Is College Worth the Time and Money? Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, has been widely recognized for his talent in creating a company that totally revolutionized the computer hardware industry. There is no doubt that he is a very successful person and his net worth confirms this. Mark Zuckerberg, who designed and created the innovative social network Facebook, is another example of vision and talent coupled with effort that translated into success. What do these men have in common? They are brilliant, worth billions of dollars and they both dropped out of college.
Even though these men did not complete their college education, they still achieved success. We love success stories. We love that in America we can start with nothing but an idea, out of the garage, and become one of the richest people in the world. These Cinderella stories however are not the rule but the exception, each is one out of a million, perhaps millions. These are they that the media likes to highlight because they are the rags-to-riches exception to the rule. There are young minds now conceiving of ideas that will make them successful beyond their dreams and we should encourage their development.
However, the reality is that there are many times more young minds that need the education that our colleges and universities can provide. Most CEOs of fortune 500 companies may never have attained that kind of success without the education behind them. They possibly wouldn’t even have been given the chance without a college degree. Of the CEOs from the top 100 of the fortune 500 list, 95 have at least an undergraduate degree with nearly half earning an advanced degree. While many are very successful without a college degree, what are the consequences of getting or not getting a degree on potential income?
Many people go to college, get into debt, work hard, and sacrifice other opportunities, but don’t end up getting the jobs they were hoping for after graduation. Earning a college degree does not guarantee a job. What are the consequences then of going to college and getting a degree? Why do people get into debt for something that does not give financial security? Is there something else that is beneficial to obtaining a college education? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate decreases on average as education increases. Additionally, earnings are also roportional to the level of education. The structural unemployment is not the entire problem that we see in our economy. Frictional unemployment accounts for a big part of the entire unemployment picture and that is because of voluntary decisions to work based on each person’s valuation of his own work and personal preferences. All things being equal, someone with a degree is more likely to be hired than an individual who is without a degree. But even those with a four-year education couldn’t use their diplomas to ward off unemployment in the recent economic downturn.
In fact, it was the educated financial and business industry that lost their jobs first. According to the most recent statistics from Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, college graduates have a lower rate of unemployment than those without a degree, with a rate of 4. 3 percent compared to 9. 5 percent for high school graduates and 13. 9 percent for those with less than a high school education (Farrell par. 8). With nearly 14 million unemployed workers in America, the Economist reports that many have gotten so desperate that they are willing to work for free.
Even though this has many legal and economical implications, this clearly shows that the weak labour market favours those who are willing to work for free and it benefits the workers because they can maintain and improve their skills while networking with potential long-term employers. Of course a bachelor’s degree is not the golden ticket to a lifestyle of the rich and famous, but according to the Pathways to Prosperity Project at Harvard Graduate School of Education, “In 1973, a high school diploma was the passport to the American Dream…72% of the workforce of 91 million had no more than a high school degree. The study goes on to say that today’s reality is much different in that “workers with a high school education or less now make up just 41% of the workforce. ” Today’s reality is much different when it comes to college as getting that education is becoming increasingly more expensive. Money is a factor, but what can someone hope to gain outside of the classroom that can help the student in the future? The chance to meet and interact with a large variety of people is sometimes only found in a college environment.
Many lifelong friendships are formed during one’s college career and the importance of networking for future opportunities cannot be overstated. Exposure to interpersonal relationships and learning how to work with others in a professional environment is very important. A college degree can say to a potential employer that you can commit to something until it is completed and that you have learned to work well and get along with others. Moreover, most four year degrees require proficiency in basic computer skills.
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have wanted to create colorful and eye-catching documents or complete a spreadsheet for business and didn’t have the necessary time to go through the learning curve of teaching myself how to perform these basic skills. Students also have access to the college or university career center that can greatly assist students to prepare and to be aware of job possibilities. Many companies go straight to colleges and universities looking for employees. How would one who isn’t in school even know about jobs that are posted at colleges?
