Tuesday, May 17, 2011

For some, a college degree is a 'bad bargain'

Some people are looking at the ROI (Return on Investment) of a college degree, and questioning its value.
Among the warning signs, a quarter of college graduates who earn less than $50,000 a year now say their degree was a bad bargain. A number of presidents say they have begun to see a trend of "trading down," of price-sensitive students and parents opting for more affordable institutions, such as community colleges or local public universities. They worry: Could some of those students opt out of higher education altogether?
Many jobs require college degrees simply because employers have decided a degree serves as a useful marker for a certain level of discipline and intelligence.  With the widespread belief that college academic standards have declined and with the price of college becoming increasingly unaffordable, will that change?
But whether ponying up for a degree leads to a fat paycheck seems to be a little unclear, at least to the average American. While a plurality of those surveyed maintained that the main purpose of college is to learn specific skills and knowledge for the workplace, a third of college graduates said their current job doesn't require a degree. Asked what it takes to succeed in the work world, respondents ranked a college education below a good work ethic, getting along with others, and skills acquired on the job.


  1. From the employers point of view, requiring a college degree is how you make sure you are getting someone with a good work ethic.

    This is one of the biggest factors affecting higher ed - the main customers are the employers, not the students - but the employers do not pay for the degree. Thus, they are free to escalate their demands.

  2. I'm starting to hear complaints from employers that their college graduates can't write well, but apparently it has not developed into a big issue for them.

  3. The employers will just start requiring masters degrees. In fact, when I worked at the software company, we pretty much did require it, and where my husband works, they prefer masters or PhD from an elite CS program