Weighing the Value of That College Diploma


As millions of students assess college applications this month—and in light of our country’s recession—they and their parents are thinking harder about how much tuition they’re willing to pay. Skepticism over the value of a college degree has dropped the number of students willing to borrow money for college from 67% to 53%, according to a survey of 800 college students by Sallie Mae, Reston, Virginia. Here are additional statistics from this report:

• College graduates generally earn at least 60% more than high-school grads (annually and over their lifetime) – 2007 report by the College Board, New York.
• College graduates participate more in their communities. They are twice as likely to volunteer and donate blood than high-school graduates – 2007 report by the College Board, New York.
• College graduates are generally healthier. They are less likely to smoke and more likely to exercise daily – 2007 report by the College Board, New York.
• A 2005 survey by the Pew Research Center reported that of 3,014 adults, 42% of college graduates reported being very happy while only 30% off high-school graduates reported being very happy.

For those who want to analyze the cost-to-income ratio further, there is a new online calculator, HumanCapitalScore.com, that predicts how much money a student is likely to make after graduation. But here’s the really important point to remember: No matter what students are paying for college, it’s more important what they do while they’re in school than where they go. Many people assume that going to a prestigious school automatically assures success in a given profession or vocation, but this isn’t necessarily true unless you have experiences and personal qualities to match what employers need. Whether you’re paying $100,000 at a big name school versus $14,000 a year at a vocational or state school, learning how to take measured risks, demonstrate resilience in the face of obstacles and develop your network and team work skills, are the abilities and qualities that the 21st century marketplace and the world value, in addition to knowledge. Success in life is about the choices you make while in school to stretch yourself that really matter in the bigger picture of college and career success. Here are questions for students:

What kind of network are you developing and who are the people you’re aligning yourself with that can help you create opportunities?

What kind of choices are you making about internships and other activities that show employers your potential and help you find your unique niche in the world?

What are you willing to do to make yourself stand out and develop 21st Century skills, regardless of where you go to school?


The Wall Street Journal
DECEMBER 16, 2009
Weighing the Value of That College Diploma

As millions of students labor over college applications this month, they and their parents are pondering just how big a tuition bill they want to pay.

Students are increasingly skeptical about the value of a college degree; the proportion who are willing to borrow money for college if necessary has fallen to 53% from 67% in the past year, based on a survey of 800 college students by Sallie Mae, Reston, Va.

Parents are thinking harder, too, about why they sign big tuition checks, based on a steady stream of email I have received since writing about the college cost-to-value equation a few months ago. Here is a look at a few perspectives on the issue:

To view this entire article visit www.wsj.com

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