Ask the Readers: Is it Worth it to Go to College?

By Ashley Jacobs on 22 February 2011 (Updated 1 March 2011) 90 comments
Photo: Jason Bache

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Eric, janieliz19, and Lillian Bannister for winning this week's contest!

Going to college after high school seems to be the norm for most students. Attending and graduating from college has almost always been looked upon favorably. However, with all the budget cuts to education and tuition increases, many people are starting to question whether or not going to college is really worth it.

Do you think it is worth it to go to college? Are the financial hardships associated with getting a degree worth the potential rewards? Why or why not?

Tell us whether or not you think it is worth it to go to college and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Enter 1 of 3 Ways:

  • Post your answer in the comments below, or
  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, then "Like" the update mentioning this giveaway (you can comment, as well — but you don't have to for entry), or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, February 28th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after February 28th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email, Facebook, and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

5
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Your rating: None
ShareThis

comments

90 discussions

Add New Comment

CAPTCHA
This test helps prevent automated spam submissions.
Guest's picture
mg-stl

College is worth the price, but this is coming from me, a person who had the privilege to go to college because my parents footed the tuition bill. It was the late '90s and early '00s, when the cost of education wasn't as obscene as today, and I attended a state school.

I didn't graduate, however, and my two outstanding classes are a thorn in my side. Though I have a full-time job in which I earn more than the median U.S. salary, the lack of a degree has kept other employers from hiring me. Unless an individual has great connections, I don't know how he/she could land a decent-paying job (one that supports mortgage, lifestyle and family) without the backing of a college education.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Thanks for sharing your experience! Have you thought about going back to finish those two classes and get your degree?

Guest's picture
Guest

College is worth it if students use the experience to its fullest. The college dorm experience can be a great scaffolded introduction to living on one's own. College courses can train students for specific high paying careers if the student is driven and diligent. College on-campus jobs and career centers can give students work experience and connect students with higher paying employers.

College is not for everyone, but it has the potential to help students grow into productive, world-smart adults.

Andrea Karim's picture

I totally agree. It is about choosing the right college, too.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Great point Andrea!

Guest's picture
Amanda

It depends. It's not worth going 100k in debt to be a social worker.

Guest's picture
Jennifer

College is definitely worth the investment, IF you do the Return on Investment analysis first and go into a field that is actually going to pay you back for the cost of that degree. As I have discovered while assisting my 16-year-old daughter in her research of schools and programs out there, very often a 2 year Associates Degree from a community college can pay better than a 4 year degree in the Liberal Arts. Business Management, Paralegal Studies, Radiologic Technician.... all fields that require merely an Associates and start out at $40k a year.

There are far too many people out there with BA's and BS's in sociology, education, marketing, and other fields who can't find meaningful work and are now going back to school at community colleges to get their AS in another field so they can pay off those huge student loans they took out to get the BS.

Guest's picture
Happy

No. I went to college and wished I hadn't wasted those years when I could've been working on my business. I didn't learn anything in class that I haven't been able to learn from a book. Invest the money and skip college.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

That's a great point about being able to learn what you could be taught in a classroom from books. It's too bad employers can't look at how people have chosen to educate themselves and consider substituting that for a degree. Of course, people would have to read a ton of books to be able to substitute self-education for a college education.

Guest's picture
Patrick

Just like any other investment, it has to satisfy a reasonable "business plan." The ROI has to be higher than alternative opportunities and you have to break even within a period you're comfortable with by making more coming out of school than you would not having gone to school. However, the value of college is enhanced by the social opportunities and opportunity to be independent that it provides. It is likely the first proving ground that many people who go to college may have to demonstrate that they can be self-motivated, self-directed, decisive, etc. It gives them a relatively worry-free environment to test out social skills, leadership skills, academic paths/majors. For all of those reasons, it is definitely worth the cost.

Guest's picture
GuestInCollege

College is worth it only if you use the experience to the greatest advantage. Use it to grow, learn about yourself, network with people, etc.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Great advice! Thanks for sharing with us!

