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Your Take: Is College Worth It?

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After our recent series of interviews with college savings expert, I started to wonder about the value of college. It’s an issue we’ve discussed in the past (verdict was yes… depending on what you studied of course! But we also had a Devil’s Advocate post explaining why college isn’t worth it.) but with college costs rising to nearly astronomical rates, it’s no longer automatic. The Economist, in 2010, looked at how a “PhD is often a waste of time.” in 2011, the New York Times’ David Segal looked at how law school was a losing game. When people point to law school and PhDs as “not being worth it” then it calls into question the idea of higher education.

Looking back to my college years, I felt that college was worth it. I graduated, got a good job in the defense industry, and had I followed that track to its eventual conclusion, I’d say I would’ve had a successful professional career. Based on what I do now, I suspect my post-secondary education probably has a smaller impact but an impact nonetheless. There’s something to be said about academic adversity, even if it’s not fun to experience. :)

Do you think college is worth it?

{ 16 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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16 Responses to “Your Take: Is College Worth It?”

  1. Steve says:

    Yes I think a college education is worth it, depending on the degree. I graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and I’m currently enrolled for my Masters of Engineering in Systems Engineering. Like you, I went right into the defense industry and love it.

    College also teaches you more than just what you learn in the classroom (especially if you live at school). While I agree that spending thousands of $ a year just to learn some social skills is far from worth it, the overall gains of college, both in the classroom and out, make it a worthwhile experience.

    On a side note, it is creepy when you and Dilbert line up on the same day:
    http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2012-06-22/

  2. Matt M says:

    I don’t think there’s any question a undergrad degree is worth it. Maybe grad school isn’t worth it if you go to a lower tier school.

    • mannymacho says:

      I think whether college is worth it is situational. I question whether even undergrad is worth it for many people. I think the problem is that society makes you feel like you can’t make it in life if you don’t go to a four year college, though many are served much better by learning a skill or trade they like that can make a good living.

  3. If you have a plan, can get some government grants and a scholarship or two, college is most definitely worth it. It’s got to be in a useful field of course. Philosophy doesn’t cut it.

  4. Mike says:

    Unfortunately, my civil engineering degree hasn’t landed me a job yet. I’m set to start my Masters soon and I hope to land a job after that.

  5. My friends say college is worth it IF you don’t want to work with your back all of your life.

  6. freeby50 says:

    Like anything, its all about the individual and the alternatives. Theres no single one size fits all right or wrong answer.
    IF you get a useful degree at a reasonable expense in a field that pays ok then yes of course college is worth it. If you over pay at a obscure for profit school and get a degree in basket weaving with $100k in loans then of course thats not worth it.

    I think for any individual they have to look at their own alternatives. Lets say you like working with kids and enjoy teaching. What are your alternatives? If you don’t go to college you can probably be a daycare working for $8-10/hr or a nanny for $12-15 /hr. If you go to college and get a teaching degree you can make $15-20hr starting plus benefits. Yes that makes college worth it in this situation for this person.

  7. Linds says:

    I think college is worth it if you network, work internships, and gain work experience while in college. A lot of time students start and finish college without ever stepping foot into the real world of a working adult. As a student I think it’s important to work unpaid internships or volunteer. By doing this you are getting yourself out there and making connections. When applying for a job later on after college, somewhere you spent some time might remember you “oh you interned here a few years ago,” and you already have a step ahead of the others. Many internships lead to full time employment. I know many students who are now working at the companies they interned at in college, including myself. I also think it’s important for students to gain an understanding of real life work experience. College can be very different from actually being in a full time career and it’s so important students understand the difference. So that’s my take on things. Can’t find an internship? Volunteer, at least you are getting yourself out there.

  8. College is worth it as long as you major in something useful. You shouldn’t be going to the best schools to major in art history. It’s just not worth it financially.

    Undergraduate degrees are really only worth it for selective majors these days: engineering, science, etc. I majored in aerospace engineering, was slightly above average, and had 2 good job offers when I graduated 3 years ago during horrible economic times.

  9. I think college is necessary for some jobs, such as engineering and other math-heavy careers. However, just about anything in the Arts should not require a degree.

  10. Bob says:

    It seems like many people go to college so they can get a good job so they can one day buy a house. But then they have so much debt from their school loans that they can’t afford to buy a house.

    Many people would be better off if they just worked a job and buy a reasonably priced house.

    A friend of mine is a plumber and makes more than 99% of college grads I know.

  11. Nick says:

    Went to college for 5 years. Paid for it myself and used every grant I could get my hands on – never took a student loan. Never graduated because I kept shifting majors and finally the money ran out.

    Since then, I’ve built a great career as an instructor making a very, very, comfortable living. The results were not from any education, but from networking, saying “yes” to opportunities, attempting new things, redefining myself and turning problems into solutions.

  12. Steve [proXPN] says:

    I think it depends on the person and what’s happening in the field they want to pursue. If a programmer is self taught and great, but if there’s a high demand for programmers then a degree leans an employer’s decision toward the degree holder. However I’ve noticed a company needs a CG or graphic designer, they base it off the work or skill tests vs having a degree or resume. So I think college is worth it in some fields, but skill and experience are the ruler of other employment fields.

  13. George P Burdell says:

    I think kids should only go to college if they are sure about what they what want to do with their lives. I’ve seen so many people go to college and wind up doing something else than what they majored in. I think there is too much pressure to go to college right after high school.

    Also, it doesn’t make sense to go into alot of debt either. Unless your family is wealthy or have a ton of scholarships, I think most private schools are not worth the cost. Harvard, MIT, or Stanford is one thing, but going into major debt to study art history at a small liberal arts college is crazy.

    I was lucky to have a top 5 engineering/computer science college in my state and public to boot. So it wasn’t that expensive to get a good education and more importantly a degree in a field that can’t find enough people.

    College is definitely not for everyone and there is nothing wrong with being a mechanic, welder, or other skilled trade as they can make good money too.

  14. ace carolla says:

    went to college. earn a decent living. great decision.

    that attorney bloke mr. wallerstein in the new york times article seems like an ignorant prick with his comments.


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