college worth it

Is College Worth it?



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For years we’ve been told the surest way to make more money was to invest in yourself — by getting a college degree.

But with the cost of college rising faster than inflation, is college really worth it, or is it the Big Lie?

Getting that college diploma is supposed to be the ticket to the good life. College after college told students, “You know college graduates earn a million dollars more on average than those without a degree?”

Politicians have been saying it too:

Hillary Clinton, 2016 US Presidential Candidate: “Graduates from four-year colleges earn a estimated one million dollars more.”

However a million dollars sounds like a lie to Rachel Purcell.

Rachel Purcell, College Graduate: “I didn’t plan to move back with my mother.”

This month, Rachel had to move out of her apartment because she couldn’t pay the rent.

Rachel Purcell, College Graduate: “I feel like I have to sponge off my family now.”

She never dreamed this would happen after she graduated. Rachel had borrowed big to pay about twenty-four thousand dollars ($24,000) a year to attend Rivier College.

She’s still eighty-five thousand dollars ($85,000) in debt.

Rachel Purcell, College Graduate: “I was told to just take out the loans and get the degree, because when you graduate, you’ll be able to get that good job and pay that off, no problem.”

So she got a degree in human development.

But for what?

For three years, she struggled to find a job.

Rachel Purcell, College Graduate: “Nothing.”

The recession’s her search even tougher.

Rachel Purcell, College Graduate: “I just can’t get a job in my field.”

Instead, she took a low-level desk job with an insurance company, doing work she says she could have done straight out of high school.

Journalist: “So is going to college worth it?”
Rachel Purcell, College Graduate: “I don’t think it was. Because now I have this huge amount of debt, and there’s no way I’ll be able to pay it off.”

Many students told us that promise that a college education will get you a great job.

Rachel Purcell, College Graduate: “I definitely felt that it was a scam.”

Rivier College said Rachel’s situation is unfortunate, but that many of its graduates have launched successful careers.

But a recent survey asked thousands of students at hundreds of colleges, “Would you go to your school again?”

Abut forty percent (40%) said they would not.

And yet we always hear: “Go to college!”

Barrack Obama, US President (2009 to 2016): “We expect all of our children, not only to graduate from high school, but to graduate from college and get a good-paying job.”

Journalist: “Everybody went to college?”
Chris Elfred, College Graduate: “Everybody went to college.”

Chris Elfred followed the crowd in his high school and went to college and grad school.

Now he owes more than a hundred-twenty-five thousand dollars ($125,000).

What did that get him?

Chris Elfred, College Graduate: “I work at a call-center and I make ten dollars an hour.

And I feel like a loser.”

Walter Roland got a degree in meteorology, along with a debt load of seventy-seven thousand dollars ($77,000).

Walter Roland, College Student: “College is a rip off. I’ve got nothing against my college and my professors — but I was misinformed. I was led down this path of needing to go to college to get a good job.

A college diploma is the new high school diploma.”

Dr. Marty Nemko, Education Consultant and Career Counselor: “The bachelor’s degree; it’s America’s most overrated product.”

Dr. Marty Nemko is an education consultant and career counselor.

Dr. Marty Nemko, Education Consultant and Career Counselor: “When your parents have a bachelor’s degree it’s a big deal. Today it’s like a hunting license for a job.”

He’s one of many who say there are some ugly statistics that the education establishment doesn’t like to talk about, like the truth behind that million dollar bonus.

There could be no more misleading statistic that I could possibly tell you about.”

“Misleading,” Nemko says because that includes super-earners like these billionaires. They skew the average. And more importantly many successful college kids would have been successful whether they went to college or not.

You could take the pool of college-bound students, and you could lock them in a closet for four years.

And they’re going to earn more money because those are the kids that tend to be harder working, persistent and smarter.”

But universities still throw around that million dollar number. Arizona State recently used it to justify a tuition hike.

Journalist: “A million dollars is a lie.”

Sandy Mound, College Board Spokesperson: “Some people have misused the million dollar figure because they don’t exactly understand it.”

