Mar
27

Is College Really Worth It?

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Many disillusioned college graduates are asking the question these days: Is college really worth it?

With one of the latest studies claiming that more than 73% of college grads are forced to accept job positions well below their educational level and salary expectations, it’s becoming increasingly clear that college can no longer be legitimately  touted as a guaranteed path to success.

The first thing I’d like to state is that I’m not against traditional education. I was valedictorian of my high school and got a good solid B average in college. What I am against is an unwarranted and relentless frenzy of misguided voices telling you how important it is to get a college education. Then they railroad you or your kids into crippling debt with little chance of it paying off with increased job prospects and salary increases.

Let’s take a more realistic look at what you can expect when going the traditional route towards higher education.

Benefits of Traditional Education

Well, there’s no question you’ll learn how to drink and socialize . . . no doubt about that. You’ll also earn an appreciation for beer economics, concert ticket scalping and class scheduling based on start times of noon or later and at most two sessions a week.

Night class at a typical 4 year college

Night class at a typical 4 year college

According to an article in “The Economic Collapse” “Most college courses are so easy they could be passed by the family dog…..A college education can be a wonderful thing, but right now we have got a system that is deeply, deeply broken.” Take a look at their article “20 Completely Ridiculous College Courses”

Ridiculous College Courses 

Now that may sound a little outrageous, and admittedly there are many schools that give high quality and required training for certain professions. The point I’m trying to make is that in this tough economy do you really want to pay a fortune and blow 4 to 10 years or more to come out with tons of debt you can’t get out of and few job prospects?

Advance Degrees are Not Exempt

I remember seeing a cartoon once that was set in an employment office. The caption read, “We have tons of BA’s, MBA’s, Ph.D.’s and JD’s. What we need is a good body and fender man.” This sentiment of having a skill that an employer actually wants, or a marketable service allowing you to start your own business couldn’t be more true today.

You better approach your advanced degree with an even bigger “degree” of skepticism. Class action suits are being filed all over the country by students who are claiming their institution purposely and fraudulently overhyped their job prospects when they graduate as well as inflated the success rates of past graduates.

You tell me if you think it’s ok if a law school boasts that “the overwhelming majority of its students — 90-95 percent — secure employment within nine months of graduation.” Seems OK to say such a thing doesn’t it?

According to a suit filed against New York Law School (NYLS), “The reality of the situation is that these seemingly robust numbers include any type of employment, including jobs that have absolutely nothing to do with the legal industry, do not require a JD degree or are temporary or part-time in nature.”

Now what do you think? Would you be willing to plunk down the $50,000.00 a year tuition if the above claim against the school was true?

Well NYLS dodged a bullet and got off with a dismissal and a little finger wagging from their brethren judges, http://abovethelaw.com/2012/12/breaking-dismissal-of-class-action-suit-against-new-york-law-school-is-affirmed/ but it’s pretty clear to me and some of the other judges involved in the case that this entire situation looks a little shaky.

Do you think all the other bloated colleges with rising tuitions and Tenured professors who couldn’t care less if you get a job or not, but need to get paid are above fudging the job prospect figures just a little? I certainly don’t and I’ve seen plenty of MBA’s working at Starbucks.

Student Debt Crisis

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the cost of a college education is increasing by two to three times the overall rate of inflation. College costs are rising even faster than the cost of medical care.

Estimates for college loan debt per student run all across the board. A 2012 study by The Institute for College Access & Success showed the average debt for undergrad school was $29,400.00. Another average for the top ten most expensive schools went as high as $49,400.00. BusinessWeek reported that “Median debt loads for graduate school borrowers increased to $57,600 in 2012”,….with law school grads hitting a whopping $140,616.00

Even considering the fact you have to die or leave the country to get out of paying off your student loans, defaults are high everywhere especially in the “for profit” sector where I’m located. I think there are several reasons for this. 1. High pressure sales tactics are used to enroll students that shouldn’t be enrolled in the first place, and 2. Poor quality training is common in the “for profit” sector so  the student doesn’t really have marketable skills when they graduate.

