Your parents and teachers have been singing the praises of a college education from the day you spelled "CAT" with a set of alphabet blocks. You've heard it a thousand times. College is the path to a fulfilling, well-paying career; college is the greatest time of your life!
Or is it?
It might depend who's footing the bill. The average cost of a single year at a four-year private American college in 2010 to 2011 was $32,617 [source: National Center for Education Statistics]. To cover that kind of tuition, two-thirds of U.S. college students take out loans. The average student loan debt for the class of 2011 was $26,600, the highest on record [source: Ellis].
True, workers with college degrees can make considerably more over the course of their careers than those with only a high-school diploma. But what if you drop out of college before you get your degree? According to a 2013 report funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 46 percent of college students (and 63 percent of African-American students) don't graduate within six years [source: Resmovits]. Now you're in debt with no degree to help pay it off.
Even if you get a degree, your choice of major may leave you unemployable in a tight job market. For instance, in 2010, anthropology and archeology majors had a 10.5 percent unemployment rate on average and a starting salary of $28,000. A film major earned $30,000 and experienced a 12.9 percent unemployment rate [source: Goudreau].