The Value of a College Degree

- By Bossip Staff

With the difficult economic times that many people are facing, some are starting to question the overall value of a college education.

As millions of students labor over college applications this month, they and their parents are pondering just how big a tuition bill they want to pay.

Students are increasingly skeptical about the value of a college degree; the proportion who are willing to borrow money for college if necessary has fallen to 53% from 67% in the past year, based on a survey of 800 college students by Sallie Mae, Reston, Va.

Parents are thinking harder, too, about why they sign big tuition checks.

Yet, while some are pondering whether or not the cost of higher education is truly worth the expense, there are still many who feel that a college education is priceless and a valuable asset. They cite examples such as:

A path to a better-paying job: College graduates in general earn at least 60% more than high-school grads on average, both annually and over their lifetimes, and the income gap has been growing over time, says a 2007 report by the College Board, New York.

Finding work you love: James Landon, Apache Junction, Ariz., says this is a good reason to attend college, and he sees big public universities as the best and most cost-effective place to conduct such a search.

Gaining an influential network: Many graduates of elite colleges swear by the value of their network of campus buddies in opening doors after graduation, and say striving to gain admission to such schools is worth the effort.

So, what do you the readers think about this issue? Do you feel that the value of a college degree is suffering under these difficult economic times or do you feel that the economy is no match for the value of a college degree?

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Comments

  • Old Timer

    A college education is for sanitizing the workforce. It is another way of screening applicants and culling the herd.

    Having a degree doesn’t guarantee a successful career or a good life.

    It’s not worth a lifetime of debt.

  • Felicia

    It depends on what you get a degree in. I saw a tv special about all these big time college graduates, who were in line trying to get Walmart jobs. There was one guy who says all of his friends put him down for attending trade school to be an auto mechanic, and now he makes more money than all his friends with their so called big time degrees, who had to move back in with mommy and daddy because they can’t find a job. Think about it, you graduate from college, your $50k plus in debt and your clamoring for a $10 an hour job??? I’m not saying colleg is a bad thing, just make sure that whatever you major in is something relevant. One girl on the show is $80k in debt from college loans and hasn’t been able to find a job. She say’s she should have followed her heart and went to hair school…makes you think!!

  • Tashi

    I think the value has gone down!! I’m pursuing a Masters degree because making $12 an hour isn’t logically when I have to pay over 100k in loans! Something has to change. Kanye West said it best in College Dropout! Who cares about a degree when you don’t have any money to support yourself? Maybe with this Masters I can start at $15/hour….

  • Aunt Viv

    I think a college degree will always be valuable. It may not always be quantifiable in terms of salary, but the educational and relationship experiences while there make it worthwhile.

    I may still be paying off my school loans, but the friendships I made and the discovery of my career while there, are priceless.

  • Carmen

    HOWARD UNIVERSITY!!! The best of the best!

  • Man, I just don't care™

    Having a degree doesn’t make you “educated.” Like others said, a college degree has become a caste system.

  • Old Timer

    I think that the most important thing for people to answer is why do you want to go to college.

    If you want to go for a job or a certain career, you will be disappointed.

    If you want to go because you want to make a lot of money, you’re going to be very very disappointed.

    If you go to college because you want to be paid and treated equally to whites in the workplace, that ain’t happening ever.

    College is used as a screening device to keep certain people out. Usually the poor and the really dumb. That’s all.

  • Old Timer

    Having a $100,000 worth of student loans is like having a house note.

  • Sydney™

    I read a sobering article recently in the NY Times about the troubles that college-educated African Americans — including those with two or more degrees — are having finding jobs in this still sluggish economy. Even the attainment of education at some of the nation’s toniest universities has not completely leveled the playing field for blacks, who have been disproportionately impacted by the recession. Some job-seekers are even deliberately disguising their racial identity to try to gain a foot in the door.

    @Aunt Viv

    “I think a college degree will always be valuable. It may not always be quantifiable in terms of salary, but the educational and relationship experiences while there make it worthwhile.”

    Agreed.

  • Sydney™

    A sample stat from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

    College-educated black men, especially, have struggled relative to their white counterparts in this downturn, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for black male college graduates 25 and older in 2009 has been nearly twice that of white male college graduates — 8.4 percent compared with 4.4 percent.

  • no-body cares

    A degree from a top school will always be valued, plus these schools have better alumni networks and thus will keep you connected. If you don’t go to a top 50 undergrad (as per US news), a top 10 liberal arts college, or Howard/Spelman/Morehouse/Hampton (possibly Xavier/Fisk/FAMU) (sorry, but just about every other HBCU is worthless), then you more than likely are wasting money.

  • Mock

    I’m in college now and it’s a bore!!! Matter of fact, I suppose to be writing a research paper now, but I can’t concentrate. What college has taught me is to “try” to think before I speak (well not on here) and I think it will help me be a better parent to my child

  • Sydney™

    @Old Timer

    “The thing now is that there are too many college graduates for the number of jobs that TRULY require a degree.”

