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Is it worth it to go to college?

The Giant Noodle

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Daunting debt makes some wary of higher education



Wracked by recession, choked with debt and uncertain about the future, more Americans are asking: Is college worth it?
The question is understandable. Private college tuition and fees have risen 70 percent over the past decade, according to the College Board. That is more than twice the rate of inflation. Public college tuition and fees have doubled in the same timeframe.
But while college debt has proven a financial chokehold for some people, a four-year degree is still great insurance, especially in a tough job market: The unemployment rate for people with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 4.5 percent in July, compared to 10.1 percent for those with only a high school diploma.
Perhaps the greatest lesson of the Great Recession isn't that you shouldn't go to college, but that you should approach it like you would any other investment: with caution.

“It’s a very risky investment,” said Laurence Kotlikoff, an economics professor at Boston University and president of Economic Security Planning Inc., which makes financial planning software.
Calculations done by Kotlikoff for msnbc.com suggest that attending a public college might make more financial sense than a private college. Private schools charge $26,300 a year on average, compared with $7,000 for in-state students at public, four-year schools, according to the College Board.


CONTINUED: Is it worth it to go to college? - Business - Personal finance - msnbc.com
 

RightinNYC

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Most colleges are not worth it for most people. It's good to see that more and more are waking up to this.
 

WingsOfDesire

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I was sitting next to a guy at a ball game a week or so ago, and we were talking about this and that, when he mentions that when he went to East Carolina in the 80s (85 I think), his tuition was like 300 bucks a a semester. Maybe it was even less than that. Tuition at my school is 26k a year if you're not on scholarships at all (thankfully I'm not one of those). I'm one of those private universities though.

Interesting article though, I wish more people would start looking at these tuition/book rates etc more closely. I could spend a thousand bucks easily a semester on books if I went and got every single one at the bookstore on campus. Then you get halfway through a semester to find out you don't need the useless thing. Ok, well you try to return it at the end of the semester, but your $160 2009 book is now $4 because they came out with an "updated version" (<-- biggest scam in all of college)

I think it all comes back to being smart about how you go to school. Some people just out of school now are wishing they were still in it so they wouldn't have to deal with the job market out there. They're just trying to find whatever they can now. Criminal Justice majors are finding that police forces are laying off, not hiring... same with teachers and all manner in between
 

UtahBill

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A degree that doesn't lead to a good paying job is almost worthless...
I made more money as a reactor operator and Instrument technician than a lot of people with degrees. There are auto mechanics, trained in high schools, making some very good money. The military trained me, so I was paid/fed/housed while getting my technical education. There is almost always an opportunity for good training at very low cost, but colleges gets all the hype.
 

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It's only worth it to go to college if you are entering a professional, very specified, or lucrative career. Accounting, engineering, medicine, law, and others of this type still make it.

However, if you want to do 90% of other vocations, you're much better off just entering the workforce at the first possible moment, and for many reasons:

1. If it comes down to hiring someone with a 4 year degree in the field or 4 years experience, experience will win out every time. Every time.
2. Entering your field fresh out of high school allows you to be paid an initially lower wage, but with the ability to increase salary demand over time. Conversely, college grads automatically enter the work force with a higher minimum salary to offset opportunity costs levied from going to school instead of working full-time, in addition to paying off thousands upon thousands of borrowed money.
3. Control/attitude - college grads will often want or even demand respect from potential employers that reflect 4 years of dedication in an institute of higher learning. 18 year old high school grads will, generally, be more than happy to be the gopher, the low rung, the deepest valley where all the crap running downstream collects. This is also why college grads can't even go for jobs they are overqualified for. Employers for jobs that don't require that degree will not only think it to be a waste of time and money to train, but that the college grad employee will be resentful for having to take a job that is clearly beneath them, and most times they would be right.

Fields that literally have a crowding out effect sans a degree are about the only things to focus on in college. If you try to major in any of a plethora of humanities and social sciences, be prepared to flip burgers for years to come.
 

American

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Most colleges are not worth it for most people. It's good to see that more and more are waking up to this.
The real problem is that colleges have been forced for some time to teach students what they should have learned in high school. They are providing remedial services because of the piss poor public education developed by the teachers' unions. Private companies realize that most high school grads are morons, and therefore seek out college grads to get what they need. Don't believe me, visit any McDonalds or dept store. Add that to the fact that the US has a horrible trade/technical school system and you have a recipe for failure for the average citizen.
 

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There is a private school by me, which I sure as hell will not be attending..30,000 a year for a school that instills Christian values into you. My friend went there and got kicked out for pornography, 30,000 a year and then they wish to exert that kind of control on you?

Anyways, I am going to community college..Financial it's the best route. 20,000 a year vs. 4,000 a year?
 

American

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There is a private school by me, which I sure as hell will not be attending..30,000 a year for a school that instills Christian values into you. My friend went there and got kicked out for pornography, 30,000 a year and then they wish to exert that kind of control on you?

Anyways, I am going to community college..Financial it's the best route. 20,000 a year vs. 4,000 a year?
That's why it's a private college.
 

