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Is College A Waste Of Time And Money?

GraduationAre you thinking of going to college?  If so, please consider that decision very carefully.  You probably have lots of people telling you that an "education" is the key to your future and that you will never be able to get a "good job" unless you go to college.  And it is true that those that go to college do earn more on average than those that do not.  However, there is also a downside.  At most U.S. colleges, the quality of the education that you will receive is a joke, the goal of most colleges is to extract as much money from you and your parents as they possibly can, and there is a very good chance that there will not be a "good job" waiting for you once you graduate.  And unless you have someone that is willing to pay your tuition bills, you will probably be facing a lifetime of crippling student loan debt payments once you get out into the real world.  So is college a waste of time and money?  In the end, it really pays to listen to both sides of the debate.

Personally, I spent eight years at U.S. public universities, and I really enjoyed those times.

But would I trade my degrees today for the time and money that I spent to get them?

Absolutely.

Right now, Americans owe more than a trillion dollars on their student loans, and more than 124 billion dollars of that total is more than 90 days delinquent.

It is a student loan debt bubble unlike anything that we have ever seen before, and now even those that make their living from this system are urging reform.  For example, consider what a law professor at the University of Tennessee recently wrote for the Wall Street Journal...

In the field of higher education, reality is outrunning parody. A recent feature on the satire website the Onion proclaimed, "30-Year-Old Has Earned $11 More Than He Would Have Without College Education." Allowing for tuition, interest on student loans, and four years of foregone income while in school, the fictional student "Patrick Moorhouse" wasn't much better off. His years of stress and study, the article japed, "have been more or less a financial wash."

"Patrick" shouldn't feel too bad. Many college graduates would be happy to be $11 ahead instead of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, behind. The credit-driven higher education bubble of the past several decades has left legions of students deep in debt without improving their job prospects. To make college a good value again, today's parents and students need to be skeptical, frugal and demanding.

When a lot of young Americans graduate from college and can't find a decent job, they are told that if they really want to "be successful" that what they really need is a graduate degree.

That means more years of education, and in most cases, even more debt.

But by the time many of these young achievers get through college and graduate school, the debt loads can be absolutely overwhelming...

The typical debt load of borrowers leaving school with a master's, medical, law or doctoral degree jumped an inflation-adjusted 43% between 2004 and 2012, according to a new report by the New America Foundation, a left-leaning Washington think tank. That translated into a median debt load—the point at which half of borrowers owed more and half owed less—of $57,600 in 2012.

The increases were sharper for those pursuing advanced degrees in the social sciences and humanities, versus professional degrees such as M.B.A.s or medical degrees that tend to yield greater long-term returns. The typical debt load of those earning a master's in education showed some of the largest increases, rising 66% to $50,879. It climbed 54% to $58,539 for those earning a master of arts.

In particular, many are questioning the value of a law school education these days.  Law schools are aggressively recruiting students even though they know that there are way, way too many lawyers already.  There is no way that the legal field can produce enough jobs for the huge flood of new law school graduates that are hitting the streets each year.

The criticism has become so harsh that even mainstream news outlets are writing about this.  For instance, the following comes from a recent CNN article...

For the past three years, the media has picked up the attacks with relish. The New York Times, in an article on a graduate with $250,000 in loans, put it this way: "Is Law School a Losing Game?" Referring to the graduate, the Times wrote"His secret, if that's the right word, is to pretty much ignore all the calls and letters that he receives every day from the dozen or so creditors now hounding him for cash," writes the author.  Or consider this blunt headline from a recent Business Insider article: "'I Consider Law School A Waste Of My Life And An Extraordinary Waste Of Money.'" Even though the graduate profiled in the piece had a degree from a Top 20 law school, he's now bitterly mired in debt. "Because I went to law school, I don't see myself having a family, earning a comfortable wage, or having an enjoyable lifestyle," he writes. "I wouldn't wish my law school experience on my enemy."

In America today, approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loan debt, and the average debt level has been steadily rising.  In fact, one study found that "70 percent of the class of 2013 is graduating with college-related debt – averaging $35,200 – including federal, state and private loans, as well as debt owed to family and accumulated through credit cards."

