Forum

College degree outweighs costs

College degree outweighs costs (credit: Adelaide Cole/Art Editor) College degree outweighs costs (credit: Adelaide Cole/Art Editor)
Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has said some pretty controversial things, like calling President Barack Obama “a snob” for wanting “everybody in America to go to college.”

“Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image,” Santorum said at an appearance in Michigan. “I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his.”

My gut-reaction rebuttal is that going to college will dramatically increase a person’s chances of finding a job, but there are several trends that show this is no longer the case.

Take the rising trend of boomerang kids, or recent college graduates who live with their parents because they couldn’t find sufficient employment to afford their own places. According to a 2010 study by Monster.com, 52 percent of recent college graduates are living with their parents, in comparison to 40 percent from the previous year.

This shows that unemployment among college graduates is also high, which is at 8.9 percent according to a recent report published by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Do these career prospects justify the enormous time commitments and costs of a college degree?

At some point, probably not. As much as we celebrate the learning and maturing that happens during college, most of us choose to take on college’s costly burden primarily because we believe we will recoup the expenses through better career prospects. But if those better prospects aren’t there, then college might not be worth it.

However, despite discouraging indicators like boomerang kids and high unemployment rates after graduation, the economic downturn has hit those without college degrees even harder. According to the Georgetown report, recent high school graduates face a whopping 22.9 percent unemployment rate.

Even after a few years in the workforce, there is still a significant difference between the unemployment rates of college and high school graduates. That difference has only become more pronounced since the economic downturn, increasing from 2.4 percent in 2007 to 5.1 percent in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although these statistics might not change the fact that there are still thousands of boomerang kids who can’t find work, the economy does not affect the quality of their education.

While they may not realize these benefits until there is a recovery, employers in almost all industries, which prefer applicants, within a particular age group, with advanced degrees in education regardless of time spent unemployed.

Currently, there are positive signs of recovery, such as higher stock and production indices, and it’s likely that employers will begin hiring again soon. When they do, the boomerang kids will be the first of their age group to reap the benefits.