Higher education is not actually ‘free’

While in college, almost anything with the word “free” can send students running in that direction. When President Obama mentioned having free community college, many celebrated. But it’s only free if you are “willing to work for it.”

We all know how hard it is to keep your GPA high enough to stay afloat, juggle several part-time jobs at once just to pay for tuition and still have time for a social life to keep verbal skills in check.

Some students struggle to pay for college without borrowing any loans and others need financial stability from multiple jobs to pay for a full course load.

At first glance, free community college seems like a fantastic idea. We can now wipe our hands and say, “Well, the job is done. We made education more affordable.” Right? Wrong.

Georgia recently earned an average 77 percent for its “report card” for higher education, according to the Young Invincibles. Georgia failed in the areas of tuition spending per student placing the burden on families to pay for higher education.

While Georgia earned A’s in state aid provided to students and education as a state priority, the Young Invincible’s information shows funding has been on the decline.

Other states like Michigan and Oregon received grades in the measly 40s for its higher education. New Hampshire earned 17 percent.

If we offer community college for free, sure, some students won’t have to pay as much for higher education. But that leaves out the many students who want to go straight into four-year universities.

But those who have already racked up loans from a community college have moved to continue their four-year degree. The feeling of being “left out” can come to mind since the money spent will still need to be paid back even if they had qualified.

However, that’s not the only problem. Associate degrees are becoming obsolete. Nowadays it’s stressed that in order to get hired, you need a Bachelor’s degree.

Type in “Entry Level” into job search websites like Indeed.com and you’ll find that the majority of the results will likely require you to have some kind of Bachelor’s degree. In some cases that’s non-negoitable. No one asks for an Associate’s anymore.

President Obama didn’t finish making it possible for working students to obtain a college education without having to struggle. He only made the first step.

In this era our society perceives that without a Bachelor’s degree, obtaining a respectable job that carries financial stability is not in your future.

Children at a young age are pushed into job ideas that require higher education. Job titles like doctor, lawyer and scientist require formal forms of education which includes the notion of a “phat” paycheck. No one ever tells their kid: “Honey, I want you to become an electrician when you grow up.” Instead, we are duped into thinking that unless we attend a four-year institute, we are losers, bums or low-lives.

The value of an Associate’s is already diminishing. Instead of making a four-year degree attainable, Obama’s plan to make community college free will decrease the value of a two-year degree even further.

And perhaps that just means our government is finally catching up to the attitudes of our society: that we don’t value Associate’s anymore.

The government now has to follow the classic law of supply and demand. But we shouldn’t be looking at these actions through rose-colored glasses. We’ve only made the first step; this deserves a quick pat on the back. But let’s move on to the bigger issue: that obtaining a four-year degree is still incredibly burdensome to our wallet and our well-being.

And after the studying, classes and all-nighters have ended, we sometimes gain a high-paying job, only having our government knock on our doors six months later, hands out and ready to collect.
The fun is over and welcome to the real world.