Raising the drawbridge to a middle-class life

College is getting less worth it, as a degree no longer guarantees a certain lifestyle.

As I walk through the campus of the University of Minnesota, I canâÄôt help but notice how crowded and large the college is. I pass hundreds and hundreds of people daily, and there are new faces every time. If there is anywhere in the world where you feel like a number, it is at the University.

As I look around, I ask, how am I going to compete with this many people? Because thatâÄôs what it really boils down to. Many of my peers were told, âÄúGo to college and get your degree.âÄù As a young kid, I just figured I would go with the flow âÄî everyone else was doing it.

I now regret my decision. Working two jobs on top of a full semester load of school and trying to squeeze in a personal life doesnâÄôt really cut it, and IâÄôm not the only one in this situation.

Why is it that older generations never seemed to have this much stress and didnâÄôt have to work so hard just to have a chance to one day sustain a comfortable life? If you graduated high school you would pretty much have it made: a job, nice car, nice house, a couple of kids, all the nice things you want and enough for retirement. These days it seems like you need a masterâÄôs degree just to rent âÄî not own âÄî a one-bedroom apartment and a beater car. That is, if you can pay off your student loan debt.

If the hurdles to a middle-class lifestyle continue to get higher and the work place in America continues to get more competitive, I canâÄôt even imagine what the generations ahead of us will have to endure. I, along with many others, am now at âÄúthe point of no returnâÄù âÄî I have invested too much into college now to turn back.

This is not about good or bad decisions, or about trying to get anyone to feel bad for me; itâÄôs about making accessible the decent and satisfying life that we all dream of having. ItâÄôs about having the freedom and liberty to live decently if youâÄôre willing to work for it. The system where students must work long hours on top of going to school full time only to graduate with suffocating debt and no job prospects is pushing that dream out of reach.