Why college is still worth it

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So does college raise incomes? Is it an investment good enough to make widely accessible?

Yes, it is. Period. Usually, this would be the part of the article where I note that there’s disagreement and perhaps a slight weighting of evidence to one side or the other. I won’t. Even McArdle and other college skeptics acknowledge that the average college graduate today will make far more over the course of his or her life than the average high-school graduate who doesn’t attend college. And the bulk of the information indicates that college really is the cause. Going to college means you make more money than you otherwise would, and that benefit far, far outstrips its upfront price.   ~Dylan Matthews

Read more:  The Tuition is Too Damn High, Part II: Why College is Still Worth It

Just Say No to Saying No

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When I read yet another article minimizing the value of a college education I am challenged by thoughts of privilege.  Yes, Steve Jobs, an individual I greatly admire, was a college dropout, but at least he had the opportunity to give it a try. Mark Zuckerberg’s intelligence and initiative is without question, but how many students can realistically include Harvard on their college wish list? And then walk away from the opportunity?

I do not discount hard work, enterprise, and determination. But for those of us who are simply above-average, or first-generation, or of a marginalized population, college is the pathway to get a step ahead, a leg up, a move toward potential success. Yes, student loan debt and college costs demand answers, but denying the value of learning, but for an elite few, is not the answer. Just say Go. Go to college.

Choose Education

The only thing that’s more expensive than going to college is not going to college, so you really don’t have a choice. ~Anthony Carnevale

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce released a study saying what those of us in higher education have been saying all along–your college education is a worthy investment.  You can listen to or read about it at this interview on NPR.

Try these statistics on for size:

The unemployment rate for all four-year college graduates is 4.5 percent, but the unemployment rate for recent four-year college graduates is more than 50 percent higher at 6.8 percent. At the same time, unemployment rates for recent high school graduates are near 24 percent.  ~Carnevale, Jayasundera and Cheah

Take that, Peter Thiel.

Senior citizens and student loan debt

Great article from Washington Post financial report Ylan Q. Mui on the burden of student loan debt for Americans 60 and older.

…Americans 60 and older still owe about $36 billion in student loans, providing a rare window into the dynamics of student debt. More than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. As a result, consumer advocates say, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished or for debt collectors to harass borrowers in their 80s over student loans that are decades old.  ~Ylan Q. Mui

Record number of U.S. adults with college degrees

The Census Bureau announced that three in ten adults held a bachelor’s degree in 2011.  This is quite a jump considering that as recently as 1998 less than 25% of adults had a four-year degree. Regretfully, our global ranking for college degrees is still dropping. Despite continuing arguments about the value of certain degrees, it makes you think this whole college education thing may be catching on.

…the data suggest that going to school remains a shrewd investment. Median monthly pay for a professional degree reached $11,927 in 2009. That was more than twice the monthly pay for someone with a bachelor’s degree: $5,445. By contrast, a high school diploma was worth $3,179 a month, and an elementary school education yielded $2,136 a month.  ~Daniel de Vise, Washington Post

More on the value of a college education…

Future Earnings

Is College Worth It?

Is College Worth It?

I have written before about how challenging I find suggestions that college has no value. When research suggests that learning or critical thinking is not occurring on the college campus, I know that I see otherwise at my university, with my students. Does the academe have work to do? You bet. But creating a society of education privilege where only certain individuals are encouraged to pursue a degree is not an answer.

This Chronicle editorial suggests we are already creating that privilege by pricing a large portion of the population out of the higher education pool.

…going to college is worth it, but going to any college at any price may no longer be worth it. ~Jeff Selingo

But for another viewpoint here is an interesting debate of whether too many students are attending college. It highlights the argument that increased access to higher education has little influence on economic growth. And although I find this argument insulting to education and our students, it is worthy for discussion. Who decides who attends college?

To ask whether too many people are going to college begs another question: If too many people are going to college, then who are these people?  How should we as a society ration a more restricted level of educational opportunity?  ~Peter Sacks

Consider the students in your office today. Which ones could you single out as not being eligible for higher education?

Debt Zapper

Student loan debt has surpassed total credit card debt in the United States, reaching more than $1 trillion this year. That’s trillion with twelve zeroes. Student debt is a recurring topic here, so these 10 Tips for Zapping Student Loan Debt may be worth a look.

More on the student debt challenge:

Presidential Agenda

Student Debt: No new car, caviar, four star daydream

Student Debt continued: Still no caviar

Student loans of interest

It’s not only a national debt crisis

Money, money, money… Must be funny…