Today's society inculcates people with the notion that in order to succeed, you need to go to college and earn your degree. But with the cost of tuition rising while students graduate with burdensome student loan debt, many of whom are unable to find a job in such a weak market, is college worth the investment?
Chad Grills in his latest book, "College or Not?", writes a fictional story to argue that college isn't necessarily worth the investment. The protagonist of the story, Jay Pencha, represents the typical senior high school student facing the pressure of trying to get into a prestigious school while figuring out what he wants to do with his life.
Things look bleak for Jay during his senior year. His parents, particularly his dad, have always told him he needs to follow in his older brother Gavin's footsteps and go to the prestigious school known as P&C. Gavin has a successful job in finance, although Jay feels that something is wrong with his brother. Regardless, he has to live in Gavin's shadow while facing the fear of rejection from P&C as well as the possibility that his parents won't be able to pay for it.
Enter Gary Weinstein, Jay's nerdy, socially awkward (yet likable) best friend. After being completely off the grid for three months, Gary surprises Jay with the news that he will forgo going to college altogether. Instead, he has a job lined up at a tech startup called Livu. Gary eventually convinces Jay to consider the idea of not attending college by switching out of Mr. Pemberton's college prep class to the much-friendlier, likable Mr. Moore who opens Jay's mind- as well as the rest of his students' minds- that a job right after high school could be preferable.
The rest of the story then features Jay focusing on landing a job in a tech startup right out of college and trying to convince his parents that is the right path for him, even as they continue to compare him to Gavin, who is later revealed to be addicted to pills.
And like any good story, Grills throws in a subplot of Jay's romance with Ella, the pretty ex-girlfriend of a football player that any guy dreams of having. Jay and Ella's relationships builds and grows throughout the story and provides the reader with a feel-good romance aspect of the story.
Overall, Grills's story is a good read. It is refreshing to see a fictional story make a conservative point. When it comes to conservative policy, most writers will write nonfictional books laced with all of kinds of facts, figures and studies. While those types of books are very good and necessary, the average reader's eyes will glaze over at the numbers. An actual storyline that proves a point- here being that college isn't for everyone- is a more effective way to further advance the argument.
Grills's story provides a great way to open the mind to young readers deciding what to do with their lives that maybe they don't have to go to college. It certainly has an appealing argument given the cost of tuition and how hard it is to find a job in the current economy.