UtahBill

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The real problem is that colleges have been forced for some time to teach students what they should have learned in high school. They are providing remedial services because of the piss poor public education developed by the teachers' unions. Private companies realize that most high school grads are morons, and therefore seek out college grads to get what they need. Don't believe me, visit any McDonalds or dept store. Add that to the fact that the US has a horrible trade/technical school system and you have a recipe for failure for the average citizen.
Maybe where you are, but my experience is that our trade schools are excellent, except for the ones that open their doors, collect tuition, then disappear, leaving the student out of money and no training. I agree that our high schools are turning out too many barely educated students. I know of one in Idaho, where we lived for awhile, that had an honor roll that pretty much included all the average and below students. They also had a high honor roll, which meant something. Seems too many parents objected to their kids not making the honor roll, so the school came up with a 2 tiered system. More than a few of those kids started college in remedial classes...
 

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Most colleges are not worth it for most people. It's good to see that more and more are waking up to this.
you don't think so? here i am trying to convince my kids of just the opposite.
 

randel

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you don't think so? here i am trying to convince my kids of just the opposite.
at my work, we just had a kid quit...this kid is the son of one of the guys on my shift, and the kid decided that he much preferred college to working 40++ hours a week plus saturdays.....i say good for him, stay in school , learn a trade/or skill
 

liblady

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at my work, we just had a kid quit...this kid is the son of one of the guys on my shift, and the kid decided that he much preferred college to working 40++ hours a week plus saturdays.....i say good for him, stay in school , learn a trade/or skill
lol....or he's lazy. my son has to work full time and go to school.
 

RightinNYC

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you don't think so? here i am trying to convince my kids of just the opposite.
Paying $45,000 a year to study Feminist Critical Theory at Vassar = Not worth it.
Paying $45,000 a year to study Physics at Princeton = Worth it.
Paying $25,000 a year to study anything at local non-elite private college = Not worth it.
Paying $12,000 a year to study a real subject at Big State U = Worth it.
Paying $4k a year to study a real subject at local CC = Worth it.

All this assumes that the student wants to work in a field that requires a 4 year degree. Also, if the student wants to go to a professional/graduate school, it's much better to save your money on the UG degree because it's essentially meaningless.

I know huge numbers of kids who took out hundreds of grand in debt (or had their parents pay) so they could go to a private school and major in the same bull**** they could have majored in at CUNY or SUNY.
 
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tacomancer

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My stock advice about college is to go a 2 year and get a tech school grant (most states offer one), which will nullify tuition and book costs. Learn a subject, than go to college to finish up the core. You can graduate with very little debt.
 

RightinNYC

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at my work, we just had a kid quit...this kid is the son of one of the guys on my shift, and the kid decided that he much preferred college to working 40++ hours a week plus saturdays.....i say good for him, stay in school , learn a trade/or skill
If colleges still taught trades or skills, this would work. I only know a few people who actually learned things in college that prepared them for the workforce.
 

liblady

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Paying $45,000 a year to study Feminist Critical Theory at Vassar = Not worth it.
Paying $45,000 a year to study Physics at Princeton = Worth it.
Paying $25,000 a year to study anything at local non-elite private college = Not worth it.
Paying $12,000 a year to study a real subject at Big State U = Worth it.
Paying $4k a year to study a real subject at local CC = Worth it.

All this assumes that the student wants to work in a field that requires a 4 year degree. Also, if the student wants to go to a professional/graduate school, it's much better to save your money on the UG degree because it's essentially meaningless.

I know huge numbers of kids who took out hundreds of grand in debt (or had their parents pay) so they could go to a private school and major in the same bull**** they could have majored in at CUNY or SUNY.

agreed.....however, professional fields require degrees, and gone are the days where one could start as a clerk and work their way up. you're not advocating no college, you're advocating sensibly priced degrees.
 

Hoplite

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A lot of the reason college is becoming less worth it is because more and more people can go to college and get degrees, more degrees means the less valuable one becomes.

When I was in high school, the question all the counselors asked was not "what do you want to do after high school?" but "what college do you want to go to?" When I responded that I didnt want to go to college, they looked confused and said "Oh, so you want to go to COMMUNITY college THEN transfer to a four year, ok!" It just wasnt treated as even an option to do ANYTHING except go to college.

I actually got in trouble for giving counselors "attitude" when I insisted I didnt want to go to college.
 

RightinNYC

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agreed.....however, professional fields require degrees, and gone are the days where one could start as a clerk and work their way up. you're not advocating no college, you're advocating sensibly priced degrees.
I'm advocating no college or a basic two year degree/skilled certificate for large portions of the population. Something like 28% of adults have 4 year degrees. That means that the vast majority of people working today are in fields where it's not required. You don't need a four year degree to become a plumber or electrician, and I'd say that either of those jobs is preferable to most "professional" work in an office setting.
 

rivrrat

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It's really only worth it if you're going into a field that requires it, like engineering, medicine, law.
 

