Overselling the College Degree
I distrust the student loan industry and the higher-ed bureaucrats who exploit it relentlessly. Motivated by economic self-interest, student lenders and college officials have persuaded misguided politicians that “college for all” is a noble goal. It absolutely is not.
Here is an interesting statistic: Fifty years ago only 48% of high school graduates went to college. In 2009, that percentage reached an all time high of 70%. This does not mean that they are graduating. It just means that they are attending for a while, having some fun, and borrowing in the process. A smaller percentage actually finish.
A recent article from the New York Magazine covers the issue very nicely. If you still have pre-college age kids, you must read it and think about it. I like this quote as a teaser:
American colleges have transformed from rigorous scholarly communities into corporate-minded youth resorts, where some presidents command salaries of more than $1 million and competition centers on outdoing one another in acquiring high-end amenities (duplex-apartment dormitories, $70 million gyms).
The article and the resources it cites makes the case that U.S. colleges are under-performing and overcharging. A double Amen from Mr. ToughMoneyLove.
Yes I know about the statistics demonstrating the different lifetime earnings between those who have a college degree and those who do not. But those statistics are only correlations. I submit that the earnings differences in most cases can be attributed to the motivational and energy levels of the students, not to the degrees conferred.
When I tell you that our youngest son last week graduated from college, you may call me a hypocrite. Here is my defense: (1) He graduated with no student loan debt ;and (2) He used his college experience to focus on a career path. I will add that one of our older sons started but has not finished college. It will not bother me if he never goes back. When he first left, I felt differently. However, he has since developed unique skills that cannot be acquired in any college. He is now marketing those skills in his own small business. That’s what I want for him and for each of our sons: Skills that are valued and ownership of their own business based on those skills.
Here is a link to the must-read article: How the Notion That a College Degree Is Essentially Worthless Has Become One of the Year’s Most Fashionable Ideas