College is more than a degree


Robin Bridges

This chart shows tuition data for NEIU in-state and out of state students.

Dominique Davis

Despite the challenges on the road through college and university, it is worth the experience beyond just getting a degree. Human survival has always depended on the education of future generations. As we evolved as a species, so has our curiosity to better understand our environment and its inner workings.

During these primitive years, humans taught themselves by trial and error–it either worked or it didn’t. The ways we educate ourselves has vastly changed over the centuries, along with our needs and social structures.

We have become accustomed to the benefits of a formal education and praise scholars around the world. Usually with recognition and awards as well as money or social status.

These famous scholars like Noam Chomsky, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Dikran Tahta and Stephen Hawking have mastered the educational system. To their advantage, they were often guided or encouraged from a young age to succeed to their highest academic potential by being present at the top public and private colleges or universities and often receiving full tuition scholarships for it.  

Additionally, U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Illinois State Senator Iris Martinez, Musician Art Porter Jr., and Illinois General Assembly Representative Karen Yarbrough are just a few notable graduates, from Northeastern Illinois University. These alums completed their degree programs despite facing many tough challenges.

However, attending a college or university is no easy task for any students to face. Even after graduation we are judged socially, financially and politically based on the “quality” and level of our university. According to an article on, the top issues college students face are: time management, debt and being homesick.

These are just some of the many issues that students are facing today while attending institutions of higher learning, all in the hopes of securing employment with a comfortable salary. So, is this whole experience they call “college” really worth all the stress and hard work? In my own opinion, yes.

The rigorous curriculum and increased expectations can cause major stress and time management issues for many students, even more so for those who also maintain a job to support themselves or have family obligations.

The immediate need for survival often outweighs the future benefits of formal education. Many of the highest paid and remarkable scholars from around the world, attended classes for many years before receiving recognition for their contributions to their fields.

The rising tuition in addition to the costs of living as a student causes many students to drop out and not complete their degree. As reported by U.S News in 2015,  the in-state tuition and fees at public research universities has grown by “a staggering 296 percent.” Students unable to manage their increasing debt can be forced to drop out of school or finish their degree out-of-pocket and at a much slower pace.

Another problem that causes students to drop out is when they become severely homesick. This can lead the student into depression or just unnecessary stress that causes other health problems down the road.

While college may not be for everyone, universities provide amazing opportunities for networking. Networking is one of the keys in establishing successful professional relationships.These relationships can become significant in finding and receiving paid internships, possibly securing a permanent position within the company of your dreams.

I obtained new knowledge and understanding academically. More important than that has been establishing my womanhood during my college journey. The difference between high school and college is more than just the materials covered.

College is an important rite of passage for young adults getting ready to join the workforce and gain their total independence. I attended a university out-of-state and was completely on my own, away from the comforts of home. Only during this time was I able to fully examine myself as a whole individual regardless of my previous circumstances and experiences.

It is also about becoming an independent and responsible citizen ready to join and contribute to society. I have learned how to organize and manage my finances, set career goals and maintain overall health goals.

Having to move out the dorms and survive being homeless for 6 months, not eating for days at a time and unable to secure transportation to work or school took a toll on the completion of my degree.

For me, it was much more important to learn the skills on maintaining a balanced, stable life that you’re also able to enjoy while reaching your intended goals. The spiritual, physical, intellectual and social changes are both essential and priceless. In spite of my financial and physical obstacles, I value the experience I have gained above all other benefits or issues.


Correction: In the previous version of this article published on July 25, 2017 the chart labels were reversed. This has been corrected to reflect more accurate data.