Is college worth it? Given the fast pace at which information and technology are advancing, the ever-increasing cost of tuition, and the alternatives available on the market today, the choice of whether to attend college may not be as cut and dried as it once was. A Washington Post article reports:
Knowledge may be priceless, but a higher education is clearly not. University administrators keep hiking tuition, the wages of graduates keep falling, and a whole generation of Americans is struggling under the crushing burden of debt as they postpone their dreams for a tomorrow that may never come.1
The sharp increases in tuition prices show no signs of stopping.2 The average cost of a bachelor’s degree ranges from $25,290 to $50,900.3 Student loan debt is at an all-time high. In 2017, upon graduating, the average student held about $29,800 in debt.4 About 69 percent of 2018 grads took out student loans. The total student loan debt in the United States is currently above $1.5 trillion. According to investor and author Zach Friedman, “Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category—behind only mortgage debt—and higher than both credit cards and auto loans.”5
That’s scary. Starting your career with debt can be a huge strain, regardless of your ambitions. But let’s set aside the purely monetary considerations regarding college. After all, the real question for any individual is: Will my investment provide a sufficient return? . . .
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1. Wonkborg, “Peter Thiel’s Graph of the Year,” Washington Post, December 20, 2013,
2. Emmie Martin, “Here’s How Much More Expensive It Is for You to Go to College Than It Was for Your Parents,” CNBC, November 29, 2017, https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/29/how-much-college-tuition-has-increased-from-1988-to-2018.html.
3. Dave Rathmanner, “Average Cost of College Statistics for 2019,” LendEDU blog, March 7, 2018, https://lendedu.com/blog/average-cost-of-college-statistics/.
4. Anonymous, “A Look at the Shocking U.S. Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2019,” Student Loan Hero Blog, https://studentloanhero.com/student-loan-debt-statistics/ (accessed July 29, 2019).
5. Zach Friedman, “Student Loan Debt Statistics in 2018: A $1.5 Trillion Crisis,” Forbes, June 13, 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2018/06/13/student-loan-debt-statistics-2018/#754752397310.
6. Karsten Strauss, “These Are the Skills Bosses Say New College Grads Do Not Have,” Forbes, May 17, 2016, https://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2016/05/17/these-are-the-skills-bosses-say-new-college-grads-do-not-have/#3489f1f45491.
7. Connie Chen, “107 Free Online Courses from the Best Colleges in the US— Including Princeton, Harvard, and Yale,” Business Insider, March 14, 2019, https://www.businessinsider.com/free-online-courses-from-the-best-colleges-2018-4.