Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The High Cost of Higher Education

"Carmen Gardiner, 25, a 2007 graduate of Louisiana State University, is weighed down by her private student loans. Her debt is now about $80,000... Gardiner's undergraduate degree is in psychology. She lives with her husband, who is still in college, and earns $13 an hour at a call center in Atlanta." (USA Today)

Carmen's income level comes out to about $26k/year. If she took 100% of her pay after social security and assuming a small tax, it would take almost four years for her to pay off her student loan. In reality, she probably can never pay it off at her income level or at best it will take a substantial portion of her income for several years. What went wrong? Wasn't getting a college degree good?

Today's job market demands higher education, but education costs keep going higher. What's a person to do? Take out $80,000 (or more) in student loans and get a job that pays $13/hour or skip college and go right into one of those under $10/hour jobs? Is it time for a student bail-out?

Over the next few days, I will explore some of the issues related to higher education. Your input is welcome and may help guide the posts that I make.


Ashley Beth said...

I definitely think that a 4 year degree costs WAY too much these days! I'm sure you find it ironic that I'm saying this seeing as you paid for a majority of mine =)

Another thing I find intriguing is the 2 year degree. Do all of these jobs really need a 4 year degree? For example, at my employer, you are supposed to have a 4 year degree to be a network or server admin. However, 4 year schools don't even teach this skill. 2 year technical schools teach it. So my employer is paying a higher salary (not much higher) for someone who has a 4 year degree but is uneducated in that specialty - now that's ironic!

Randy said...

I agree that a 4-year degree costs too much, but I have move on that coming. Keep reading..

2-year degrees work well for a lot of jobs, but most professional positions require a 4-year degree as you pointed out.

The theory is that when you get a 4-year degree, you gain the ability to learn.

"The Edge" said...

While it is true that degrees come in all shapes and sizes, the bigger issue is all the "fluff" we have that passes for education in our colleges and universities. We have a lot more of what I would call "indoctrination" in which a subject is taught from a particular world view. And while it is true some kids can't think for themselves, it is true most of the time that those sitting behind the desks can. I believe the purpose of a college is to learn all you can about a particular subject, not to be force-fed some pre-conceived way of doing something. Ashley's response is proof of that. The pre-conceived notion is that a 4-year degree was required, when in fact the subject in question was never on the menu. If our educational system at the upper level did a better job of staying on topic and actually teaching the material properly, we might only need 2 years of school to get the training we need for the job we want. If we wanted to learn more, we can take additional classes on other subjects, and so on. Doctors may need six years of being immersed in study while future plumbers might only need six months to learn what they need....everyone will be different. And yet in spite of that, we try to fit everyone into the cookie cutter molds for college classes. Personally, I prefer a dose of common sense.

Randy said...

Edge, I've heard a lot about the "fluff" in colleges, but frankly, I haven't seen it. At least not wholesale. When I went through my MBA program a few years ago, most classes stayed pretty close to the description in the syllabus. I even took a few electives and a few classes not directly related to business.

As for some kids not being able to think for themselves, I'm not sure college is going to help them, especially if the "fluff" you mentioned is there. It simply fills there mind with more "fluff".

As for the common sense, too bad it isn't all that common!