America's Most Overrated Product: the Bachelor's Degree
Among my saddest moments as a career counselor is when I hear a story like this: "I wasn't a good student in high school, but I wanted to prove that I can get a college diploma. I'd be the first one in my family to do it. But it's been five years and $80,000, and I still have 45 credits to go."
I have a hard time telling such people the killer statistic: Among high-school students who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their classes, and whose first institutions were four-year colleges, two-thirds had not earned diplomas eight and a half years later. That figure is from a study cited by Clifford Adelman, a former research analyst at the U.S. Department of Education and now a senior research associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Yet four-year colleges admit and take money from hundreds of thousands of such students each year!
Even worse, most of those college dropouts leave the campus having learned little of value, and with a mountain of debt and devastated self-esteem from their unsuccessful struggles. Perhaps worst of all, even those who do manage to graduate too rarely end up in careers that require a college education. So it's not surprising that when you hop into a cab or walk into a restaurant, you're likely to meet workers who spent years and their family's life savings on college, only to end up with a job they could have done as a high-school dropout.
Comment: The key ... do not borrow money to go to college. One of my kids suggested that I "cash out" my home equity to provide $$ for his college. I said "what does 'cash out' mean?". As you can probably guess, I did not take out a home equity loan to pay for his college. I'm actually pro-college. Kathee and I both have degrees: Kathee in Math from Florida State (1973), me Economics and Finance from the University of Cincinnati (1971).
Sad stories I've heard:
- A woman who got a degree in culinary arts (borrowed money) and basically makes little more than mininum wage at a restaurant.
- Ones (there's more than one) who have degrees in art, or sociology, or philosophy, or drama who cannot get a decent job.
- One I know who got her degree in History and wanted to work for the (_my company's_____) History Museum. Only to find out that the "historians" are basically clerks.
- Think about the job you will work after college before you go to college.
- Consider the military (like the Navy or the Air Force) where one get get some real life training (and a degree) paid for by the government while one is serving his country.
- Don't borrow!
HT: Bike Bubba