That would be bad enough if most of these students were getting decent jobs that enabled them to service that debt.

But unfortunately, that is often not the case.  It has been estimated that about half of all recent college graduates are working jobs that do not even require a college degree.

Could you imagine that?

Could you imagine investing four or five years and tens of thousands of dollars in a college degree and then working a job that does not even require a degree?

And the really sick thing is that the quality of the education that most college students are receiving is quite pathetic.

Recently, a film crew went down to American University and asked students some really basic questions about our country.  The results were absolutely stunning...

When asked if they could name a SINGLE U.S. senator, the students blanked. Also, very few knew that each state has two senators. The guesses were all over the map, with some crediting each state with twelve, thirteen, and five senators.

I have posted the YouTube video below.  How in the world is it possible that college students in America cannot name a single U.S. senator?...

These are the leaders of tomorrow?

That is a frightening thought.

If parents only knew what their children were being taught at college, in most instances they would be absolutely horrified.

The following is a list of actual college courses that have been taught at U.S. colleges in recent years...

-"What If Harry Potter Is Real?"

-"Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame"

-"Philosophy And Star Trek"

-"Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond"

-"Learning From YouTube"

-"How To Watch Television"

-"Sport For The Spectator"

-"Oh, Look, a Chicken!"

That last one is my favorite.

The truth is that many of these colleges don't really care if  your sons and daughters learn much at all.  They just want the money to keep rolling in.

And our college students are discovering that when they do graduate that they are woefully unprepared for life on the outside.  In fact, one survey found that 70% of all college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the "real world" while they were still in college.

In America today, there are more than 300,000 waitresses that have college degrees, and close to three out of every ten adults in the United States under the age of 35 are still living at home with Mom and Dad.

Our system of higher education is not working, and it is crippling an entire generation of Americans.

So what do you think?

Do you believe that college is a waste of time and money?

Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below...

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  • dooder

    I worked in Afghanistan for several years to pay for school for two of my three boys. Oldest boy, no schooling making 12 an hour. Middle son graduted college laid off from his $11 an hour temp job Friday, degree is a dual business management / international studies, my cost about 16,000. Youngest son working on his CNC machinist AA dregree, my cost about 6,000.
    So pick your degree wisely. My advice is go after the harder technical degrees. Parents need to engage there kids and avoid loans at all costs. Use local community colleges and local cheaper universities.
    My costs are just for books and classes, doesn’t include, car parts, gas , insurance, World of Warcraft account, Internet, computers etc.

  • SoF

    Not just in America. Anywhere that is first or second world the college degree is at best overhyped. Economic realities means companies prefer cheap graduates from third world nations thanks to ‘globalization’ and ‘free trade’ and the non-leaders in leadership positions lecture us that we are not working hard enough.

    Its not about working hard enough. The bloody system isn’t fair and doesn’t care about you. The government authority doesn’t care about your well being, but cares about how much money they can steal from you until you die.

    The system in the end wants angry, frustrated people who are as such from the expectations they were led to believe were achievable and then ‘reality’ paints a different picture in terms of a job more for low educated types. Then they express this anger to others, and when they do snap the jail cell or mental institution is waiting for them.

  • Orange Jean

    One thing I would recommend … consider taking a few years after high school before deciding. Why? You’ll get some experience what life might be like for you without furthering your education … and if you decide to go, you’ll likely be more mature and better able to make good choices about things like what to major in, what classes to take, how hard to work at it, etc.

    Why ever would you think life is made to be easy? From my experience (and I am 63), life is hard… and there are many difficult choices to be made. What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you want to marry? If so, is the person you met the right one? Should you have kids? Where should you live, etc. etc. Hard choices are what makes us grow up! And when and if you make a mistake, what are you going to do about it? Life’s choices test us and can help us become better people… or worse. And I don’t think it ever ends, until we die.

