Is College “Worth It?”

In a recent article by Jeffery J. Selingo, written in the Wall Street Journal (April 30, 2013), the idea of whether or not college is “worth it” is discussed in “The Diploma’s Vanishing Value.” Mr. Selingo wrote:

“With unemployment among college graduates at historic highs and outstanding student-loan debt at $1 trillion, the question families should be asking is whether it’s worth borrowing tens of thousands of dollars for a degree from Podunk U. if it’s just a ticket to a barista’s job at Starbucks. When it comes to calculating the return on your investment, where you go to school does matter to your bank account later in life.”

Calculating the true value of college should take into account more than career earnings. © Can Stock Photo Inc. / jeremywhat

Calculating the true value of college should take into account more than career earnings.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / jeremywhat

I submit that there are several “investments” one makes in college. Your bank account is but one. More on that later. He went on to say:

“Not surprisingly, research has found that a degree from a name-brand elite college, whether it’s Harvard, Stanford or Amherst, carries a premium for earnings. But the 50 wealthiest and most selective colleges and universities in the U.S. enroll less than 4% of students. For everyone else, the statistics show that choosing just any college, at any cost for a credential, may no longer be worth it.”

Not worth it?

* * sigh * *

Here we go again. Right in that current lock-step era of “what will I get for my efforts?” If I work this hard and walk through the maze and then pull the lever, the cheese will come down right? Right into my eager little paw right?

Oh American politics – what you’ve done to our mindset! Does anyone see beyond the guaranteed payoff and/or the immediate gratification anymore and invest themselves in plain simple issues of integrity? Good things sometimes take time to evolve and develop. Is the only reason you go to college about monetary compensation?

I grant you college degrees are not for everyone. I further honor and respect people of the trades and labor positions. Heck, my carpenter father-in-law and steel mill, barber grandfathers are three of the most honorable, inventive people I ever knew. My best buddy the blacksmith, my bricklaying uncles, my pizza-making cousin; all are wonderful, hard-working, dedicated people who raise solid families and lack nothing in the thinking department. They didn’t go to college and that’s just fine.


But when you have the smarts, skills, opportunity AND DESIRE to get through college, no matter how you do it, there is value there that extends way beyond your bank account. And I don’t for a second believe it has to be a Yale or Harvard type of situation for success. The measure of a man comes from the way he expresses what’s within and the priorities he sets for himself going forward. The way he respects others and carries himself requires no education at all other than the school of hard knocks. In fact, give me a city college kid that is putting himself through school as opposed to an Ivy Leaguer who’s riding his parent’s bank account right into his silver spoon future any day. You want to tell me the former hasn’t already learned a lot more than the latter? The fact is there are some harsh realities in the adult, post-college world that you may be a heck of a lot more prepared for if you did your college time and did it well.

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