VanceMack

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Daunting debt makes some wary of higher education

“It’s a very risky investment,” said Laurence Kotlikoff, an economics professor at Boston University and president of Economic Security Planning Inc., which makes financial planning software.
Calculations done by Kotlikoff for msnbc.com suggest that attending a public college might make more financial sense than a private college. Private schools charge $26,300 a year on average, compared with $7,000 for in-state students at public, four-year schools, according to the College Board.


CONTINUED: Is it worth it to go to college? - Business - Personal finance - msnbc.com
Depends on what you are going to college for. if you are going for a liberal arts degree in Polysci...probably not. If you are going for a math, english, history or literature degree and dont plan to be a teacher, probably not. But if you plan on working in fields where you use your head more than your hands and plan to make significant money then the answer is probably yes. Ive not seen recent studies but the earnings disparity between HS diploma and college graduates is typically pretty significant. Trade colleges are a decent option but those bull**** ITT tech, massage therapy institute, chef schools, CSI academies are all pretty much bull****. Heres a hint...if they are giving away a free laptop or if they have the sentence "we guarantee every student will pass"...run...
 

RightinNYC

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Depends on what you are going to college for. if you are going for a liberal arts degree in Polysci...probably not. If you are going for a math, english, history or literature degree and dont plan to be a teacher, probably not. But if you plan on working in fields where you use your head more than your hands and plan to make significant money then the answer is probably yes. Ive not seen recent studies but the earnings disparity between HS diploma and college graduates is typically pretty significant. Trade colleges are a decent option but those bull**** ITT tech, massage therapy institute, chef schools, CSI academies are all pretty much bull****. Heres a hint...if they are giving away a free laptop or if they have the sentence "we guarantee every student will pass"...run...
The earning disparities between levels of education is probably less of a reflection of the intrinsic value of those degrees and more of a reflection of the type of person that chooses to place himself into each category.
 

VanceMack

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The earning disparities between levels of education is probably less of a reflection of the intrinsic value of those degrees and more of a reflection of the type of person that chooses to place himself into each category.
mox nix...

All I know is if you dont have certain degrees you dont get in certain doors. Right or wrong, regardless of it means anything about the individuals qualifications to DO the job...you cant DO the job if you dont HAVE the job.
 

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you don't think so? here i am trying to convince my kids of just the opposite.
I honestly wouldn't ever advise kids to go to college. Who the **** really knows what they want to do FOREVER at the age of 18? Not anyone I know. People end up in jobs they thought they would like, but hate. Your interests change, your priorities change. Things you like at 18, you aren't necessarily going to like later.

I'd be more likely to advise folks to live a little, find out what you like, what you're good at before putting yourself into debt to get some degree you may never use. Why waste the time and money? Learn more about yourself before committing time and money to such an endeavor.

How many ****ing college kids are just picking something to major in because they have to? A ****load. When I was in college, kids were picking majors because it was required they pick one. We'd sit around and talk about "maybe I'll do this, or maybe i'll do that", Or... "I'd like to major in xyz but all the psych classes are full for the next 3 semesters". They were changing majors based on what classes were more readily available. They were going to college because they thought they SHOULD, because they were pressured by family, not because they WANTED to. Not because they actually had a goal in mind. IMO, that's just nonsense. Tell them to save the money and wait until they have a better idea what they might want to do.
 
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UtahBill

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Depends on what you are going to college for. if you are going for a liberal arts degree in Polysci...probably not. If you are going for a math, english, history or literature degree and dont plan to be a teacher, probably not. But if you plan on working in fields where you use your head more than your hands and plan to make significant money then the answer is probably yes. Ive not seen recent studies but the earnings disparity between HS diploma and college graduates is typically pretty significant. Trade colleges are a decent option but those bull**** ITT tech, massage therapy institute, chef schools, CSI academies are all pretty much bull****. Heres a hint...if they are giving away a free laptop or if they have the sentence "we guarantee every student will pass"...run...
ask the school recruiter a lot of questions, and get their promises in writing....
It the school won't take payments, like real colleges do, a semester at a time, run....
If you can make payments, but you later quit, or they disappear, and you remain obligated for the entire tuition anyway, run....
If you borrow via a govt program, and pay the school all of it in advance the school disappears, you will have the govt on your back for the rest of your life.
If they want $60-70K for a "degree" or certificate that the military can provide for free, consider the military. Great place to start, and home of the best tech schools in the USA...yeah, you will owe them a few years, but it is most definitely worth it...

A lot of states have govt owned and run schools for tech careers, they would be the first choice.
 

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Paying $4k a year to study a real subject at local CC = Worth it.
+1000

Smart money gets the associates degree at a CC before moving on to a 4-year institution if they are going to anything less than an elite school (or a science major, then it might be a little trickier). Then move on to a state school for the Bachelors.

I'm getting my Masters now at a state school and this first year cost me less than 6K for the fall, spring and summer semesters combined. The whole program will cost less than 13K.

When all is said and done, I'll have gotten my Associates, Bachelors and Masters for less that 35K I think.

If I get the grants I expect to get for my PhD, I'll have my doctorate for only a small bit more.
 
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