I went to visit the College of Charleston last weekend with my daughter and met a nice kid who recently moved to the area from the Northeast. A job opportunity brought him there which led us to a conversation on colleges. He's a recent graduate from James Madison University and is $50,000 in debt. His story is like a lot of kids' and they are questioning whether going to college is really worth it? According to the Project on Student Debt, the average debt carried by college grads in 2009 was $24,000, which was a 6% increase from the previous year. They're going to have a tough time paying this back since unemployment for recent college grads climbed from 5.8% in 2008 to 8.7% in 2009.
US News and World Report reported that some liberal arts schools are now costing in the neighborhood of $50,000 per year. Is it really worth it? Proponents says yes for many reasons. According to Ronald Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University, the opportunity to be taught by world-class historians, philosophers, and literary scholars how to analyze, evaluate, critique, and communicate effectively, makes it worth it. In the top colleges, you learn about discoveries in the hottest fields and even help make those discoveries. The other side says it's not necessary, primarily because most CEOs come from regional schools, not private,liberal arts institutions. The authors of the book Higher Education, say you can get a fine liberal arts education at a relatively modest price at public universities. They also recommend considering taking your first two years at a community college.
Like the Game of Life
A lot of recent college grads are part of a generation that doesn't necessarily believe that they have to follow the paths that their parents followed. If they want to be doctors and lawyers, then college is necessary but many believe that they can make it without it. Times are hard and being saddled with $50,00 in debt takes a long time to pay back, especially when jobs are scarce. It's like the game of Life, my kids quickly figured out that you could get around the board faster and with more money if you elected to go straight to a job than go to college. I hope this isn't where things are headed.