Many job opportunities are not typically posted in the local newspaper, but instead companies will go straight to colleges and universities looking for individuals with the education to fill those positions. Furthermore, those that complete a four year college degree are more secure in their occupation as well as the income it provides. Those that enter the workforce with a Bachelors degree are more likely to keep their job even in times of economic downturn. In 2008 the unemployment rate was recorded at 2. 8 percent for those that completed a four year degree while those with only a high school diploma were recorded at 5. percent, two times greater (Hammond freebooks. uvu. edu). Moreover, those that didn’t finish high school are almost four times more likely to be laid off. This data was collected prior to the recession and the large increase in unemployment. Even with the recession those that had a degree only had an unemployment rate of 4. 6 and 4. 7 percent for 2009 and 2010 respectively (Bureau of Labor Statistics). In the same two years, those that only graduated from high school reached an unemployment rate of 9. 7 and 10. 3 percent. This in itself is reason to not only attend but complete a degree (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
As a college graduate there is more than just security in the workforce but security in your income, even in times of recession. Results show that in 2008 those that completed a degree received a monthly average income of about $3,900 as compared to just over $1,000 for high school graduates (Hammond freebooks. uvu. edu) . In 2009-10, during times of recession and then recovery, where the market was at its worst for offering laborers adequate income, college graduates received on average about $4,500 monthly while high school graduates brought in only $2,500 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Earning a college degree takes at least four years and costs thousands of dollars. It also takes a lot of time and money when it is possible to be earning a living without one. While this is true, it is also true that there’s still value in higher education. According to Chris Farrell from Bloomberg Businessweek, “the median earning of a college graduate with a BA working full-time in 2008 was $55,700. ” Even those with an Associate Degree earned $42,000 compared to $33,800 for workers with just a high-school diploma, and $24,300 for those without a high school education.
The statistics show that college graduates earn more money, but it takes money to get a degree in the first place. Students and their families look at the price tag of education, an average of $15,213 at a public institution and $35,600 for private, and decide that the cost is too much (Strauss par. 3-4). When choosing to go to college or start out in the work force, it makes more sense to begin making money rather than go into debt. However, researchers at Georgetown University Center on Education estimate that the share of jobs requiring a postsecondary degree is 59 percent, and will rise to 63 percent in the next decade.
The Public Policy Institute of California predicted that “the supply of college-educated workers won’t meet projected demand and that by 2025, “41 percent of workers in the state will need a bachelor’s degree” in the state of California. According to the predicted trends, it would be worthwhile for students to go to college. More and more workers with a college degree will be required in the work force, and if students regard an education as an investment, they will be prepared for the future. There are valid arguments for and against receiving a college education.
The idea of so much time and money spent on a degree that may not result in a job is disheartening. But in a changing world where everything is uncertain, researchers and experts agree that it is better to have a degree than not. It’s harder to be successful today than in the past without a college education, and when considering the trends and what it means for the future, it makes sense to invest in yourself through education. Every parent should encourage their child to go to college and work hard for a degree, even though it means sacrificing time and money.
Even parents who did not complete their college education and had lucrative careers have the responsibility to encourage their children to receive an education. Although a degree is not a guarantee against unemployment, it does provide a safety net and improves the chances of finding and keeping a job, even in rough economic periods. Right now, going to college seems like a daunting task, but down the road, children will thank their parents for encouraging them and for making the necessary sacrifices to enable them to earn their degree. Works Cited Billitteri, Thomas J. The Value of a College Education. ” CQ Researcher 20 Nov. 2009: 981-1004. Web. 26 Mar. 2011. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers Fourth Quarter 2010. ” News Release, 20 Jan. 2011. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. http://www. bls. gov/news. release/pdf/wkyeng. pdf Burnsed, Brian. “Where CEOs at America’s Largest Companies Went to College. ” US News 15 Nov. 2010. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. Cowen, Tyler. “Jobs don’t pay what they used to. ” The Economist. 28 Mar. 2011. Web. 28 Mar. 2011. Farrell, Chris. “A College Degree Is Still Worth It. Bloomberg Businessweek. 25 Mar. 2011. Web. 26 Mar. 2011. Hammond, Ron J. “What is the Relationship Between Education and Money. ” Intro to Sociology, 2009. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. http://freebooks. uvu. edu/SOC1010/index. php/ch14-education. html. Strauss, Valerie. “Costs of Public vs. Private College. ” Washington Post. 12 Jan. 2010. Web. 24 Mar. 2011. Symonds, William C. , Schwartz, Robert B. , Ferguson, Ronald. “Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century. ” Harvard Graduate School of Education. Feb. 2011.