On July 15, Matthew Gagnon published a column entitled “ They lied to you about college.” While some might consider this old news, the cost of college certainly is not, and I felt compelled to voice an opinion. This article acts as a stimulus for the following words.

Along with the rising cost of college, there is a rising cost to not attending college. In 2011, a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce study made media rounds after finding lifetime earnings of baccalaureate degree holders to be 84 percent greater than those without, up from a college premium of 75 percent in 1999. Last year, Pew Research noted that those whose education stopped at high school have actually lost average earnings by more than $3,000, from $31,384 in 1965 to $28,000 in 2013 when adjusted for inflation.

Statistics such as these are not misguided support for higher education. They are to be taken seriously by economists and parents alike. They indicate the importance of proper skill development, and trends suggest this importance is growing. While the cost of college has increased, so has the earnings gap between the college-educated and those less educated.

Of course, the picture is not so clear as to direct all along this route. College graduates’ earnings have fallen 7.7 percent since 2000, according to statistics featured in the most recent Atlantic, previously published by the Economic Policy Institute. Additionally, we have more students graduating from college than ever before (with 34 percent of millennials in possession of at least a bachelor’s degree, according to aforementioned Pew Research). Therefore, even with post-secondary degree(s), competition can complicate a young adult’s job search, particularly depending on the field of study chosen. College, then, is increasingly significant to earnings potential, yet still not the direction for all.

Gagnon mentioned the Thiel Fellowship as an alternative to college. This fellowship is certainly a laudable alternative, but it applies only to a select group of super-developed youth, and it does not serve as an alternative to those who most require one. Similarly, online education alternatives, or MOOCs, have thus far proven least effective for those most in need. If anything is indicated by the rising cost of college, economically and implicitly, it is need for alternatives.

Alternatives can present themselves as intra-market competition, of which Gagnon noted a pronounced dearth, or extra-market options, which, at least for now, have taken shape almost exclusively in the form of community colleges.

Perhaps if we developed a public secondary curriculum that includes basic personal finance and professional development, we would not only have a more equitable spread of opportunity but a student body capable of making an informed decision on continuing their education. Certainly colleges aren’t the only academic body failing students.

It seems to me that, while it can be made to stand alone as an issue, the cost of college is symptomatic. Our education system is falling behind, though not alone. In this context I would also remark that we are losing our middle class, that wages for many are not keeping up with cost of living, and, consequently, that opportunity for a large swath of the population is being compromised.

I don’t claim to have a solution to these problems, but I assume such a solution will come from someone of a substantial education, weather debate with other intellectuals, and require the knowing support of many skilled and capable Americans to succeed.

The cost of college and the education of American youth are complex issues demanding much timely attention. We should not relish in anticipation of the college bubble bursting. The futures of students and young professionals are our futures, and these people are, in fact, exactly that: people. I beg readers to meet nothing-but-exclamatory editorials on this issue with appropriately interrogative derision. When you see pieces such as the Lee Siegel piece “ Why I Defaulted on My Student Loans” published in June in The New York Times, I recommend a deeper read.

We can’t afford to follow the loudest voice. There is more serious thinking to be done.

Michael Brodek of Dixmont is a recent college graduate and Bangor-area native passionate about writing and education reform.