If we needed proof that the shape of our economy has changed over the last ten years and that attending college has become a questionable investment, the Census Bureau has released numbers to back up our economic concerns.
The report showed that a college education still earns more than a high school diploma. Of adults in their 20s, the poverty rate was 8 percent in 2010 for those with a college degree, and 23 percent for those with a high school diploma. Even though the poverty rate has grown 2 percentage points for college grads since 2002, it increased by 6 percent for those holding a high school diploma.
However, many students aren’t convinced that having a college degree is the answer to their problems in this economy. Many college students are now asking themselves, is college really worth the investment? The Census shows that an average American family income is around where it was in 1996 once adjusted for inflation. Still, the tuition for a public 4-year college is 1.8 times as high as it was in 1996 — after being adjusted for inflation.
As technology becomes more integrated in our lives and knowledge isn’t limited only to those who attend universities, young entrepreneurs have proven they can drop out of college with a million-dollar idea and start a successful career for themselves. One size doesn’t fit all for most things in our lives and it’s true of higher education as well. Some students should go directly into the workforce, some to vocational school, some to 2-year colleges, some to 4-year colleges. Students should be encouraged to explore what option is best for them, but they shouldn’t have to make the decision based on whether they can afford higher education or not.
A student who plans for college, is educated about paying back their loans, and who is attending college to pursue their career dreams should graduate from college feeling accomplished, prepared for the workforce, and in control of their finances. LifeBound’s MAJORING IN THE REST OF YOUR LIFE and DOLLARS & SENSE: HOW TO BE SMART ABOUT MONEY give students the skills they need to get prepared — socially, emotionally, and financially — for college, career, and life. Don’t let the state of the economy step on students’ dreams of furthering their education. Give them the tools they need to succeed.
“What the Lost Decade of Wages Means for Colleges and Their Graduates,” by Jeff Selingo. 19 September 2011. Huffington Post. 20 September 2011. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-selingo/what-the-lost-decade-of-w_b_970475.html>