A considerable portion of Ladders’ content is informed by the steady dissolution of the college myth. Whether by reporting on the rise of entrepreneurship, the omnipresent irresolution affecting Millennials in the workforce or by covering the sinuous trail of reports suggesting the income disparity that favors degree holders to be largely hyperbolized. All portents hail the age of skills in censure of tassels and parchment.
A conversation worth having
The latest word on the discourse comes from a paper published by Third Way. In it, we learned that half of the degree holders earn less than $28,000 a year. This sobering assertion is backed by two department sources: The Accreditation Data File and the College Scorecard. The former was used to determine institution names and the amount of federal aid received in 2017-2018 and the latter to calculate the percentage of students that earned more than high school graduates. As stated previously, the vast majority of postgrads are falling considerably short.
“Last year, 16 million students enrolled in an institution of higher education. Their number one reason for doing so to get a good job that provides for a financially secure future,” explained the author of the report, Michael Itzkowitz. “Yet, employment data from the US Department of Education (Department) show that many institutions are failing to meet this expectation for most of their students.”
These figures don’t sit well with what else we know about the horizon awaiting young students. Just about 43 million Americans older than 18 owe a collective $1.5 trillion in federal student loan debt, in addition to $119 billion in student loans from private sources not backed by the US government. Since 1988, tuition costs have risen by 129%. Two-thirds of graduates that carry bachelor degrees lament regret about their college experience, with 26% of Millennials regretting the student loans they applied for in particular. Students that drop out of college (about 40%) additionally earn more annually than those that graduate; $38,376 a year versus $35,256.
The question isn’t should I urge my child to pursue higher education but why should I urge my child to pursue higher education? Recently, Ladders interviewed essayist, Hayley Miilakan, a self-professed education fiend. In her estimation, college is a resource meant to nurture one’s interest. These interests may give one a leg up in their respective industry but that’s only peripherally the point. Competition and credentials pleasure ingenuity. However it is you can prove you know how many beans make five is all of a sudden as valid as any other. Make no mistake, sometimes a degree is the best way to accomplish this, but as a consideration not as a rule.
“I wanted to be able to back up the organizational and research background I had with a degree. I know from working as a liaison to admissions for both my graduate programs that people look to pursue higher education because they think it offers them more opportunity in a job market that is turning more and more freelance and where companies are expecting employees to be able to juggle many different kinds of work at once at a high caliber,” Millikan told Ladders. “With that being said, there’s value in being an educated person in a falling-apart world and I enjoy being a part of academic communities immensely.”
Somewhere, we’ve perplexed the meaning of a life-fulfilled. Equating higher-education with higher salaries depreciates the former and puts the latter beyond our reach. Moreover, to imply to juniors and seniors in high school that the next phase of their life should be cautioned with a lofty income in mind conditions the wrong kind of values at the worst time in young adulthood.
“Providing information on post-enrollment employment outcomes to students and families is critical, as it can help them determine whether an institution is providing a return on investment for students who enroll, ” Itzkowitz writes.