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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is A College Degree Still Worth It?

When you take into account the struggling economy. the skyrocketing cost of a college education, and the rising student debt burden, many folks are questioning whether or not pursuing a college education still worth it?

According to a Pew Research Center study 57% of Americans say the higher education system fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend.  The first question that pops into my mind is, “How do those parents define value?”

The study also states that 94% of the parents expect their child to attend college. Why the myopic path of college only?  College is definitely not for everyone. Have these parents not considered vocational schools? Last time I checked, plumbers, electricians, welders and auto mechanics were doing okay in the working world.

Another curious tidbit is that 58% of college presidents say that public high school students arrive at college less well prepared than their counterparts of a decade ago.  If this is true, then I guess the value of a high school education isn’t holding up so well either.

According to an article in USA Today back on September 10, 2010 Total student loan debt exceeds total credit card debt in this country. Students currently owe  $850 billion outstanding, while consumers owe about $828 billion in revolving credit. By year's end, student loan debt is predicted to surpass the trillion dollar mark. Ouch!

I know what you’re thinking. I’ll just file for bankruptcy if things get to rough. Right? Uh, maybe not. Student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy unless the debtor can prove that paying them back would cause undue hardship.

President Barack Obama is clear about his position on the value of  a college education.
He is committed to ensuring that America will regain its lost ground and have the highest proportion of students graduating from college in the world by 2020.

That’s great news for colleges and universities but once we have all those college educated citizens, “What are we going to do with them?”  Is there a corresponding goal of business creation? How does a population full of graduates translate into jobs? Maybe we should focus on entrepreneurship instead of chasing sheepskins. I wonder.

At this rate, it’s not too far fetched to imagine a world where the guy making your pizza  is freshly minted PhD  from Harvard.  Okay that may be a bit of an exaggeration but…

What are your thoughts on the matter?

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