    I don’t think there is one right answer for everyone. For me, going to college turned out to be a blessing… because without it I could not get a job with enough earnings to support myself and my son. I started at age 30, when I had reached my pathetic “peak” earnings without it and was so bored with my job I was starting to feel suicidal (this is my LIFE?). I needed a chance to change and I got it. It was not easy… raising a teenage when I was studying plus working part time and had at most about $550 a month to live on (mostly borrowed money). The summer between my two years of grad school I had a nervous breakdown, worried as I was about ever being able to get a decent job and whether I just threw it all away. Somehow though I got through it… and found a not great paying (20K a year as a data manager for a medical research project) but different from the work I was doing before I started school… and at least related to what I was trying to do with my life. In the end, it took me 13 years to pay off my student loans; 6 years to find work in the field I had decided to go into… and another 10 years to get the actual job title I wanted in the first place.

    Was it worth it? Monetarily, yes… as I now earn almost 4x what I was earning before I started school and have been able to keep up with inflation. Was it interesting? Definitely so! Am I bored on my job? Nope! The downside? Of course there are some… I found out the field I went into is full of nasty, cut throat people. Wish I had figured that out earlier and maybe chosen something different. But I don’t regret going to college.

  • unknown

    The best part of this article is the end. Where there is a advertisement for Brown Mackie College.

  • EyemNotFree

    Higher education is a waste of time and money. I am still trying to pay for my pell grant from 1984. Don’t let the department of education destroy your life.They still will not remove the inquisition device out of my back. Everything they taught me about the US constitution was a lie.
    Violently overthrow the US government

  • Raul

    I dropped out of college when I was 21 and it has been the best decision I have ever made. Street smarts will always out perform school smarts. Not to brag or anything like that because all of our lives are different but I live and eat better than the valedictorian of my high school graduating class. I really hope people start waking up and FAST!

  • N_Disnye

    Post WWll, college was not for everyone, just those who wanted to better themselves.
    Most times it involved day courses or night class, the former sometimes subsidised by the employer, the latter for personal betterment.
    These days it has been added to the list of rights demanded as basic further education, interpreted by most as extended skiving and having fun.
    Those who really apply themselves are worth their weight in gold, but the system rarely supports them.
    Perhaps a return to a more rigid result based system would reap the rewards to all that is so needed today.

  • Bruce

    With the exception of medical, engineering or computer sciences field, college is a complete and costly waste of time. Saddled with debt that will cripple your future. Institutions of higher learning has screwed our young people. Greed has ruined this world!!!!!

  • Shelby

    I do believe that once upon a time institutions of higher education mattered. I honestly now believe that many of the degrees offered are merely clever manipulations of colleges and universities. We don’t need more lawyers, social workers, or sports psychologists– but the professors need students in order to keep their cushy jobs and esteemed titles. People who work at Burger King or who pick up our weekly garbage offer far more service to humanity than professors do. And I suspect that 200 years from now, those of us who persisted in the educational charade will be known as ‘the fools.’ There is also the serious issue of grade inflation– more proof that the system of higher education feels the need to justify their existence. It is every bit as corrupt as politicians and the mafia. I’ve lost all respect for our current system of ‘higher education.’ I’m sorry I ever gave them a single dime.

  • Drew

    Michael, here’s a topic I would love to see investigated and covered: Huge percentages of college students are totally unfocused on school and academics in favor of parties, drinking and college sports. Mobs of them need to be met with police intervention. Two recent examples off the top of my head, search Google for (omit the quotes):

    1) “msn Pat’s bash erupts”

    2) “msn police pepper spray students game”

    I can’t possibly see how these “students” are in any way productive.

  • Jackie

    To a certain degree I believe that it’s a waste of time, and MONEY. I belive that ‘Real Life’ should be taught in many ways. Such as real life reading, writing, math, finance, markeing, science, computers, literature about today’s events. Learning about time, money management, parenting, leadership, and.real life communications skills. It shouldn’t cost an arm and leg to get an education. It doesn’t take a lot of unnecessary college courses to do most jobs. Real life situations, events, and technology is important.

  • Piglet

    “These are the leaders of tomorrow?”

    No, these are the sheeple of tomorrow. For those in government now, this is excellent. They can do whatever they wish and no one will notice because, as one girl in the video says, “I’m not into politics.”