Guest's picture
Sarah

I think it depends on the person. If you know what you want to do and get a job then it is worth the money and the debt. If you are just going to go, then no, you need to get direction first.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Agreed. Also, I think it is important for kids who want to go to college and don't have a direction to start at a community college to help them figure out what they really want to study.

Guest's picture
Eric

It was helpful for me, although I also had my parents foot the bill. But socially I came into my own, I learned a fair amount, and it helped me get work.

Guest's picture
Heather

Higher education should be about getting an education and pursuing our intellectual interests. Unfortunately, our society is strongly trending towards using a college degree as a job certificate/prequalification. Too many times a highly qualified worker is turned down because they don't have a college degree. The flip side of that is also true: a college graduate with all those years of inexperience and lack of knowledge gets a top paying job based on their potential over someone who worked their way up.

So, to answer the question of whether a college education is worth the costs given the rewards, it depends on your frame of mind. If it's to get a job, then maybe it isn't worth the cost. Especially if the salary doesn't pay back the costs of tuition/loans fast enough. However, if it's about developing your mind and participating in the conversation of a subject with the rest of humanity over time, well then the costs just might be worth it.

Guest's picture
NJJ

Yes and no, having gone to college I feel first hand that having a college degree can help in some fields and is a necessity for others like doctors or lawyers teachers etc but with job security out the window I feel a college degree can help you get a few more job interviews but not much else. No amount of education or experience makes anyone immune to downsizing or a layoff unfortunately, these days

Not to mention when I was in HS, the HS and college the curricula in my area have changed alot some for the good and some for the bad. So in my area graduating HS or college really doesn't prepare you for much after you graduate And lord forbid if you loose a good paying job here, because a lot of fast food places, or retailers don't favor the college educated since they know they aren't trapped there like someone with either no education, a GED or HS diploma Having a college degree for many retailers here makes you seem overqualified.

Guest's picture
Selene

I think going to college is worth if the student really wants to be there, and is willing to make the financial commitments to do it, regardless of the parents' ability to pay. If you earn it yourself, you appreciate it a lot more. Obviously, if your desired profession requires that degree, it's also necessary.

Guest's picture
Selene

I Like wisebread on Facebook as Selene Montgomery

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Thanks for letting us know Selene! Don't forget to "like" our post about this article on Facebook too! :)

Guest's picture
Amanda

Absolutely. I'm graduating with a BA in May and have found the experience to be extremely valuable. I've learned so much both in the classroom and out. The student work experience that has been available to me these past 4 years has been incredible.

However, I'm also going to be graduating debt free. Anywhere between 12-18 credits is the same amount of tuition - so I was taking on the high end this whole time to decrease my cost/credit which has allowed me to ultimately pay less. I've also been working about 25-30 hours per week on top of those classes and 50-60 hours per week in the summers. Those, combined with help from my parents, has allowed me to graduate with no loans. Other than a few, I've really enjoyed my classes and have loved my jobs, so it hasn't been too bad. :)

Guest's picture
Vance

It is only worth it if what you do there (the classes you take, the people you meet, etc.) are really worth it in the long run, and you're not just getting a piece of paper out of it.

Guest's picture
Betty

I'm currently paying for my daughter. It's worth it to attend for many reasons, but the money doesn't balance out anymore. You have to pick your career carefully. It wouldn't make sense to spend $200k and become a teacher.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Very true Betty!

Guest's picture
Therese

I think it is definitely worth it in order to learn more about oneself and others, as well as the specific and general knowledge gained .

Guest's picture
Rachel Crockett

Having actually paid for all of my degrees. Yes. But that's with ROI taken into consideration.

Nonetheless, college is not for everyone and I wish less parents would foot the bill. Nothing was more annoying than being stuck in a class with kids who obviously would rather be back in the dorm recovering from the night before. If you don't want to be there don't show up. Unlike them, I was paying like $200 a credit hour out of my pocket to attend that lecture. You better believe I showed up to class everyday and did the assignments!

Guest's picture

It depends on the degree and career desired. For something that must have the education to back it up, doctor, lawyer, engineer, of course. To be an artist, writer, other creative type, not so much. Check out the requirements of what you want to do before investing.

