College revisited

Date posted: July 3, 2013

College seems to have lost some of its luster. Many college graduates couldn’t find jobs during the recession. Plus the growth in college loans has put many graduates financially far behind, even if they get a job. Is college still worth the time and cost? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden responds.

“Well, the aggregate statistics still say a big “yes.” If you look at college grads they still own the most.  They have the lowest unemployment rates. Over their lifetime, on average they’re going to earn a lot more income to pay back those college loans. So they still come out ahead, but — and here’s the big but — if you do go to college and you don’t graduate, if you go to a college and graduate but you don’t major in a field where there is a demand, or if you obviously take out more college loans than are justified by the kind of degree and the kind of income you’re going to earn, then unfortunately college can be a bad deal.

So, I think the bottom line here for especially kids who are coming out of high school now and thinking about going to college is, you’ve got to have a plan. Just don’t say, ‘Hey, I’m going to go to college and I’m going to sort of wing it. I’ll get a degree somewhere. I’ll borrow money if I have to.’

You’ve got to have a plan. And you also have to work hard. I tell my kids that college is a great place, but there’s work. You have to put your mind to it. You have to study, because you do want to graduate. It’s not really going to be worth it if you don’t graduate. And finally, you should minimize the amount of loans that you take out. Getting a college loan has become relatively more easy, but you do want to think long run and face the fact that you’re likely going to have to pay back that money.”

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