Just What Are You Paying for with That College Degree?

14 May

There is a big debate ensuing these days over how we can best educate American youth so they are prepared for 21st Century work.  The author of this article argues that university level education is not the solution to everything.  In fact, he says it is, in many cases, an enormous waste of time, money and resources. I absolutely agree.

I was a very lucky young man to have had parents who valued education and were willing to pay for my college degree. Yes, I did work and helped with costs a little. But they paid my tuition and books and rent.  I was responsible for my expenses above that.

But 20 years ago, had I had no parental assistance, a degree from a state school wouldn’t have put me $100,000 or more in debt. This is an awful way to begin adulthood. Having such burdensome debt is even more ridiculous when you consider how long it will take to pay it off with the type of careers available to folks with unfocused degrees.

I look back now and wonder how my counselors could have advised me with a straight face that a French Degree would amount to anything professionally.  Aside from teaching or work in the State Department there isn’t much one can do with such a degree.  So, I made my own career.

Certainly, four years of college were enjoyable, educational and I learned quite a lot.  But at today’s prices, I argue that perhaps there is too much emphasis on obtaining a degree and not enough on what you’re paying to obtain said degree. There is very little attention being paid to what the result will be once you’ve earned that piece of paper. Can you think of anything else you’d pay $100,000 or more to obtain with such little forethought as to exactly why?

I realize I’m in a minority with this mindset. And please do not confuse my questioning the value of a college degree with how importantly I value education. They are different. Education is priceless. A college degree is over-priced.  Today, unless your college degree is quite specific and leads to a career that is very well-paid, I’d say that you may not be getting your money’s worth.

What we need for America to continue to be the country it is economically, is well-educated, creative and critically thinking, young people who understand the value of hard-work and that no success is born overnight. I argue that our colleges are not doing a good enough job at producing this sort of young adult. At least not enough of them, especially for the prices being paid.

Americans need to demand more for their money when it comes to all levels of education.



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