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Is College Worth it?

As hundreds of thousands of fresh faced high school grads launch their credit-card-driven assaults on Target & Walmart positions the nation over, are parents and students spending more time debating mini-fridges than the very education they’re aiming to get?

ABC’s 20/20 broaches the subject in the video above. I’m certain there are a number of college grads who feel as though, perhaps, they paid a bit too much for their educations. But hey – what are you going to do, right? “We had to go! It cost what it cost!”

I remember sitting on a porch one evening about ten years ago speaking with a friend’s beau who claimed that:

“College has absolutely no value whatsoever.For anyone. Seriously. No one should go.”

In only his early 20’s, this guy was knocking on the door of six figures, with only a high school diploma to speak of. Well, that and a truckload of charisma and confidence – but they don’t have pieces of paper for those sorts of things.

As I was presently enrolled in school, I rebuked his claim as a bridge too far. Certainly there had to be some redeeming value I was getting for my hard earned money!? I’d read Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and was now well versed in the ancient Japanese practice of “foot binding” but did that make me any more employable? Better yet, would it help me break through the phalanx that is a modern day HR department to even get myself in front of someone for an interview? When everyone has a degree, does anyone have a degree?

I guess the pertinent question here is “what makes people successful?” Is a college education, where students learn to work hard, study, prepare for large projects, etc… the best indicator of future success? Or, as the guy in the video asserts, would those top high school students have been successful no matter? Isn’t it their innate drive, passion, and personality that serve as the better markers for a stellar career?

I never did get my 4 year degree. I was putting myself through school full time and wound up finding out that I was really good at property management and sales. It also helped that I was making double what I would have, had I finished with a journalism degree (my chosen course of study) and all without taking out a ton of additional loans. Not that I could have found a job at the time anyway (broadband internet wasn’t exactly the best thing to happen to newspapers) but I digress…

Something doesn't add up...

I’m in the wrong business! Clearly opening a college is where it’s at!

Undoubtedly, a college education is valuable. How much so remains the real question and one that only parents and students can answer for themselves. Live it up at an out of state school? On campus or off? Attend a local college or take mostly internet courses? What you choose to spend is entirely up to you. Just make sure you’re honest about what it’s worth to you and what you think it’s worth to the market place.

If you did graduate and are now enjoying the process that is paying off student loans, let me know your thoughts! Worth it overall? Would you do it over, and if so, would you change anything?

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  1. April 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    College isn’t just about job training or earning a high salary; I think that in general, graduates tend to be more productive, have more developed critical thinking skills and tend to be more involved with their communities.

    • April 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      I agree with your statements – College isn’t just about job training or salary expectations – but tell that to recent grads. I’ve spoken to hundreds of graduating college students over the past few years and the overwhelming majority shared feelings of disappointment with the price paid for their education vs. what their job prospects turned out to be.
      Sure, many of these people chose expensive degree programs in fields with little real-world demand (any English/History majors out there?) and they should have had clear expectations going in.
      While they’re certainly more well read and thus more capable at cocktail parties, they paid a mighty price for an education that could have been secured in a Barnes-&-Noble cafe over the same time frame.

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