Guest's picture
Matt

For professional service careers: accountants, lawyers, etc that requires licensing, it is worth it. Outside of that, 95% of degreed folks do not have a job in their field of study. Either what they thought they wanted to do with their life was off the mark, or the job hunting campaign needs an overhaul. Have a Plan A, and a Plan B. If you don't have either, then spending big time money to find out what it is you want in life is a very risky endeavor. Kids are on the Internet all time anyway, they need to spend some of that time researching potential careers. From there, choose a few that you like, then choose the college that meets those needs. A general degree, such as Business Administration, covers the 95% of the field where people end up anyways!

Guest's picture
Annie

College is worth it in many instances, but sometimes it winds up being a little more than a training program.

Guest's picture
Katie R

College is worth it from many perspectives, but mainly, to work in many industries, a college degree is required. A college degree allows you to get your foot in the door; after that, your results (combined with your social network) will guide your career.

Guest's picture
Carson M.

College is always worthwhile because it is a focal point for many other invaluable experiences, much of which becomes more important than the education itself.

Guest's picture
Lynda

i definitely think so. education aside, it's a good experience to learn how to be independent for some kids nowadays!

Guest's picture
Joel

Yes, after some "real world" work experience and seeking cost-minimization. Learning how to study and gaining practice in thinking and communicating is quite valuable, and I found the external discipline and the connection with teachers to be important. I worked my way through school, spending around $20-25K for my bachelor's degree (started with an associate's at a community college, finished the bachelor's at a private school). Being a "part timer" while working full time reduced the costs substantially.

Guest's picture
Marilyn

As a person who has a bachelor's degrees and three master's degrees, all paid for out of my own pocket, I definitely believe a college education is worth the investment.

Overall, life income is greater for college educated people. But beyond that, it is all of the other benefits that may not be so tangible. Going to college and beyond teaches a person who to learn and hopefully learn quickly which is an invaluable skill once out in the world of work where required skills are constantly changing.

A college education makes a person wiser and a less gullible person as a consumer and as a citizen.

Education also adds to a person's ability to converse and relate to all kinds of people. That is not only a necessary job skill but a general life skill.

Guest's picture
Guest from CA

A qualified yes from me. I don't think there's any black & white single perfect answer to this. The student needs to put in the effort to maximize the opportunity. I think only a few career tracks are worth racking up a whole lot of debt - those where you can't get a job without the degree, and you know you'll make enough more with the degree to pay off the debt. I attended college on a full scholarship. My child had a mix of scholarships, grants, $ from family, and financial aid.

Guest's picture
Guest

I believe that this would depend upon which career path one chooses. I have attended college twice, the second time of which was to advance my career but initially had chosen a career in the healthcare field. Friends of mine on the other hand attended college for degrees which did not appear to be "in demand" at the time, if ever, and are now attempting to pay back $200.00 - $300.00/ month student loans while making $10.00/ hr in a field NOT of their choice.

Other, often lucky as I will call them, individuals I have known have not attended college and found lucrative (a means to sustain their chosen lifestyle) employment and also do not have the financial burden of paying back loans. It seems to be a toss-up whether or not one needs to attend AND have it pay off in the future. I suggest individuals be certain that they know what it is they would like to achieve and what profession they wich to achieve in prior to attending. College is too costly of a mistake to be changing majors one too many times and taking 6 years to complete a 4 year program due to indecisiveness.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Great recommendation! Students should definitely know what they want to study before they sign up for courses so that they don't waste money.

Guest's picture
Keri Ritenour

t is definitely worth it to go to college. You must be grounded and ready to learn. Give it your all. Don't go if you are not going to be there for the right reasons. There are so many colleges/universities out there today that the options are endless. College shop frugally. For most jobs, a college degree is required, but you can find employers that will hire you based on experience, etc. They are few and far between. On the flip side, I have known college graduates unable to obtain a position in their chosen career field because they had no experience. Preparing for college should include your plans for the future. Research your career field to see if you will be able to obtain employment after graduation or if you will need to obtain experience somewhere. I whole heartedly believe in life-long learning. I have attended several colleges and they just never felt right. The professors/instructors were not helpful or were not teaching me (I wasn't learning). If it is not the right school, find another. I finally found a school that meets my needs and I love it, not to mention I shopped around to find the best bang for my buck! Be prepared for plenty of researching and life goal planning. It will be worth it in the end.