I don’t think it is fair to claim that a higher percentage of defaults are to blame on the fact that the colleges are “for profit”. I think the playing field is balanced when you consider for the past 50 years parents and children have been brainwashed into thinking a college education is the end all/ be all for your career prospects. With this ingrained attitude people begrudgingly pay off their student loans from traditional institutions and blame themselves or the job market when they find themselves stocking shelves at Walmart.

The Argument for Skills Based Schools

It all boils down to money doesn’t it? In many cases a person could opt for a 4 year college, rack up significant family and personal debt, be exposed to useless classes that pretty much fritter away their time and get out with no better job prospects than the auto body mechanic mentioned in the cartoon above. AND if he does get employed doing anything, he sends a large chunk of his paycheck to pay off loans for years and years. . . . All in the name of the social experience of college. OR,

This person could take a practical approach by going to a skills based school in a profession that virtually guarantees employment. In this case debt is minimal or non-existent, additional housing and living costs are cut by 75% (by 100% if it’s a distance learning school), income is generated within six months to a year and the job prospects are known to be legitimately high.

VocationalSchoolsCNBC

Which situation would you rather be in? Let’s think about this in the context of the social experience and personality rounding you get at college which is frequently one of the benefits listed for attending. Let’s use Starbucks as an example. What will people think of you if you are 16 years old and working at Starbucks? . . . No one will really think twice about this will they? They’ll think, “Hey, that’s great!. You’re working and getting good tips. That’s awesome!” You’re young. You’ve got spending money. You feel great and on your way up with the entire world ahead of you.

Now let’s flip this. You’ve graduated college (or even worse grad school) and you’re working at Starbucks…Don’t get me wrong, any work is honorable, but how will people think of you now, or more importantly how will you think about yourself?

You’ll most likely be tight on cash because you’re paying off your student loans. You won’t have a cool and reliable car. You’ll be tight on time because between working shifts you’ll be trying to squeeze in interviews (if you haven’t given up yet). You’ll be embarrassed when applying at a big company with your MBA to tell them that you’re slinging coffee for a living, staying in your parent’s home and generally life will probably not be a bowl of cherries. The only good thing is that you can reminisce about all the fun you had in college and the wild drinking parties you had and how great it was to sleep in every day.

The Stepchild Gets the Spoils

CNBC did an article on Vocational Schools http://www.cnbc.com/id/40680866 “Call them vocational schools, trade schools or technical schools—it doesn’t much matter. Once considered the poor stepsister to traditional four-year, liberal arts institutions of higher education and a refuge for second-tier students, they’re now at the forefront of preparing students for a 21st century workforce.”

If you recall, Cinderella the “poor stepsister” is the one who got the spoils. She was not the most flashy or the most fun in the beginning, but she got the Prince and the keys to the kingdom.

Take a hard look at what a skills based school can do for you. With little or no debt upon graduation and good solid job prospects (not to mention prospects of opening your own business), you will be able to  afford the things you want, feel great about yourself and have no trouble giving a nice tip to your MBA buddy at Starbucks.

If any of this resonates with you or one of  your children 15 years of age or older call me. I’m the founder, Tom Antion, and I’ll be glad to discuss a great future for you or your child.  Call my office at 757-431-1366. The Internet Marketing Training Center of Virginia http://www.IMTCVA.org is the only licensed and dedicated Distance Learning Internet marketing school in the country. (Licensed by State Council on Higher Education of Virginia SCHEV)

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Categories : Career

Comments

  1. wasserball says:

    Yes and No. The answer depends on what you use for the basis for your determination. Borrow a lot of money to get a history degree, no, but a doctor, yes.

