Posted by: Jacqui Murray | September 8, 2009

Is College Attendance the Next Victim of the Economy

If you read my post, Is College Worth It?, I have a follow up. It seems in these tricky economic times, this is a serious topic among high school students. To me, going to college is about leading a better life (which often translates to more money) and not primarily about earning more money, but there are quite a few high school students who believe it’s all about the green. Maybe that’s why we don’t have more students matriculate from secondary school to higher falling_moneyeducation.

Educators and planners see these as the benefits of education:

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According to one study, here are the reasons students go to college:

  • 62 percent want to obtain knowledge in a specific area
  • 58 percent aspire to obtain an associate degree
  • 47 percent plan to transfer to a 4-year institution
  • 59 percent want to obtain job-related skills
  • 35 percent aim to complete a certificate
  • 33 percent need to update their job skills
  • 28 percent want to change careers
  • percent say they are taking courses for self-improvement

There is no option for ‘make more money’ (in an effort to shift blame, maybe that’s the fault of the poll-creator and not the intention of the students). What recent articles (see the following) imply is, for students, the primary reason is money.

Check out Zogby International and Scoop44:

Twenty-five percent of college graduates believes that higher education is not worth the price of attendance, with the associated costs of tuition, room and board, and books, according to a new Zogby-Scoop44 interactive poll.

According to these figures, 18 to 29 year olds with college degrees are likelier to believe the costs are worth it (62%), while 28% of these young Americans disagree.

Despite the steep loans current and future students will face, young Americans — specifically 18 to 29 year olds — are more inclined to believe that higher education is worth the cost — more than half (55%) agreeing, while 35% disagree and 10% are not sure.

Among respondents between 18 and 24, a considerable majority (58%) agrees that tuition is worth the cost of attendance and the resulting degree. Similarly, 60% of the averaged older demographic brackets (55 to 69 and 70+) said the costs are worth it.

However, in a possible “not-out-of-my-back-pocket” age barrier, poll respondents between 35 and 54 — presumably a new generation of parents paying for their children’s education — have muddier views. While 47.9% said they agreed, nearly 38% — the largest naysayer demographic — said higher education is not worth its growing cost.argent_62

Still, graduates with degrees (63%) are more likely than those without degrees (44%) to believe higher education merits the current price tag — siding with former Harvard University president Derek Bok who often quipped, “If you think that education is expensive, consider the cost of ignorance.”

Ellie Choi, a sophomore at Barnard College in New York City, said higher education is important to advance in the job market today — and to win ultimate socioeconomic and breadwinner status.

“I need an education, and college is really the only place where I think I’ll get it, so I might as well make it worth the money I’m paying,” she said.

Choi, a graduate of Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., the elite private boarding school, also grapples with the post-prep phenomenon, a student population already exposed to advanced college-style curricula and academic opportunities.

Kelly Pilchard, a sophomore studying humanities at Georgetown University, is more skeptical of the need for increasingly “exorbitant costs.”

“Perhaps I’m being naive in feeling the cost of tuition is even slightly justified by the fact that all workers here earn a living wage which increases as the cost of living in DC does, as well, because I know there are many other factors that play into the cost that are not so social justice-oriented. So, in the end, I guess it’s still insanity.”

Overall, 52% of Americans believes the costs associated with a college education are worth it, while 33% money_worlddisagree.

Howard Gardner, a professor of cognition at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education noted for his theory of “multiple intelligences”, wondered if respondents recognize that the “sticker price of elite schools covers only one-half to two-thirds of the actual cost.”

In an interview, Gardner asked of the poll respondents, “Do they know the results of students about the difference in lifetime income between those who do and do not graduate from four year colleges?”

He added, “It’s a bit like health care—how many individuals with strong opinions actually know any of the facts about what the various bills in the house and the Senate propose?”

Patricia Graham, a longtime professor of history and education at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, says that most data suggest “that college graduates are paid considerably more over a lifetime than high school graduates.”

Graham cautions, however, “Making more money, though, is not the only reason to go to college.”

She also commented on the comparative expenses and graduation rates of private versus public undergraduate institutions.

“The more complicated question, however, is whether an expensive, non-selective private institution, is a better choice than an in-state public institution, which costs substantially less. Generally, the more selective the institution is, the more likely the student is to graduate, often because such institutions attract stronger students but also because they also offer many more supports to students who encounter difficulties of any kind while in college.”

If you are going to USNA, you’re not going because it’s a party school or update job skills or the ones listed above. You’ll get a Bachelor of Science and use what you learn to serve your country. It’s critical that you understand the thermodynamics and chemistry that you are presented in class because a month after you graduate, you’ll use it to lead enlisted into the defense of the country.Do you wonder if that’s true? Visit this Navy ensign’s blog. Ask her about the physics and thermo they expected her to know well enough to use.


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