Guest's picture
Guest

As more and more people go to college, our jobs go overseas. Do you see the connection? NO ONE in this country wants to be a factory worker sewing buttons on.
The mentality that "College = Good Job" is very deeply embedded in our society. We need to be more realistic...not everyone can be "somebody".

Guest's picture
Guest

As more and more people go to college, our jobs go overseas. Do you see the connection? NO ONE in this country wants to be a factory worker sewing buttons on.
The mentality that "College = Good Job" is very deeply embedded in our society. We need to be more realistic...not everyone can be "somebody".

Guest's picture
Crystal Moyer

Yes it is worth it to go at least i wish i would have gone i would be alot better off than i am now.

Guest's picture
kristine

Yes. Every job I have gotten has been in part possible because of my degree. And later I became a teacher- which requires a degree. My grad advisor's recommendation put me at the top of the stack for the best jobs. I went on full scholarship for undergrad, my employer paid for my first master's, and my husband being a professor made my second masters for teaching free as well. Now I am faced with sending 2 kids, and one has a full scholarship. The other is not an A student, and interested in theater, but he will major in architecture (which he also likes), and do theater on the side. For both, college is expected, so they can make connections, grow up socially in a way HS does not allow, gain independence, make lifelong friends, have skills that will support them, and a degree that will get them the interviews.

MG-STL- I left college with 3 electives to go, for a great job offer. I went back when I had a baby (baby in tow), and finished the undergrad degree 10 years later. It was really hard, but worth it. Do it if you can. And your adult pro behavior will make it easier now, and at the top of the class!

Guest's picture
Heather

I spent two years in college, then bailed. I wanted to be a reporter, had taken almost all the journalism classes in those first two years, and didn't want to waste time and money on general subjects.

It has paid off for me. I started working at a newspaper in 2007. If I had waited to graduate, that would have seen me entering the job market in 2008 and probably never getting that foothold I needed to get started.

I don't feel my education has suffered -- I can learn most of what I'd have learned there on my own. I do think my paycheck might have suffered a bit, though I don't know. It has been a bad few years for journalism regardless.

Guest's picture
kristina wittchen

It is worth it to go to college. I think it gives you an advantage in the workplace.

Guest's picture
RYAN

Yes, going to college is worth it. Out of high school I didn't go straight to college and was able to find steady work but not for near the amount of pay I would have liked. So I went back to college and got a license in the medical field. Now I am making more money than I ever have and it's relieved lots of stress because now my bills are easier to pay.

Guest's picture
Aaron

It's worth it only if you have specific goals it doesn't put you into a lot of debt. Going to school just to fill an expectation is pointless, and there's no sense in picking up a lot of debt just so you can barely make ends meet as a wage slave--if you're lucky enough to find a job in your field.

Guest's picture
Guest

Going to college is worth it for two reasons. One, In addition to anything you manage to learn, you make connections that will carry with you in the outside world (This can amount to jobs,) and two, that regardless of your degree... it WILL open doors for you that people without the degree may not come across in their lifetime.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Very true!

Guest's picture
jaimee wood

I completely think college is worth it. I was given many opportunities in college that eventually led to an incredible job after graduation.

Guest's picture
Audrey H.

I think it's worth it if you can finish school with little to no debt. So many jobs require higher education. Community college is a great way to save on the first two years also.

Guest's picture
KDG

To sum it up, YES !! In life, there are no guarantees, except taxes and death. My degrees are in Accounting and Computers (graduated mid 80's) which have open doors to jobs even in a down market. Being the oldest of seven siblings, half of them with degreees, one can see the different. A degree is an investment in ones self and ones future, SO get studying and graduate, you will enjoy the adventure Can not sum it up better then that.

