Thursday, February 05, 2009

The great college scam

It's been burned into our psyche for decades; to succeed in today's society a young person has to go to college. It's the key to their future. It's that step that puts them ahead of others. We've been scammed.

To begin with, your average students should be learning most of what makes up college education in high school. More significantly, college has simply become too expensive to be considered a good investment.

Mindy Babbitt entered Davenport University in her mid-20s to study accounting. Unable to cover the costs with her previous earnings as a cosmetologist, she took out a $35,000 student loan at 9% interest, figuring her postgraduate income would cover the cost.

Instead, the entry-level job her bachelor's degree got her barely covered living expenses. Babbitt deferred loan repayments and was then laid off for a time. Now 41 and living in Plainwell, Mich., she is earning $41,000 a year, or about $10,000 more than the average high school graduate makes. But since she graduated, Babbitt's student loan balance has more than doubled, to $87,000, and she despairs she'll never pay it off.

"Unless I win the lottery or get a job paying a lot more, my student debts are going to follow me to the grave," she says.

Babbitt is no oddity. In fact, one in four college grads takes home considerably less than the top quartile of high school grads, according to a College Board study. Even some people with doctorates earn less than people without so much as an associate degree, it shows.

For an indication of how out of touch the degree factories are with economic reality there's no need to pick on UCLA's course in queer musicology or Edith Cowan University's degree in "surf science." U.S. universities also minted 37,000 history degrees in 2006, including 852 Ph.D.s. That for a field with fewer than 500 job openings and average pay of $48,500. Plumbers, by contrast, enjoyed 16,000 new jobs that year and earned only $6,000 less than historians, census figures show.

Unless a person is exceptionally bright (or the parents are exceptionally wealthy and thus wasting money doesn't matter), college shouldn't be considered the standard next-step after high school.

Unless, of course, you really want have a burning desire to take that Baracky Lit Course.

h/t: NRO's Corner.