The starting salary for college graduates in 2009 – 2010 was $27,000, down from $30,000 for those who entered the work force in 2006- 2008, according to a study by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Rutgers University. That’s’ a 10% decline, even before inflation.
According to a Pew Research Center Survey, over 2,100 adults felt this way about a college degree:
•Cost and Value. A majority of Americans (57%) say the higher education system in the United States fails to provide students with good value for the money. An even larger majority—75%—says college is too expensive for most Americans.
•Monetary Payoff. Adults who graduated from a four-year college believe that, they’re earning $20,000 more a year because of their degree. Non-college graduates believe they’re earning $20,000 a year less. These estimates are very close to the median gap in annual earnings between high school and college graduates, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010: $19,550.
•Student Loans. A record share of stude
nts are leaving college with substantial debt. Among those who do, about half say that paying off that debt made it harder to pay other bills; a quarter say it has made it harder to buy a home, and about a quarter say it has had an impact on their career choices.
•For Most College Graduates, Missions Accomplished. Among college graduates, 74% say their college education helped them grow intellectually; 69% say it was very useful in helping them mature as a person; and 55% say it was very useful in helping them prepare for a job or career.
In my opinion, it’s a tough call to say that a person with a college degree today is not better off than someone without one. It’s good to have a college degree for many reasons. I can qualify that statement by saying that I grew up in an age when fewer people were college bound – therefore, it was clear to all that those who were qualified to attend college, that a college degree was well worth the hard work and financial investment.
Today, one could question the value of a bachelor’s degree as it is very common. We have a massive push by the government to drive all high school graduates, stay at home moms, retired workers, etc. to pursue a college degree. Furthermore, there is evidence that, with better evaluation and preparation, many current and recent graduates would actually have faired better financially in a vocational training program, rather than a liberal arts college. On-line education further tends to “water down” the value of the traditional degree.
It’s a tough job market out there. A college degree will always better position some for fewer hard knocks and long term security. For others, the return on their investment in a college degree, especially one leveraged heavily by loans and debt, may just not be worth it.