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Poison or Prestige: Ivy League

By Fiona O'Reilly

With the excitement for the future comes an important responsibility: choosing where and how the soon-to-be high school graduates will spend their upcoming four years. The majority of NHP’s seniors have made their decisions about college, or at least have narrowed their long lists down to just a few choices. Selecting a major, considering the optimal location and assessing the distance away from home are all characteristics that students consider when making the final decision. However, the taboo of college decisions, that is undeniably considered by not only many students here at NHP but also the vast majority of students in the United States, is the financial burden one is willing to take on relative to the level of education for which they are striving.

Although I am not a senior currently going through the college process, the inevitable doom of the rigorous college process is approaching and definitely floats around my mind on occasion. In just a year and a half, I’ll be, hopefully, in a new state with people I’ve never met before, taking on challenges and living a life completely different from what I have been used to in New Hyde Park. Yet, at what cost? According to recent studies, $35,551 per year. This is the average cost of yearly college tuition in the United States, inclusive of data from public in-state universities, which are typically far cheaper than private universities. As of 2021, about 45 million Americans were in student loan debt, which is about 13% of the United States population.

Source by Guneet Hanjra

With rising tuition rates, students increasingly consider the cost-benefit of investing in their future when planning for higher education.

A big factor that I consider during the search of colleges is what it is exactly that this cost is paying for. Am I considering schools strictly based on the caliber of degree that I can attain there? At this point in the process, I am unaware of what it is that I want to study, and I lack a clear projection of how I see my future. This opens up a new layer of consideration as to what I want from a college experience. For students who have a clear vision of what they want to study and pursue in life, the search for a prestigious program is something I can understand regardless of the price tag. On the other hand, this is not the case for most students. At the young ages of just 17 and 18, students feel the pressure of society to make life-changing decisions that carry a financial burden, and if they fail to make the right choice, many feel that they will suffer because of it in the future.

In no way do I believe that college is unimportant; rather, I feel that access to a high level of education is one of the greatest privileges a person could attain. Taking education to the next level, having career goals and wanting to be a more educated person are all qualities that I value, and qualities that I believe should be valued with such prestige in society, as they already are. Yet, I still do question, what is the limit to this desire? In my personal experience, I have seen both ends of the spectrum: people who wish they’d spent the extra money at a university and people who wish they hadn’t.

As I watch my senior friends and peers make their final decisions about college, the issue becomes more and more present in my mind. The overall takeaway for me is that no matter the level of prestige of the education that I might have the opportunity to pursue, I will still get to experience some of the best memories with new people in a new environment. The price tag is not a cost of the experience, but rather a cost for the name-brand school on a resume.


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