  2. mrblastachick says:

    I had a great time in college, really enjoyed it. Sometimes I would tell myself that if I could have gotten a good salary being a professional student then that would have been a great job. I mean there’s a lot of great things about the college lifestyle. You feel like every resource there on the campus is geared towards your success, from the campus to the faculty to the library the funding etc etc. It’s all is geared towards you and your ambition. Plus you have the whole traditional thing going on. You feel a tie to the past and to history knowing how many great thinkers and people have gone down the same road and been in the same situation. Campuses are also pretty good settings as well, they’re basically like little villages. A lot of the buildings have a nice architectural style, some are old with a lot of charachter and then there will be some ultra modernistic minimal eco friendly type developments as well. There’s also something to be said about the nobility of pursuing educational goals as well. There’s a feeling on campuses that everyone there is working towards something positive and constructive. So there’s a very positive vibe on campus. There’s also a feeling of potential. People are young, and have the opportunity to pursue any number of directions – science, art, medicine, law, education, whatever…there is just a feeling of potential. There’s also a feeling of healthy competition. Not in an athletic sense, but just in life and career wise. There’s also the socialisation, which is something of a urban myth a lot of time in reality, but there’s some truth to it certainly. And the possibilities for dating are just numerous..young..smart..healthy..often nerdy..artsy..it’s all there in abundance..

    So there’s a lot of positives. But there’s also a cynical way to look at it all for sure. Often time when I’m in a pessimistic mood I’ll remark how college is the biggest scam going. You’re basically paying to play to the tune of thousands of dollars. I’ll often remark how colleges basically prey on the hopes, dreams, and ambitions of young people. For profit. It is a business. From the moment you sign up for your first class till the day you graduate and even after they are always asking you to pay. Pay for tuition, for books, they even make you pay for your diploma and your cap and gown to graduate. And after you graduate they keep sending you mail asking you for donations. So yes, pay to play. Is it worth it? I don’t know…If I spend a 1,000 dollars tuition on a couple glasses MWF, what do I get? The right to attend a powerpoint lecture with info I could find for free online or at a library? And if you’re looking to get in a graduate school like med school or other preprofessional program though where undergraduate is required then that really introduces a whole other dynamic. Take biology majors, who are all virtually studying to go into medicine. They are all trying to get 4.0 averages. So as a result, the teachers have to make their tests harder and harder because of the competition and because everyone in the class is clawing and scratching to get an A. So instead of the focus being on actual education and content the whole thing just becomes a game of “let’s make the tests as difficult as possible.” So you just end up basically figuring out how to take the instructors written tests rather than really understanding the course material itself.

    Anyways just some thoughts

    • mrblastachick says:

      Oh and also I wanted to add that now you also have a reverse age discrimination thing going on in the workplace. For assorted reasons simple and complex a lot of the older generation absolutely despise and resent young people for whatever reason. You also have a lot of people who resent education and educational degrees. It used to be an education was a valued thing by an employer and by society. Now it’s almost as if there is a lot of discrimination and prejudice towards people with an education..I’m seeing more and more that experience is seen as far more desirable than education. And it seems education is even seen sometimes as something undesirable altogether..

  3. Kenny_A (NY) says:

    I don’t doubt your assertion all. Everyone needs to reexamine their decisions regarding college education especially in the States. I’ll simply say investigate before you invest in your education.

  4. Linds says:

    It really comes down to what you are going to college for. For instance people going for Psycology are going to have a harder time getting a job in their degree after college because too many people are going for that degree and Stats of getting a job is low. But if you go for say Physics then your outlook is better,because you can actual get jobs in many places that isnt lower than your education level. Basically it comes down to what you go for. Also ask yourself is college worth it? If it is than go for it.

  5. Kama says:

    For me college worked because it wasn’t expensive like it is today and my degree was the ticket needed for a career in the Armed Services as an officer. But once I got out of the military I had to go to Law School to get a real degree to use as a tool. It couldn’t have worked out better for me. Each degree has more than paid for itself. Yes, I still have loans that I’m paying on for law school but that’s only because I’m also paying for cars, house, bills at the same time. However, I don’t recommend my route to anyone because the debt for undergrad today equals my debt for law school. If you have a plan and are going to be paying with grants and loans, go to school; if not, go to work.

  6. Monica strickland says:

    Well, to me it will all depend on what subject you take up in.

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