Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Is college worth it?

Is college worth it? -- chicagotribune.com

This is a great article in that it brings home something that many educators have been saying for years, "Why go to college"?

This isn't to say, at the article also states, that there aren't great reasons to go to college, including broadening horizons, meeting people from diverse backgrounds, and a little something called education. However, the return on investment isn't what it once was. They often cite salaries of people who go into business-related fields, but not those in social services. Those in business are easily making $50,000+ relatively soon after graduate. They will pay off their debts. Those other professions, though, make much less and will likely need to get advanced degrees to bridge the gap even slightly.

We need students to begin making these calculations on their own. Return on investment isn't just about money, but to be in debt for 20 years is a terrible existence. This is beginning to drive lower-cost alternatives and will change the educational landscape over the next decade (yes, that soon).

As I near the end of my formal education (I swear I'm done after this phd), I have to say that it's been pretty good to me. I'm comfortable, I'm saving a little money, and I have a generally rosy outlook on life. In order to get this, though, I've had to go through years of graduate studies that was bartered with office and teaching work at the universities I attended.

I wish someone had sat me down when I was 17 and laid this out for me. I can't say that I would have done anything differently (I just wanted to party after high school and college was the best place to do it), but it might have saved me (more so my parents) a little money by making different decisions. By the time my own son is preparing for post K-12 life, I don't even think this will be an issue. It will be part of a well-worn system by then. At least I hope so. Having 2 of "the talks" is just too much.

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