Time and Money

Last week, the New York Times ran an opinion piece on the increasing number of students your age who do not see college as a necessary investment. This seems particularly true for students and families whose political orientation lies to the right of center, as they see colleges as bastions of left-leaning, ivory tower academicians. (Indeed, most college professors and administrators identify as liberal.)

The other issue involves cost. Those born before 1980 and who hold college degrees have experienced a substantial return on investment for their diplomas. Those born after 1980 have not, especially if they have degrees in fields that are not STEM oriented. Why? Largely because the cost of college attendance has doubled since 1992. Salaries, on the other hand, have increased by only about 5%. For those whose political beliefs run against the liberal politics of college instructors, this adds to the disinclination to seek a four-year degree.

Public policy has also encouraged a shift towards “certification” rather than “degree.” After 18 months of training at EMCC’s Communiversity, an 18 year-old with a high school degree can earn a salary at a local manufacturer in excess of $75,000, which easily exceeds the local average. Most people can earn such certification without taking out loans.

The problem with certification, of course, is that it does not offer the kind of flexibility that a bachelor’s degree does. It will not result in admission to professional programs that result in salaries of six and seven figures. It also will not protect workers from being replaced by robots and other forms of AI.

How will you measure the success of your college education?

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10 Responses to Time and Money

  1. priscilla garcia says:

    Personally, I think it’s okay that people my age aren’t prioritizing degrees as much as they used to. Though having a college level education is wonderful, it doesn’t guarantee you anything. You could meet all criteria for a job, have a degree, yet still lose out to someone who is simply younger than you or someone who the company thinks better fits their aesthetic. To piggyback off of the certification statement, I think it’s great that people have that opportunity readily available to them. A college education is not necessary for every field of work, and I strongly believe that for some occupations its way more important to have experience in your field than to have a degree. However, I can see and understand both sides of this argument.

  2. Carter Scaggs says:

    The rising high price in student loans is a serious problem for the United States. Attending college keeps feeling more and more like a dying past time tradition than an actual footstep in the average person’s life. There were a lot of people at my old school who did not plan on going to college, because they thought they were not “smart” or “rich” enough to attend. Whether or not the high tuition rates are a real problem, the mental challenge they present is relevant to many young people today. As for the political side, I can definitely sympathize with many independents and right-wingers who are disappointed with the number of colleges that are liberal centered, especially in places like California. It might make many people feel as if the world is against their beliefs, which can cause a lot more political unrest. I do not know any viable solutions to either of these problems, not being an economist or political scientist, but maybe we should encourage more tolerance towards non-liberals in our colleges.

  3. Ramon Munoz-Montiel says:

    The success of your college education should be measured by the amount of job opportunities it provides after graduation. In short, will getting a degree substantially increase your chances of getting a good-paying job? If the answer to the following is no, your college education is likely a waste of money.

    Many young adults decide to attend college regardless of the career they are pursuing. In truth, this is not ideal. Colleges are extremely expensive, the average cost of a 4-year career is over 100,000 dollars. So, what is the point of attending college if you want to pursue careers like cooking, art, and graphic design, among many others?
    The careers that I just listed can be mastered by self-studying and with practice. Additionally, a degree is not even needed to work in the field. You should only attend college if the job you want requires a degree. An example of this is if you want to be a surgeon. You absolutely need a degree in medicine if you want to work as a surgeon.

    In conclusion, before paying the equivalent of a house down payment to obtain a diploma, investigate the job opportunities it is going to provide. Pursue a job, not a career.

  4. Andy Chen says:

    A college education is more than a degree; this is an important distinction to make before discussing how we might measure the “success” or “impact” of a college education. As you mentioned, a bachelor’s degree still holds a certain weight that is distinguishable from a certification. Beyond this though, a good higher-level education provides people a unique opportunity to explore the diverse offerings of our modern world.

    A quote whose origin I have since forgotten goes something like like: “College is meant to prepare you against your vocation.” The message is clear. College is not about what you have learned in your major (since most students often will change their major), but about the breadth of education you have received outside of your major. A college experience is meant to expose individuals to all the knowledge the world has to offer. While a pessimist might cite the internet as offering the same knowledge, anyone who has been through an online course can understand the benefits of in-person lectures with passionate professors.

    When measuring the success of my own college education, I expect to see one of two outcomes. I will either stick to my chosen field and graduate confident in my passions, or discover something new entirely that will derail my current plans entirely. I am open to either possibility, but the key will be to get out of my comfort zone to learn more about the world and all it has to offer. The success of my college education will depend on just that.

