Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Are College Degrees Worth It?

For Most? No

College has become too expensive
 ~ We always hear about the importance of getting a college degree, and how it correlates with much higher lifetime earnings. But, as the financial people are always quick to say, the past is no guarantee of future performance, and the current performance of college degrees is dismal indeed.

At left is an excerpt from an infographic from Frugal Dad on college costs. (The original is quite large, but worth looking at it; click to see in its native habitat.) Increasingly, a college education only has direct financial value if one treats it specifically as vocational training. Want to be an engineer? Got get a degree in computer science or EE. Want to study art? You're better off organizing your own reading and gallery tours, perhaps with a trip to the great museums of New York and Europe. Want to go into business? Become an entrepreneur.

College has other benefits to be sure, but the ballooning costs and the crushing debt load are not worth it for most future workers. It is no longer a ticket to the top rungs of the economic ladder. There is a bubble forming in college attendance, rising costs, and rising educational debt, which is unique in that it cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

I'm not sure when it will pop, but like any bubble, it eventually must.

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