    “And our college students are discovering that when they do graduate that they are woefully unprepared for life on the outside.”

    This is very true. For many years after graduation, I and other college grads would joke about how little or nothing nothing we had learned in college was of any use to us, and that first decade after graduation was spent as a USAF officer. A degree was required for commissioning but that’s where its utility ended.

  • guguciao

    My niece wants to get a BS in Anthropology… I really hope it works out for her….

    I myself would rather invest $1,000 in buying books about Import / Export, Advertising, Marketing and Copywriting.

    • Orange Jean

      Not a worthwhile degree, I can assure you. I got a BA in Anthro, had to go to grad school (in another topic) to have a snowballs chance in hell to get a job.

      NONE of the people I personally know from my old Anthropology department (including PhDs) who were not already professors when I went to school in the 80s ever got a decent job because of the anthropology degree. Just sayin’! However, if your niece wants a full indoctrination into “Marxist-Leninist” perspective on anything, that’s the place to go!!

  • Paul Waliser

    Boys getting education in the “testosterone” trades of welding, plumbing, mining, electrician, carpentry, and masonry are turning out to be the real winners in income. Too high of a percentage of foreigners are needed to fill the jobs in these sectors since our feminized society has stigmatized any job field where you can get your hands dirty. The trade schools are very affordable and usually can be completed in 2 – 3 years.

    Going in to debt for 50,000 is insane for those degrees in feminist literature, et al. The graduates in the liberal arts come out with so much debt and end up as the typical Obama Occupy Wall Street voters.

    Our lame, less manly society has done a number on my 16 year old son as there is no way I can talk him in to going taking on one of the high earning trades listed above. He wants business management.

  • Rob W

    Two universals that probably won’t change: When people walk into a dark room, they want to flip a switch, and have the lights come on. When they do their business, they want to hit a switch and have it all go away. I tell my boys this all the time.

  • Frosty Wooldridge

    As a graduate of Michigan State University, I am profoundly thankful for my college experience. If not for it, I would still be milking cows on the farm. Instead, I traveled the world, I wrote over a dozen books, I think broadly and deeply. A college degree creates critical thinking, understanding and moves a person’s mind toward greater understanding. We need intelligent people in the USA and around the world. Unfortunately, the USA suffers 42 million functionally illiterate people and another 50 million cannot read past the 4th grade level. We face 48 million subsisting on food stamps because they lack an education that prepares them for work. Yes, we need college-educated citizens to drive this civilization positively forward. It takes an intelligent citizenry to sustain a free society. Frosty Wooldridge, 6 continent world bicycle traveler

    • Matt

      I don’t think you are giving yourself enough credit. The degree doesn’t make you think broadly and deeply — its you. Your either got it or you don’t; sadly most don’t.

  • Anonymous

    Universities are guilty of consumer fraud. In addition to charging outrageous sums, loan officers trick broke students into going deeply in debt.

    The consumer fraud doesn’t end there. Why are career-oriented courses taught by people with no real world experience in their alleged fields of expertise?

  • http://www.worldeventsandthebible.com/ Brandon @ WorldEvents&TheBible

    It all depends on how you approach college IMO. If you go in not knowing what it is you would like to do and expect to graduate and find some million dollar job, then you are kidding yourself. Researching is always a good idea, like krinks points out below, he owed in college loans as much as he made in one year.

    Researching the job you are looking for and the pay scale compared to the debt in college loans you will accumulate can really help you make a better educated decision.

  • Ricky Ricardo

    In 1995 I just finished senior college – but no job. I went to vocational school to train to become an ultrasound tech. Here it is – 20 years later – and after 4,000 resumes – no job in any hospital or clinic was offered to me. None. I paid back the $6000 loan working as a telemarketer. F…k!

  • Ricky Ricardo

    Here in Illinois, ISAC doesn’t give a f…k that you can’t find the job that you trained for. All they want is the money and if you have to pay it back flipping hamburgers – they don’t f..k…g care! Nor will they warn, beforehand, that student loan debt is one TRILLION dollars. They remain mum about that- the f..k..rs!

