Justin Lalputan, Staff Writer

I sat down on Saturday night with my father the week before spring semester and we weighed our options for sending me back to college. My total bill came up to $8,012, not including books. We looked at our bank accounts and decided that the best option would be to take out a loan, and my father jokingly told me, “You better get a good job and pay this back.”

I laughed, but his words echoed in my head, and they haven’t left yet, because, honestly, there is no guarantee that I will be able to pay off this loan anytime soon.

Let’s say that each semester I borrow $8,000. I’m a freshman, so by the time I’m finished with my senior year, I will be $56,000 in debt, not including interest. Then I have to get a job and start paying off the mountain of debt in front of me, while handling bills and other everyday necessities.

This is a pretty extreme example – obviously I can work off some of my debt while I’m in college, but unless I win the lottery, I’m going to be faced with a large amount of debt in an economy that’s just starting to recover from an economic recession.

Some of my friends have asked me why I even bother going to college. I can start out debt free and work, while living for free in my parent’s house. Why not just take the education that I have now and work my way up from the bottom – my father did it, so why shouldn’t I? My response is simple: this isn’t the world that my father grew up in.

Nowadays, it’s harder to succeed, and I won’t be able to achieve the standard of life that I want unless I go to college; however, I do agree that there is a measure of risk involved.

It’s been proven time and time again that even college graduates are finding it hard to acquire jobs. MSNBC and CNN both acknowledge the fact that many college graduates simply can’t find job offers after they graduate.

Matt Dumont, who graduated from Abilene Christian University with an English degree, said, “I’ve had a couple times that I was told that I was one of the top applicants, went in for an interview and then I just never heard back from them.”

Applications to the Peace Corps have gone up 16 percent since 2008, and applications to the AmeriCorps, The Peace Corps’ domestic counterpart, have tripled, with the majority of applicants being recent college graduates.

Gary Beaulieu, director of internship and career services at Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind. said that, “students are looking for something to do, kind of delaying the entrance into the workforce.”

However, despite all this information that suggests that college may not be the most secure investment, I’m still willing to take out the loans and go into debt. I firmly believe that the economy is going to turn around and when it does, it will be easier for me to get a job.

Also, while it is true that I might not get a job, I have enough confidence in myself and my abilities that even if I don’t get my dream job right away, I have what it takes to survive until I do.

So is college a risky investment? Yes. Without a doubt, college is probably the riskiest financial venture that I will undertake in the next 15 years, but the benefits are simply too good to not take the risk. And besides, some people will spend just as much, maybe even more, when they’re not going to college and get less than I will in return.

So the only thing for me to do is work hard and start climbing the mountain of debt in front of me.