Is College Worth It? Yes, But With Some Considerations

Is college worth it? The answer for the longest time was a resounding yes, but as technologies improve and the economy becomes more about performance than anything else, do the old adages hold true?

The short answer: it depends. For a number of degrees it still holds true that you’ll make more money in life with a degree than without. But it also depends on the field you’re entering and the level of experience you are able to attain.

Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce discovered that unemployment rates for college graduates was 7.5 percent in 2012, only slightly better than the roughly 10 percent rate for workers with experience but no degree. Recent grads with majors in almost every field of study fared better except in areas of architecture and social sciences.

CNBC reports that the unemployment rate for recent bachelors degree holders “in nearly every major has improved, with the exception of communications and journalism majors, whose 8.2 percent unemployment rate is still rising,” while unemployment for health majors plateaued “at around 6 percent.”

Workers with experience suffered the highest unemployment at the undergraduate level (majors: the arts, architecture and social work). Experienced workers with graduate degrees withstood job losses the best of all in almost every case.

Georgetown’s report speculates that it could be 2017 before a full employment recovery takes place, and it could take even longer for earnings to increase. The report also states that even though the wage premium that exists for those with college degrees over those without has remained steady, it’s only because lesser educated workers have also experienced a downgrade in earnings.

“Even in the midst of a lackluster recovery, college degrees have retained their earnings value,” the report concludes.

Online commenters are pretty evenly divided as to whether college is worth it.

“… am very happy I didn’t waste my time or money going to a 4 year school. Trade school isn’t for everyone and I know a bunch of friends who look down on me for it. But, they definitely aren’t looking down at the money I’m making while they still are dorming, partying and having uncertain futures at a 4 year college.”

“I was out of school for 2 years thinking I didn’t need a college degree. and then when I found myself seriously over being a waitress, I found that everything that I wanted to do required a degree to get in the door…. Go look at job listing online. If you want to make 50K or more there is a degree required.”

What do you think, readers? Is college worth it?

[Image via ShutterStock]