  • Ricky Ricardo

    If you try to get out of your student loan debt by suing the creditor – the judge will refuse to hear the case, and then order an out-court-settlement – which will leave you with the same debt that you had before you came to court.

  • Ricky Ricardo

    There is a TRILLION dollar student loan debt for one simple reason. While you’re in school studying or training for that job you so very much want, U.S. employers are GOING CRAZY outsourcing, H1-B visa in-sourcing, and automating all the f..k…g jobs that can get their greedy little hands on – including the one you’re studying for right now.

  • Ricky Ricardo

    If you’re 21 years old, the next 50 years for you will be like this: You will work at 25 different slave-wage jobs for 25 years, and, you will be unemployed for another 25 years. When you’re 65 or 70 you will get social security, rent vouchers, food stamps, energy assistance vouchers, Medicare, Medicaid, church food pantries, a free bus pass, dollar stores, and a free federal cell phone. Nice life, huh?

    • chwa harps

      Why you being so negative? Yes there will be significant pain ahead in the labor market from technology advances and automation. There will always be jobs available for CPA’s, Lawyers, Doctors (there’s a shortage), manual labor such as mechanics, engineers, and software developers.

      If you graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt/loans, you’re inheriting a life of slavery. HOWEVER, there will come a point in time when tuition costs are FORCED to decline due to it being unaffordable. College tuition has surged ahead of inflation for 30 years straight and we have over 1 TRILLION in student loans outstanding, it’s simply unsustainable and the bubble will burst.

      Sallie Mae and all of the private student loan guarantors will be forced to take a loss. Granted they will likely be bailed-out since we live in a crony capitalist system but no less tuition costs will decline and the pain from the default will hurt.

      There is a future but it’s outside of the traditional system we live in. You need to find a source of income that suits the style of living you want. The solution is to move offshore where life is cheaper and quality of life is better. Take your negativity and shove it

  • http://waltersthinking.blogspot.com/ Walter Ruggieri

    I think a college education is a good thing to get if you can afford it. Also, if you get a degree you can use. I have a degree in music which I use to teach in a public school. It has provide me with a nice life, though it has not made me wealthy. I always questioned my fellow students who were getting a music performance degree. Why get a degree to be a performer? Just go and practice, perform, and study with the best teachers you can find. If you get a degree get it in something you can use if performing doesn’t pan out. I would add today, don’t get a music degree to teach. One, it’s not all what it used to be. Two, there are fewer and fewer positions for music (especially in progressive states like California).

  • hon788

    College is very important and can help one think better.
    Many college are only 16 bucks a credit, that’s right 16, just stay away from large famous schools.

  • JWT

    While I will agree that for the most part, college is no longer a good investment, I don’t agree that the quality of education is poor. This is a ridiculous assessment. Most of the world disagrees with this statement, and the fact is that the top engineers, scientists, and doctors are produced in US universities. Not knowing a current US Senator is not a criterion by which to judge the US educational system. I myself, while in college, did not have TV, the internet was just coming of age, and didn’t subscribe to a newspaper. As such, I did not even know in the middle of 2000 that we were in the middle of a stock market crash. Why? Because I was busy devoting myself from sun up to sun down to learning biochemistry, not the current situation in US politics. I now hold 4 patents, but probably can’t name 2 US senators.

  • Kristen Marie Embler

    I most certainly do agree that tuition rates are absolutely outrageous, but lowering them can’t really save this country now with the state it’s in. Yes, there would be less of a sticker price to attain a degree and more people would be able to go, but that won’t bring the outsourced jobs back. There are very few good paying jobs now in sharp contrast to thirty-forty years ago. The only ones that are being created now on a fast rate is at or around minimum wage level. We will have an even more saturated job market with very few good paying professions seeing that a graduate from India is of higher value to greedy corporations due to the fact that someone over there would accept $8/hr instead of what your average American wants.The more money these CEO’s save from slave labor over there, the more jobs will continue to go out the door in the U.S. It’s a lose-lose situation that was planned by the 1% from the get-go.

  • davidmpark

    Your worldview may be finite. I’ve studied: the real world is renewing itself constantly. There is more than enough for the current population.

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