Thursday, January 24, 2013

Despite Tough Times, College Degrees Are Very Much Worth The Effort

Times are tough and student loans are at all time highs. In addition, jobs are hard to come by as well, and pay is pretty much stagnant for those who do have jobs.

And when it comes to self deception, which is aided and abetted greatly by officials in high schools and colleges, as well as by families and friends, many if not most of those persons entering college are world class "self deceivers" about their prospects for graduating, either "on time" or even at all.

Consider the following --- 80% of those entering college believe they will graduate in 4 years. In fact, only one half of those 80% or 40% of those students will graduate in 4 years. And only 50% of those entering will manage to graduate in 6 years.

Thus, getting into college isn't the trick. It is graduating that's the main idea. Perhaps we need an office of "completion" in addition to the typical office of admissions that now exists. See To Raise Graduation Rate, Colleges Are Urged to Help a Changing Student Body.

But that doesn't mean college isn't worth the effort. It just means that the effort must be pursued seriously from the first day the entering student steps on campus.

So what's a student to do? Get as much education as possible and as inexpensively as possible, too. At least that's what the objective evidence reveals once again, as it always has.

Benefits of College Degree in Recession Are Outlined makes the point well:

Young adults have long faced a rough job market, but in the last recession and its aftermath, college graduates did not lose nearly as much ground as their less-educated peers, according to a new study.


The study . . . shows that among Americans age 21 to 24, the drop in employment and income was much steeper among people who lacked a college degree.

The findings come as many published articles and books have told the stories of young college graduates unable to find work, and questioned the conventional wisdom that a college education is a worthwhile investment and the key to opportunity and social mobility. The study did not take into account the cost of going to college.
“This shows that any amount of post-secondary education does improve the labor market outcomes for those recent graduates,” said Diana Elliott, the research manager for Pew’s Economic Mobility Project. . . .    
Among those whose highest degree was a high school diploma, only 55 percent had jobs even before the downturn, and that fell to 47 percent after it. For young people with an associate’s degree, the employment rate fell from 64 percent to 57 percent.
But those with a bachelor’s degree started off in the strongest position and weathered the downturn best, with employment slipping from 69 percent to 65 percent. . . .
Similarly, in all three groups of young adults, wages fell for those who had work, but the decline was spread unevenly.
People with four-year college degrees saw a 5 percent drop in wages, compared with a 12 percent decrease for their peers with associate’s degrees, and a 10 percent decline for high school graduates.
One surprise in the data, Ms. Elliott said, had to do with “the prevailing speculation that people who couldn’t find work were returning to school, enhancing their training.” In fact, college enrollment over all rose sharply for several years, driven primarily by older students, before leveling off in 2011.
But Pew’s study found that among people age 21 to 24, the rate of college enrollment actually declined slightly, during and after the recession.

Summing Up
For those willing to do the work needed to get good grades and borrow as little money as possible while doing so, pursuing a college degree remains a great investment.
While a degree in and of itself guarantees nothing, having one definitely increases the odds for individual financial success and job stability in adulthood.
But for those not serious about doing the work to get the best outcome possible in a few years -- a relatively short amount of our lifetime -- attending college is a waste of time -- and money.
Especially if the end result is dropping out of college before completing one's degree and after racking up a large amount of student debt.
That's my take anyway.
Thanks. Bob.      

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