Guest's picture
Nicholas

For me college was worth it. College is where I was introduced to computer/web programming and loved it. I also found my job due to my college and I have been moving up the ranks even through the economic hard times so it is hard for me to say that it was not worth it.

Guest's picture
Alex D.

A decision about college can be made by looking at a few different variables. If the field you are intending to enter is extremely competitive, college is worth every penny (most of the time, I'll come back to this). If you are entering a field with a standard/usual/normal amount of competition, college can usually be justified as a way to set yourself apart from your competition. Now if you are entering a field that requires no college and isn't competitive, college usually is ruled out.
College will be expensive, and expensive is relative, but the cost doesn't need to be over the top. We all know someone who paid triple to tuition, for half the education. Don't be that person

Guest's picture
Aaron M

College is worth it if you don't have real work experience or real items to show to possible employers. It also depends on what you are going to do.

Guest's picture
Guest

The bigger question would be:
Is a college education providing America with an educated workforce?
Are there enough educated workers capable of steping in?
Is that why Corporations are looking overseas?

Guest's picture
Guest

Corporations are looking overseas to pay less in wages, and avoid paying benefits. Not because we do not have an educated work force. The majority of the jobs leaving (customer service and manufacturing) do not require a degree. Without a degree it is a global race to the bottom.

Guest's picture
crosberg

Depends on a few things: the cost, the school, and the student. I was lucky to get a lot of scholarships and my parents helped pay my way. I am not directly using my degrees, but I learned a lot about myself, my work ethic, what motivates me, and what my skills are most concentrated around, so it was definitely worth it for me!

Guest's picture
Alex

A college education is definitely worth while, especially if you put in the work in high school to get great scholarships to pay for school.

For some trades and occupations, college is not the right path. But, more and more jobs are requiring a diploma of some sort.

Guest's picture
thatmikeguy2

Maybe, or most likely. Worth what and for who, are the questions. Money, depends on how much and for what future job, and how likely that job will be needed at that point. Experience, many may enjoy the experience, others may not. Time, depends on the job, if your making a million a year now, then I'd say no. All of those require some amount of luck. So my advise would be to always do your best AT and FOR, WHO and WHAT you LOVE. If you follow that, the path will be your path.

Guest's picture
Emily

Yes. Almost all jobs these days require a college degree (unless it's a trade skill or vocation). You don't need a fancy private college degree that puts you in debt for years, but you need a degree from an accredited school. Not only does college show that you have a specialized area of expertise, but it also shows an employer that you have commitment, can work under pressure, and a host of other valuable skills.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Great point about how a degree shows that you have commitment! That's so true!

Guest's picture
Dana

Absolutely!!!

Guest's picture
Ruby22

I am all for college, as long as it doesn't come at a price that limits your options- and that is exactly where I'm at now. I'm in grad school- and while it's a great education, is the debt I'm accumulating keeping me from other interests and opportunities?

I think you should try community college, state college, etc. until you figure out what you want. If you're not happy, take a leave of absence and try another path. Don't let college make you "stuck," for fear of completion or stress over mountains of debt.

Going to grad school has brought me a lot of great life experiences that didn't occur in the classroom, but the process is something I think was worth it (the moving, exploration, building national networks)- but I hope "college itself," won't entrap me or anyone else just for the sake of having a piece of paper. Go if it matters to you, leave when you feel it's right, go back when it's time. It's hard to make generalizations otherwise. :)

Guest's picture
Jonathan

Going to college is worth it depending on your degree. If you're getting a professional degree — law, medicine, accounting engineering, etc. — it's a good choose. However, just getting a degree in something that interests you may not be the best choose.

For all of you English and history majors out there you know what I mean. While you may have enjoyed your classes in college, finding a job with one of those degrees is tough. Starbucks or working as a bank tell may be where you end up with those degrees trying to figure out how to pay off your student loans

Guest's picture
Kristy OT

It all depends on your particular abilities and goals. We made the decision to send my husband to college after we got married so that he could become a software engineer. Would it have been possible for him to learn the field and get hired on his own? Maybe... but it would have been extremely difficult. But say your great aspiration in life is to be a cosmetologist. Or you're slightly brain-damaged and have trouble remembering things. College is not worth it for everyone.