  5. Grace Ann Courtney says:

    I completely agree with the statement that college is an investment, however, I also think that it has its own place in the lives of students and teenagers. Personally, I plan on attending a university immediately post-high school; It has just always been the plan for me. I’m lucky enough to be able to consider college a necessity. More often than not, families are not lucky enough to consider college plan A. My upbringing was in a trade-based rural town with a poverty rate of 22% and only 50% of residents having a high school degree, an even smaller amount having a college certificate. In school, I was always taught that college is not for everyone, and that’s okay. I feel that if a student is certified in a program that allows them to make a salary to live comfortably, that’s their decision to make. Without scholarships or financial aid, even a bachelor’s degree can cost an exorbitant amount of money in today’s economic climate. I think that while college should be encouraged, it should not be frowned upon if one does not have the current facilities to pursue it. I would love for everyone to have the opportunity to go to college, but that is a false reality. One of two things has to happen, tuition rates must go down or scholarship opportunities and college outreach must go up.

  6. Manpreet Singh says:

    When I think about college, I think about it as more than just a college degree. College is an investment in your future, but it is an opportunity to make lasting friendships. There are some teachers that I have met who have friends from college that they are still friends with. Many families are not fortunate enough to to attend college, and because of that it is important to make the most of it. College should not be criticized just because some people have become successful without having a college or your family does not have enough money. When I measure the success of my college, I have one career that I have chosen that I want to pursue, but that might change. I know some people who have changed their major six times, and I might want to pursue a different career and college will help me with that.

  7. Darshi says:

    College education may not be on the top of some students list, but as for me, I definitely plan on going to college after high school.
    Going to college has its disbenefits. Students may not have a large family income to support their college tuition. Tuition rates have gone up, but the number of
    scholarships being given out is far less. This does not match. If these students want to pursue getting a degree, how are they going to do that?
    Students with these limitations have other routes to go such as certification. This way they do not have to go to college, but can also get a decent paying job. This being said, if they want to go to college, why not! Taking loans or doing a job will help them get that college degree.
    I believe that doing what is the best for you, no matter what society or anyone has says, is the best way to go. Doing this also lets you love what you do and it encourages you to do more. Whether it be getting a college degree or a certification, doing what you want to do matters the most.
    As for measuring the success of my education, going to college sounds like the better option for me. To have the will to learn more things and have the confidence to express what I learned will definitely be a factor to my success.

  8. Samar Rahimi says:

    I believe that the cost of going to college is becoming a great issue. Even if students my age want to continue their education and get a degree, many of them are unable to do so due to their financial situations. Many do not see the point of wasting so much money for a degree that could leave you in student debt.

    However, having a college education and degree will give students opportunities in life that they might not have had otherwise. It is much easier to gain a good paying job and a career that you can continue to work up in. If students were to solely get a certification, though they would start off making a good amount of money, they would not be able to move up in the ranks and would be stuck in one job for the rest of their lives. A degree holds a level of validation that will allow students to thrive in the working industry, especially if said degree helps students gain jobs that are in high demand.

    Though gaining a degree will help some students in their career, there are many high paying jobs that do not need a college education. If a student would want to pursue such opportunities, then I would not see the need to get a degree. The choice on whether to go to college should be calculated on what career paths a student is interested in and what they believe would help them financially.

  9. Sebastian Harvey says:

    I’m planning on going to college for several reasons, but the main motivator is flexibility. Personally, I don’t have a specific career interest or goal in mind, so job specialization makes no sense. Instead, I hope college allows me to try out new possibilities in careers, in friends, and in experiences.

    I’m also willing to take a small hit financially, but really I think the general increasing of tuition is dependent on who you are: if you’re a wealthy person going to an expensive school, it’s going to cost a lot of money. However, I don’t think that a very good education is necessarily too expensive for the people who don’t have enough money to fit the cost-of-attendance. Although schools’ paper price has increased dramatically, there are very accessible ways to gain scholarships at schools or attend schools with a large enough endowment so they don’t rob you of everything you own. However, this is dependent on the student’s success, and obviously not everyone can go free to college, otherwise they would all be shutting down. The point is, if you’re going to MSMS, you can go to college for free and receive a good education in 99% of circumstances. The question is whether you’re willing to go to a “worse” school to take the money.

    These are three factors at play here: the gain of college, the opportunity cost of attending college (entering the job market early), and the cost of college. If you believe the gains of college are outweighed by the other two, don’t go to college. If you think college will benefit you in the long run, go to college.

    The point is, there’s no predicting the future, and you can be screwed up by either option. So pick the one that looks best for you in the long run and make the most of it; there’s no definitive answer, otherwise everyone would be doing the same thing.

  10. Jennifer Bui says:

    The success of one’s college degree is tough to measure. For one, there are numerous degrees and jobs. Some jobs require a degree and may pay more or less than jobs without one. The measurement of the success of one’s college degree should not be solely based on the person’s income. Instead, it should be the experiences they gain. College is about learning in and outside the classrooms. On top of education, the memories, experiences, and connections they gain from college can aid them in their careers.
    However, the cost of college is rising and must be considered when deciding on a career. Not everyone is fortunate enough to attend college because college acceptance rates are increasing or simply because one may want to go to college and pursue their dreams but need more funds or scholarships. College degrees also do not guarantee a job and though there is no real way to measure the success of one’s college degree, at the end of the day, people have to make the choice that is right for them.

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