Divided perspective of Americans about college education

This is time of the year when millions of Americans will graduate from college. In this session 2017-18, almost 5,000 higher education degree-granting institutions will award just little less than 4 million degrees. Out of which 1 million will be associate degree, 1.9 million will be bachelors, 800,000 will be masters, and 180,000 will be doctorate degrees


The number of higher education graduates continues to grow along with the percentage of people holding a college degree. Around thirty three percent of Americans, who are 25 years or older, now have at least a bachelor’s degree. This is a significant increase from 28 percent ten years ago. It was under 5 percent in 1940.

But even after this rise in the level of graduates, Americans have divided views on the value of a college education. The results from a recent poll suggest that 49 percent of people agree that a four-year degree was worth the money, while 47 percent of people were against this motion.

There has been a change since 2013 when the same question had 54 percent people for and 40 percent against the motion.

There are good arguments by those who think it is worth it. College graduates more employable. In April 2018, the unemployment rate was 1.9 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree and 4.1 percent for those who only had a high school diploma.

College graduates earn more. Estimation shows that a college graduate with bachelor’s degree is going to earn $1 million more than a non-graduate over the course of their lives.

They are essential for a healthy economy. The US economy will grow from 140 million to 165 million jobs by 2020. And 35 percent of these jobs will require a bachelor’s degree to be eligible, 30 percent will require an associate or some college degree, and 36 percent won’t require anything other than a high school diploma.

But money is not the only thing that college graduates add to the society. Their voting and volunteering rates are much higher –in fact double the rates of those with a high school diploma. They are also significantly healthier, less smokers, and do frequent workout.

But we cannot underestimate the good arguments against college education.

College education doesn’t come cheap. About 40 percent of the adults below the age of 30 have student debt. The average student loan debt amount is $17,000 but this may vary a lot. A quarter of these people owe $7,000 or less, and another quarter owes $43,000 or extra.

College eats your time. Only about 33 percent of those attending public four-year institutions make it to the graduation in four years. Rest of them, may take up to six years or longer.

Also, there are astronomical differences between the returns from college education depending on the college and major.

There are real job opportunities for those without a college degree including paralegal, carpenter, web developer and an appliance repair person.

The data suggests that it makes sense to graduate from college. However, everyone is different and come from different circumstances. The decision to attend college is much more personal.


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