Monday, April 14, 2008

It soon may make cents not to go to college

One of the big reasons for spending tens of thousands of dollars and several years at college is over a life time the increased education will pay back with bigger paychecks. Many people claim that a college education will generate at least a million dollars in higher wages over a career.

Charles Miller questions this assertion. He writes:

"... using assumptions more in line with current realities, might reach the shocking conclusions that American higher education today has gotten too expensive for what it produces; that it has become too costly for the typical student ... that education (a college degree) does not pay!"

Investing is always about looking for getting a great return, getting the biggest bang for the buck. If it costs $50,000 and four years to get a BA or BS, and that will give you a million dollars over forty years, then a college education is probably a good investment. For the last several decades the cost of higher education climbs twice as fast as inflation. If the economic benefit is more like a half a million, over forty years, then hundreds of thousands of dollars for tuition, board and room, and lost opportunities may make tradition colleges a bad investment.

Janine and I do value education. We are trying to teach our daughters to value education. We are trying to instill in them a life long habit of learning. Currently we plan to send them off to college. I wonder though what our grandchildren will be doing for higher education.

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, public school, public education, education


Sebastian said...

I think it is also worth differentiating between the value of particular coursework or research and certain degrees. If I were an employer, there are certain degrees that I would really have to question (most of them include the word "studies"). I would wonder what marketable skills a graduate with this degree actually learned.
I'm not ready to totally rule out my kids getting a degree. Their parents each have a couple. But I'm not interested in wasting $80,000 on a sheet of paper that represents more reputation than real learning.

Henry Cate said...

"But I'm not interested in wasting $80,000 on a sheet of paper that represents more reputation than real learning."

This is the key distinction that many people miss: there is a difference between getting an education and getting a certificate. In our society many people seem to that that the Wizard of Oz is true, if you have a piece of people, you have an education.

opelske said...

First of all, college costs have risen and $50,000 and even $80,000 will take care of perhaps 2 years for tuition alone. In a moderately priced college, one can easily expect to spend on tuition alone around $100,000 for 4 years, now add room and board and if renting privately near a college, another $10,000 per year, add food, gas, etc. Colleges today offer ridiculous degrees in just about everything, and offer elective courses that are equally useless, expensive, and will earn no credit if taken elsewhere. My concern as this relates to the argument that 'competition' in public and pre-college education will lead to better education, does not hold true for me. Colleges that accept government funding are subject to control at the whims of government agencies and competition is left in the dust. There is no real competition and the tuition costs do not vary much, except perhaps in State universities. Formal college education is good for academic work, certain sciences and other areas where degrees are required, and in those areas, the requirements and certificates, have run amok. Too many students graduate with a degree and have learned very little - not everyone is college material -- we need more trade schools that incorporate some basic communication, reading, and writing, skills.

community college said...

I fully agree with Henry why should we spend around $80,000 and sheet of paper which represent more reputed than real learning

It's totally waste of money