They played by the rules. They studied hard and made the necessary sacrifices. But after four years of grueling work, today’s college graduates face the bleakest job market in decades.
To make matters worse, grads face unprecedented student loan debt with no means of even beginning to pay it back. It’s easy to see why many graduates see college as a bad investment.
The four year costs for many schools easily reaches $150,000 or more, and according to the College Board, total outstanding student debt will soon surpass $1 billion dollars for the first time in US history.
Moms and dads are opening their basements like never before to children they once thought had flown the coop forever. According to the consulting firm Twentysomething Inc, nearly 85% of college seniors expect to move back home with their parents after graduation.
Even some of the biggest names in business are now questioning the value of a college education. Some like PayPal founder Peter Thiel have gone as far as to call college education the next great American bubble.
As Sarah Lacy writes over at TechCrunch:
Like the housing bubble, the education bubble is about security and insurance against the future. Both whisper a seductive promise into the ears of worried Americans: Do this and you will be safe. The excesses of both were always excused by a core national belief that no matter what happens in the world, these were the best investments you could make. Housing prices would always go up, and you will always make more money if you are college educated.
In support of their claims they point to some of the most successful people in the world who never graduated college including Bill Gates, Ted Turner, and Steve Jobs.
Yet, the US Census Bureau has recently reported that the typical college graduate will earn $900,000 more over her lifetime than a person without a college degree.
And even though college graduates are experiencing record unemployment, their unemployment rate is still far less than that of high school graduates without a college degree. According to October US Department of Labor numbers, college grads over the age of 25 faced an unemployment rate of 4.4%, less than half the 9.6% unemployment rate for high school graduates who have never been to college.
With the world becoming an increasingly competitive global workplace, it’s not hard to imagine that more and more jobs that require less than a college education will be shipped overseas.
Do today’s young adults have any choice but to shackle themselves with debt in order to have any shot at the American dream?
BMWK, what’s your take? Is a college degree necessary for success in today’s society?