The case for (and against) college in 10 charts
Millions of people applying to college this fall are grappling with how to write the first sentence of their essay and where to send the first application. Behind these worries, however, is a broader anxiety about not which college to attend, whether to attend at all. Is college worth it, any more?
The case for college is established: The value of higher education has never been higher, period. A college degree -- not only from Harvard, but from community colleges -- turns out to be a better investment than stocks or homes. The fastest growing jobs in the next 10 years require an associate or bachelor's degree, and every piece of evidence suggests that more education correlates with more income and a lower chance of unemployment.
The case against college is gaining steam: Tuition costs are rising and graduates' incomes are flattening. Male bachelor's-degree holders saw a nearly 10 percent decline in real pay over the last 10 years, according to recent Census figures. The U.S. has the highest college-dropout rate in the developed world, and studies have found that college confers "exceedingly small or empirically nonexistent" gains in academic skills.
Who's right? Well, all of these claims are true. The value of college has never been higher. But growth of the college premium has slowed, and the wages of college graduates have fallen in the last 10 years. Here is the case for and against college in 10 charts. Got more charts? Leave them in the comments section.
(A) THE VALUE OF COLLEGE IS GROWING
1. Seven of the ten fastest growing jobs in the next 10 years require a
bachelor's degree or higher (source: BLS)
2. Each additional level of education correlates with lower unemployment rates and higher earnings (source: BLS)
(B) THE VALUE OF COLLEGE IS GROWING BUT SLOWING
(C) THE VALUE OF COLLEGE IS FALLING