Guest's picture
Mark_Egypt

It depends! I did a double major (Finance/Business Management) and felt like half the time I spent at University was a waste. Why do I need to take more electives? I'm someone who learns hands on. In my opinion, a work/study combination would be the best. This way the same time that students are learning new terms and skills, they can see how these are applied in the work place doing an internship.

I'm now the Managing Director of a Food and Beverage company and have met many people with college degrees. Unfortunately this does not guarantee anything. There's a difference between memorizing (which many college students seem to do) and learning.

Guest's picture
Mattimus

Hey Ashley,

Idk, Most of the best stuff I've learned on my own. But it wouldn't have happened with out the spark of interest that the community and mentorship at college gave me. Specifically Mike Colagrosso's Operating Systems class that forced me into Linux...the Dark Side.

Of course I did Computer Science, I'm sure there's some degrees that are totally worth it and others not. Culinary Arts and Music? Maybe not. Engineering and Management? Maybe. And also depends on the person, if they can observe/read books/teach themselves and are self motivated, etc. But ultimately what's essential to optimal learning no matter what, is the mentorship of an experienced master.

But only time'll tell if it was worth all the g's I'm dealn' out each month. Maybe.

Check out this robot!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEma1Tof-Ng&feature=related

- Mattimus

(Say hi to Nate and Diamond!)

Ashley Jacobs's picture

Hi Matt!

That's definitely true that certain classes can help someone find what interests them. I agree with your point too that having a mentor is essential to learning. I wouldn't have learned anything about marketing or personal finance if it hadn't been for my first internship. I learned things that I would have never learned in a classroom because of my first internship.

Cool robot! Oh, Nate and Diamond say hi back. :)

Guest's picture
Christie Struck

It really depends on what you want to do! If you are planning to get a corporate, even small company, job, then a college degree will be an asset worth paying for. My husband got a job simply because he, and not the other prospective employee, had a college degree. (BTW, he just celebrated his 16th anniversary there.) I had quite a few opportunities to travel during college and LOVED it! I'm now hopefully instilling a love of travel in my own children. College degrees are pretty much looked at equally, even though some have paid 50K a year and others 20K. Most of the time, just the fact that you have a degree is helpful.

Guest's picture
Maria S

yes

Guest's picture
Maria S

yes

Guest's picture
Mavis D.

Yes and no. Some people really gain a lot from the college environment and learn a lot.

However, the cost of college is so high I wonder if most are selling their futures down the drain. Look at the many many people who are successful entrepreneurs without college degrees... most of them dropped out of college.

Also, if you think about the fact that most people are not working in the field they received their degree in...seems like a big waste of money to me.

Other people would do much better finding an apprenticeship program to work. They get useful training without all the fluff of college and most of the time they are PAID! Now that's a deal worth looking in to.

Guest's picture
Marie

College can be worth the price if you have a clear idea of what the education will be a means to achieving (a stable job, a salary, etc).

Too many college students:
- Go because it is expected without thought to the long term implications of cost
- Use it as an extension of high school/ a place to stall entering the real world or
- Pursue what has been labeled "selfish" means (pursing a topic because of a strong like, without intention or ability to use it for a career).
In these cases the college education may hold some value to the person, but not be worth the monetary cost.

Then again, my valedictorian cousin, decided that four years of college wasn't worth the money and decided he would instead pursue his interest in technical field (cars). With only two years in school, no debt and a career he loves, he manages a race shop and out earns the other two of us who have graduate degrees, school debt and "it pays the bills" type jobs.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

That's so true, many students just go to college because they think it's what is expected of them. Like you said, it's important for students to go to college if they understand what can be achieved by getting an education.

Guest's picture
Devin

College is really only as good as you make it. After attending a tier-1 public university and a local state college, I've found the local college experience significantly better. Not because they are better funded (they aren't), have better professors (they don't), or better opportunities (nope). It's because I've poured myself into the curriculum with the right colleagues and we're learning more every week than I did in entire semesters at the older school.

Beyond that, it's not worth it.