Sandy Mound speaks for the college board. She admits the million dollar figure is wrong. But she still argues that a bachelor’s degree still earns you half-a-million more.

Sandy Mound, College Board Spokesperson: “On average, people benefit much more from going to college.”

But a recent book by Charles Murray argues that many college students just aren’t able to handle the work. And graduation statistics seem to bear that out.

Charles Murray: “If you’re in the bottom forty percent (40%) of your high school class, you have a very small chance of graduating, even if you are given eight-and-a-half years.”

Amazingly, that’s right. If you’re in the bottom forty percent (40%) of high school students, and today, colleges recruit those kids, odds are, you’ll never graduate.

While experts say, even some college helps, Nemko says to the bottom forty percent: “You probably shouldn’t even bother with college. You’ll mainly get debt and disappointment.”

Dr. Marty Nemko, Education Consultant and Career Counselor: “The immoral thing about it is that the colleges do not disclose that.”

Think twice before taking on debt for college.

Suzie Orman, Personal Finance Guru: “I have to tell you, I don’t think it’s worth it.”

Orman says college is a good thing for kids who have the grades to be doctors and lawyers. But others should assess the value of a generic bachelor’s degree.

Suzie Orman, Personal Finance Guru: “The degree of a college determines how successful you are.

I don’t think so.”

It’s often smarter, she says to acquire specific, marketable skills at a community college, a technical school or work as an apprentice for some business.

That makes you more employable.

That’s what these kids can do at a high school outside Houston. Here students choose among dozens of technical education programs. The training qualifies them for real-world jobs.

The school offers courses in EMT training, CSI courses, and more.

Vocational school pays off for many: electricians today make an average of forty-eight thousand dollars ($48,000) a year. Plumbers make forty-seven thousand dollars ($47,000). That’s more than the average American earns.

But some people still look down on vocational school.

Journalist: “It’s just a fact that a four-year degree from a college is considered ‘first class’. A vocational school degree is not.”

Sandy Mound, College Board Spokesperson: “We are a very status driven society in America. We have a myth that prestigious careers are the key to a life well led.

And it is often a myth.”

Steven Aylers, Auto Mechanic: “More people need to realize that you don’t need a four-year degree to be successful.”

Steven Aylers went through an auto mechanic program, then learned more by getting a paying job as an apprentice at a car repair center.

Now he’s earning even more.

And he has ZERO student loan debt.

Steven Aylers, Auto Mechanic: “I have a lot of satisfaction, knowing that if I fix something, it’s fixed right.”
And this past year while hundreds of thousands of white-collar jobs vanished, the auto repair industry added jobs.

Walter Roland, College Student: “The friends that I know that have jobs, secure jobs, they never went to college.”

And if Rachel could do it over again . . .

Rachel Purcell, College Graduate: “I would have probably gone to a trade school, hairdressing — it’s about eleven thousand dollars ($11,000) and probably be making better money.”

Suzie Orman, Personal Finance Guru: “I would much rather see a student graduate, knowing that they can get a job and not be crushed by the burden of a prestigious degree.”


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1. “A million dollars.” What does this refer to? What is the traditional mantra or message that authority figures tell young people?

2. Has every university graduate become successful and prosperous, career-wise?

3. Many graduates are financially strapped. True or false?

4. “A college diploma is the new high school diploma.” What does this mean? According to a graduate, only the top, brightest high school students went on to university. Is this right or wrong?

5. Do some graduates feel they have been deceived or misled?

6. Should everyone go to university? What are more realistic approaches?

7. Do some graduates regret their decision? They would have do things differently. Is this correct or incorrect?


A. What have you been told about a university education by parents, teachers, politicians and other authority figures?

B. What are the educational paths and options for school students? What percent of high school graduates attend university?

C. What are the popular majors in university? What happens to students when they finish university?

D. There is a glut of university graduates and a dearth (shortage) of skilled technical workers. Yes or no?

E. What might happen in the future?

F. What would young people, schools and politicians do?

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