Nathan Reich, Staff Writer

In our day and age, a college degree has gone from being a convenience, something that a select few elite workers have, to a necessity, on the level that high school degrees were in the past.

With a college education currently being essential to the future success and achievement for young workers (working outside of a trade or other manual labor), going into and finishing college as soon as possible is becoming the cornerstone on which society’s definition of success is built.

College, I will admit, is not for everyone. In a society where everyone has the same learning and job preparation, many areas would sadly fall short, leaving gaping holes in the society’s economy. This to say, trade jobs (plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, and carpenters fall into this category) and other manual labor (construction, agriculture, and janitorial jobs, for example) are indispensable to today’s society, and should not be forgotten.

Even if college is not for everyone, nearly 65% of all U.S. jobs require a college education (associate’s or bachelor’s degree), according to Georgetown University. While non degree-requiring jobs are vitally important to the economy, jobs that do require a college education are at least as necessary, if not more so. With degrees carrying that much weight in our society today, it follows that a majority of students should go into college. By extension, it makes sense that those going into college should do so as soon as possible. If a large group of students refrain from entering university immediately or soon after high school, there will be a corresponding gap in the employment and, as a result, in the economy of the society.

As so much of today’s economy is dependent on degrees, both college and beyond, it would follow that the majority of plans for successful future U.S. citizens should include, at least to some extent, a college education of some kind. As the workforce is becoming more and more reliant upon degrees, we need to focus more on college education.

Of course, the main problem with acquiring a college degree, as many of us high school seniors are finding, is the cost. This is absolutely a valid reason for forgoing one’s college education. As a result, it is necessary for our society to rethink college as an entity, and to either lower the costs of a college education or to lessen the importance and emphasis placed on college degrees in employment.

I acknowledge, this is a lofty goal, but something needs to change. High school students cannot pay the extravagant costs required, yet they are required to get a degree in order to be able to keep up with the cost of living. This paradox, is an issue often overlooked, but it must not be overlooked anymore. Instead of disagreeing about whether college is important or not, or even whether students should start college right away or not, we need to be working towards this ultimate goal: affordable education. As college becomes more important, it grows more expensive. The cost of college must not outweigh its benefits.