Guest's picture
Amber

it is definitely worth it to go to college as long as the time and money are spent on training for a lucrative career - the loans are low interest and if you spend a good amount of time on applying for scholarships and grants, you can drastically lower the cost.

Guest's picture
Amanda

For me, college was not worth the cost. For me, it was all about degree. I am the only college graduate in my family, so my parents convinced me that any degree was good enough, so I went for theatre. Graduated with $40,000 in student loans for a degree that got me a job paying $20,000 per year, got married shortly after and plan to quit to have children soon. If you want to have a family oriented life style, college is not really worth it.

Guest's picture
Guest

No....I have a B.A. in English, a teaching license and a Masters in Education plus twelve years of teaching.... You get a Masters because you have to keep taking classes to keep your teaching license. Then...you are over educated. Schools can not afford Master teachers because their budgets cannot afford your salary. And now...I am out here with what, fifteen million other people, applying for jobs for four years. I work three part time jobs just to exist. No one cares about your experience, your degrees, your top notch references...no one cares because they can choose from so many. I have rewritten my resume so many times that I don't even know who I am anymore!

Guest's picture
Dominique

I think that an individual will reap the benefits of going to college if it is coupled with real work experience, as well as a strong knowledge of and interest in going into a specific line of work.

I went to school to earn a BA in Communication because I had a desire to get a MA and use my degrees to teach at a university (it is a requirement). While I attended school, I worked in various fields including Accounting and Business. While I was in school, I got a great job, but it was specifically based off of my work experience. However, in order to move up and become a director, it is a requirement to have a degree, the subject matter does not matter, they just require that you have a BA in something.

Personally, I feel that my degree is and will be useless until I decide to get a MA and go into a specialized field (teaching). As I move up in the business sector, I'm leaning more and more towards going back to school to get a degree in Business because it provides me with specialized knowledge that I cant get strictly from work experience. Hence the reason why I feel that a degree doesnt provide any real world benefits until you're almost certain of which direction you are heading in.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

I agree, pairing an education with work experience is extremely beneficial.

Guest's picture
Raina

I don't think the education is worth the expense; these days, there's a lot you can learn online for free. It's just the piece of paper (degree) that you're really paying for, and that's because so many employers these days REQUIRE at least a Bachelor's degree. I was able to get an excellent job without a degree, mainly because I proved that I have the required skills and experience, but also because I'm young and still in school PURSUING that degree that they want me to have. I'm a Computer Science major; programming languages are learned for free at home every day, so there's no logical reason for me to pay thousands of dollars for someone to teach me. It's all about the degree.

Guest's picture
Alicia C.

For me - YES! I want to teach and the only way to do so is with a degree. I will have it next year and can't wait. I'll, then, have four years to get my Master's. It's required in my area, but I really don't think that this second degree it worth what it's going to cost me - I won't get a raise after obtaining the second degree, just the ability to keep my job.

Guest's picture
KelR1

If you know what you want to do with your life or if you just want to enrich yourself and enjoy learning then, yes, it's worth it. It definitely helps if you can afford it, but college can be an excellent investment in yourself, your career, and your future. If you go simply because it's expected of you, your parents want you to go, all your friends are going, you don't know what else to do, or just going for the partying, then I would say not worth it.

Guest's picture
Lady Lady

Yes! But I do think we should do a better job of preparing college students for making decisions about their majors and whether or not they are practical. Take it from an Art History major...

Guest's picture
cynthia rafler

Compared to other countries, we need kids who are smart to continue their education, if they can afford it, for the good of the world. My 23 year old daughter had to drop out of her major in chemistry to help support the family in this horrible economy. She has many student loans, I doubt she will be able to return to college or do anything with her chemistry knowledge. Science is one of the subjects many American children are falling behind in. With Obama wanting to cut the pell grants, I am afraid my 20 year old son who is only going to community college to become a police officer, will not be able to finish his education as well. In this economy we also need the safety of the police. I have very little hope for American's children and our future as a whole.