    True, it’s a horrible time to be a new college graduate searching for your first job. The economy is so dire that it is projected that this will affect generations for years to come because of the dearth of opportunities. People with multiple degrees are having to move back in with their parents, take hourly jobs, etc.

  • Is It 5:00 o'clock yet? I'm ready to go home

    This article and the comments have really rooted in my mind that I am better off attending community college and pursuing an associate degree in Echocardiography. I rather pay a minimum of about $2,000 for 2 1/2 years than almost $50,000 for 4 years.

    A lot of people at my school are shocked that I am only going to a junior college rather than a university; however, they are going to soon figure out why I chose this route.

  • http://www.k.com noelle

    Shit, even a high school diploma or G.E.D is imperative. You know, you cannot work at McDonald’s without one. My mom tells me the strangest things, smh.

  • http://www.k.com noelle

    Is It 5:00 o’clock yet? I’m ready to go home

    12/16/09, 13:30:pm

    This article and the comments have really rooted in my mind that I am better off attending community college and pursuing an *****ociate degree in Echocardiography. I rather pay a minimum of about $2,000 for 2 1/2 years than almost $50,000 for 4 years.

    A lot of people at my school are shocked that I am only going to a junior college rather than a university; however, they are going to soon figure out why I chose this route.

    F that, I went to a junior college, and felt lame. Once I got into an actual university, I got the real “college” feel, and my grades soared.

  • IllWIll

    Ha Thats funny cause me myself am an accountant and I dont have a degree but i did go to college not for accounting though , but some how I’ve been working at my job for 2 years and it always passes through my mind that a person with a degree just wasted their time cause im doing their job without the degree. IT’S NOT WHAT YOU KNOW IT’S WHO YOU KNOW.PEACE

  • Sydney™

    On a side note, I just read that the Harvard Graduate School of Education is offering a new, tuition-free doctoral degree to help produce leaders to transform the nation’s public education system. Considering the soaring cost of college tuition, it’s certainly worth a look for those interested in the field.

  • Esquire

    College is all about making the right choice. I stayed in state to attend college for free (forgoing partial scholarships to Georgetown, UVA, and Emory). I had a mentor that told me to save your money for grad school. I ended up going to law school, having entered with no undergraduate debt. Although I now have approximately 75k in debt, I also make well over 100k/year. So not only will I be able to pay the 75k back in a relatively short time (i.e. less than the traditional 30 yrs), I have more than enough money to pay my loans, own a home, a nice car, a sizeable savings account, etc. It’s really just about making the right choice. I am in the same position with people who chose to go to private institutions –same career path, same law school –but about 100-200k less in debt.

  • Aunt Viv

    @ Old Timer,

    “The thing now is that there are too many college graduates for the number of jobs that TRULY require a degree.

    So, you end up having tons of college educated people with no place for them to go except to be underemployed or overqualified.”
    _______________________________________________
    This is a good point. But in your opinion, do you think it’s better to just skip college altogether? Wouldn’t that make your odds even worse?

    The reason I ask is because even 10 years ago when I graduated college, there were too many graduates, so the playing field was pretty even. As a black woman, I knew I was already at a disadvantage, so my solution was to go for MBA, which I got 2 years later. I firmly believe that helped in improving my career odds, and obtaining a higher salary. Yes, I have school loans, but I am more than able to pay them.

  • Caramel Cat™

    I think the recession is revealing how much a college degree is almost worthless these days. Too many people have them and the competition is similar to folks with high school diplomas. It is helpful to get advanced degrees and talk to the right people. I see degrees as that proof that you can start something and finish it, that’s all employers are wanting to see. It’s also not the best idea to get a degree in sociology or history unless you are planning to be a professor in these fields and/or go to law school etc. Get a degree in something marketable that many companies will find as an asset.

    Like Aunt Viv said though, the college experience (outside of the classroom) is something that I wouldn’t trade in for the world. It’s taught me so much about life and the friendships have lasted strong beyond that…

  • Aunt Viv

    I realize that it’s not always a guarantee, but then again, nothing is absolute.

  • MrTavMarie

    I think it’s a valuable asset. I’m graduating this saturday with my B.S in Mechanical Engineering. I’m completely aware than I’m graduating into a recession. I know it’s gonna be very difficult. I just know that I have to keep trying to look for a job in my field and paying off my student loans (about 20k). But a degree will always be meaningful, in terms of just being educated, and finding better paying jobs (yes depending on what degree you have).

  • Aunt Viv

    Good afternoon Caramel Cat and Sydney by the way!

  • Somali Ninga

    education should be a right not a priviledge!! It shouldnt cost thousands of dollars and increase over time, especially in a recession!!
    In Ontario, the premier(like a governor for americans) is increasing the tuition fee by $1000 for Ontraio univerisites!! BULL§HIT!!!!!

    I agree w/ Man, I just don’t care™

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