance of connections. The old adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” applies to more than it probably should, but still rings true when it comes to starting a career. Of course, a college education falls within the camp of “what you know” and should not be underestimated, but your time on campus can also expose you to people and experiences that will shape your future in unexpected ways. The classmate in your international marketing class could be your next business partner. Your professors could connect you to job and internship opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

Going back to school is a tough decision to make, but the benefits often outweigh the drawbacks. It’s frustrating enough to have loans to pay back for a degree you don’t even have—consider all that such an accomplishment could get you! Without a college degree, you don’t have the earning potential to pay off your debt quicker, and you could also miss out on some supplemental benefits such as health insurance, career mobility, and networking opportunities. 

Here at Abound, we understand that finishing a college degree is no walk in the park. It takes as much time as it does money, but in the long run, a college degree can open doors to opportunities that would otherwise be difficult to obtain. 

We’re here to help. Abound: Finish College narrows down your options and gets you in touch with schools that we can confirm are Accessible, Affordable, Accelerated, and Advanced. Take a look at the schools we trust and find the program that works for you.

More Helpful Resources:

Where to Get Grants Instead of Loans as a Non-Traditional Student

Should I Finish College?

I Have Years of Experience, but No Degree. Is That Enough to Get Hired? – Answers from HR Professionals

How I’m Overcoming Life’s Obstacles and Earning my Degree

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