As deadlines for early admission programs approach, it may be worth it to ask yourselves what you want from college. A massive amount of data shows that people with degrees out earn those without them. In that sense, going to college seems to be a sound investment. (I must add, though, that my father is a financial planner, and works every day with people who operate forklifts or work on plumbing who will retire long before I do.)
James Fallows has written about the ageless conundrums faced by college students–and the parents who bankroll them–for decades. He’s posting a series of responses to questions about the value of college on his blog. The difficulty lies in balancing the cost of the education you want against the prospect of future earnings. That’s why graduates in medical fields rack up more college debt than anyone else–they can be assured they’ll get a good return on their investment.
And beyond the issue of cost, you have the issue of pragmatism: is a degree merely a credential–a precursor for some entry level job–or should it reflect a specialized interest of ability, or both? I suspect that all these questions have answers that shift like sandbars. However, since y’all are about to take those courses, and accumulate those debts, it would be wise to contemplate your responses to them.