The Daily Gazette
The Locally Owned Voice Of The Capital Region

Is college worth it?

Last week, commentator rdf8585 won my contest by correctly identifying the quote from Office Space. I promised that whoever identified it first could choose a topic to this week, and he asked me to comment on this clip. (click here.)

I recommend watching the clip before reading this, but I’ll give a quick summary. It’s an ABC news clip that explores the question “is a college education worth it?” In the end, the majority of the people interviewed agreed that it’s not.

I think it’s a complex question, and a deeply personal one. For me, college was the right choice. And I think for the majority of students it is. But it’s not for everyone.

The clip spends quite a bit of time discussing vocational schools. I have to say, vocational schools are often overlooked and underappreciated in our society. If a student has an overwhelming desire to become a mechanic and no interest in college, then go for it. It’s the right choice for that person.

One of the interviewees states something along the lines of “the bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma,” all the while discouraging people to get a college degree. This seems contradictory. From what I understand, most employers do now expect prospective applicants to have a college degree. So, it seems logical to take this step. But once again, it depends largely on what fields you’re looking to enter.

For me, college was the right choice. Any job I’ve ever considered — journalist, lawyer, teacher, among a million others — requires a college degree just to get my foot in the door.

That doesn’t mean that I expect success to be handed to me on a silver platter because I’ll have a BA. I know I’ll have to work at it, what ever it maybe, to be successful. That’s nothing new. I’ve been raised to work for what I want and not to expect it to always come easily.

Beyond the job benefits, education is important to be an informed citizen of the world. If I want to leave my mark on the world, I need to know how it works.

What do you all think? Leave a comment or two.

Enjoy this post? Share it!


February 5, 2009
9:37 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

You know what I think!

February 5, 2009
11:31 a.m.

[ Flag Post ]

My college matriculation was in 1963 and my college graduation was in 1994. In between, I experienced the Vietnam War and a great deal more. But what I finally learned was how to learn and that was truly worth the wait!

February 5, 2009
1:22 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

I'm planning on graduating in December with a BA in Sociology. I've typically received solid grades (3.0 ballpark) but I haven't learned much in college. I'm not sure what I was supposed to get out of college, but I haven't gotten much. It's been a very unrewarding experience in many ways. I don't feel prepared to do much of anything. That may not matter, given how bad the economy is and will be.

It's funny... I think I had more going for me after high school than I will after college.

February 5, 2009
4:29 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

I think (hope) that a BA has worth beyond what it's in. I think a liberal arts education teaches you how to analyze, how to write, how to think things through. Those are valuable skills in any market place. I hope.

February 5, 2009
5:15 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

I think college is a bad idea if you don't have a plan, if you're going just because it's what to do and everyone else it going. But if you have a career path in mind and you're bright enough to hack it, it's a good idea. Heck, even without the job stuff, I feel like college was worth it for me, even though I'm still paying for it -- I learned a lot, both in my fiend and not, and I made a bunch of great friends.

February 5, 2009
5:54 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

I'm not sure if I ever had a "plan" and maybe that's why it's been unrewarding for me. I didn't go because "everyone else went" -- I went so I could get a better job than I would have had I not went. I've tried for years to find a "career path" but nothing has inspired me.

I used to want to get into newspapers -- I was a regular in the Student Gazette from 01-03 -- but the money is rarely great and the job security is increasingly poor. The newspaper industry is far from a booming business.

How to think things through, how to analyze things and how to write are valuable skills. But I knew how to write before I got to college and various life experiences have taught me how to think things through better than any college course has.

February 6, 2009
2:15 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Community Colleges and Vocational schools are seriously underrated.

This video seems to seriously rely on the conditions of the crashing economy. Where "white collar" jobs have disappeared and "auto repair jobs" have increased - this is an extension of the economy. If the economy is doing well, these higher jobs will be looking for college degrees (wherever you got that degree).

While the short term cost of college is high, the long term pay out is much larger on scale compared to those with no degrees. The opportunity cost of not going to college is quite a bit.

My econ book actually explained this in more detail. It essentially said that a degree may cost 80,000 but it makes you 500,000.

That said, I almost chose to go to community college while I looked for a full time job. (I was still planning on /college/ at some point in my life though).

columnists & blogs