Guest's picture
Teacher

As a high school teacher with 31 years of encouraging students, I can say that "It all depends..." Almost all jobs require some sort of additional training beyond high school, but only about 20% of all jobs require a BA or beyond. Unfortunately, because young people have a rare combination of egocentricity and optimism (that a BA in sociology will offset that $80,000 student loan...), we as adults MUST encourage fiscal responsibility with that yearning young people have. I want ALL young people to be successful, and I know the adults reading this site feel the same. Let's make sure that we tailor our advice to our kids so that our young people don't mortgage their futures away with excessive student loans.

Guest's picture

I say it's one of the most perverse thing in our society. We've somehow convinced ourselves that college and university are the foundation to wealth creation and it's totally false.

The time involved and the money are counter productive. One wastes 4 years and spends, what, hundreds of thousands in some cases? The experiences do not offer valuable enough knowledge so that when the student graduates they can produce value exceeding what they paid in tuition.

College and University have almost become a fad. Baby boomers seem to have been particularly addicted to the myth that "going to college" is the way to wealth. I have no idea why. Maybe generations like Gen X will raise their kids differently, it's hard to say. I am betting against the business of school in the future...I think many colleges will go broke...many are broke. Good riddance.

Certainly, if one wants to become a professional doctor, lawyer, dentist, engineer, or any other science oriented field, college and university are a must.

I went to a "great" University and the experience was "fun". My degree was in commerce and I specialize in Hotel and Tourism administration. In a nut shell, Universities have to fill 4 years, so they often make degree programs take 2-3 times longer then they need to. They're in the business of selling tuition, right?

So many of my courses were redundant I became a dissatisfied customer. I have learned so much more on my own, through reading and travel and speaking with professionals in many fields. I subscribe to newsletters and I learn on my own. I love learning despite universities short comings.

I home school my children, so I research education a great deal. I think, education like so many things is evolving. It's easy to condemn it (the norm), but it's served a purpose - good for the division of labor system - pumping out automatons, good little worker bees.

I read that the entire math curriculum from grades 1-12, if the child waited until they were naturally comfortable and ready to learn math, could be learned in 18 months! This is a game changer. The problem for most kids is being on a time clock with a bell, and having some mediocre teacher preaching, breeds mediocrity. I want more for my children.

Same goes for college and university. I'm not sending them, cause it's "the thing to do", according to the guidance councilor, main stream media and my peers. Why? Because they can't prove the worth to me. They're not dealing in facts, but fads.

A better way, might be, take $50K that might have gone into school and set a plan with your child. Plan out a voyage to 25 countries 1 month each and do a year worth of research on the movers and shakers in the major centers - the professional in law, real estate, banking, etc. Have your child travel to these places with a plan, like Barron Rothschild did with his 5 boys, sending them to the 5 major centers of Europe. Your child documents all the info they learn: laws, prices, opportunities, contacts, etc. and when they return you make a new plan to build an international business. Take another $50K or so and grub stake their new, international business. You're in for 70% stake and they get 30% and they do the work with your capital....this is what J Paul Getty's dad did with him.

Teach kids critical thinking and then think about spending a quarter million and 4 years on college....

Guest's picture
J.W. Sym

I believe higher education is worth the money if you take what you want to study and potential loan and income into account when choosing a school. Besides, going to college isn't just about what you learn from the books, it's about the entire experience of learning.

Here's my related blog post: http://savvyyoungmoney.blogspot.com/2011/02/stop-dismissing-higher-educa...

Guest's picture
Guest

The value of college is absolutely worth the cost, provided that students are getting a solid liberal arts foundation that teaches them critical thinking and creative problem solving skills. Those skills will last a lifetime, whereas the applied skills you learn will have to be updated as technology and practices evolve, and will help you in your personal life as well as in the workplace.

Guest's picture
terrellterp

If your dream job requires a degree, then it will be worth it. I'm a certified sign language interpreter. The national Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf recently implemented degree requirements for interpreters ... currently a minimum of an associate's degree before taking the certification tests, but starting next year, a bachelor's degree will be required.

It is true that there are interpreters without a degree who can teach some of us a thing or two.

I think we should have more apprenticeship training opportunities.