College Debt

The media cannot seem to get enough of the story: college students 1 trillion dollars in debt, and over half of them graduate to unemployment.  While the numbers don’t lie, this constant discouragement is becoming exhausting. Luckily, the PEW Center on Statistics produced some numbers of their own last week that can at least provide a semi-less depressing reason for why we come to school every day.

A project called “How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford? The Impact of the Recession on Recent College Graduates” found that, while the recession hit 21-24 year olds hard across the board, the higher an education a young person had, the less likely they were to be unemployed.

The employment gap between high school graduates and college graduates was already quite large before the recession; however while the employment decline for high school graduates was 16 percent after the recession, and 11 percent for Associate degree holders, it was as low as 7 percent for those with a Bachelor’s Degree.

Unemployed college graduates found jobs more easily than high school graduates, and their wages were higher, as the majority of growth that has occurred in the job market over the past few years has been in jobs that require some type of higher education.

A similar study done by the University of Georgetown called “The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm,” found that the Bachelor’s degree gained 2 million jobs during the recovery and the Associate’s gained 1.6 million, while the number of jobs available to those with a high school diploma or less dropped by 230,000 and most of the jobs lost during the recession were those held by people without a college education.

There is a constant barrage of negativity these days surrounding the issue of whether or not a college education is worth the cost to students and their families; the above statistics clearly demonstrate that it is. Unfortunately the growingly popular belief otherwise is causing a constant decline in college enrollment, sharply decreasing revenue from tuition, and creating growing skepticism in the political sphere as to whether or not supporting higher education is worthwhile.

So, yes, the higher education system suffers many issues of funding, and there are few options being offered to fix it, especially in our own state, cuts in funding are a yearly norm. But in part, maybe changing the system will be easier and more effective once people change the way they think about higher education. That while it may be on life support, the American dream still lives, and more education is always better than less.