June 13th, 2011
04:40 PM ET

Has the value of a college degree changed in recent years?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama flew to Durham, North Carolina, Monday to meet with his Jobs and Competitiveness Council hoping to get some ideas from corporate leaders on how to boost the economy and promote job creation. Now there's an idea.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/06/13/art.diploma.jpg caption=""]
He's going to need all the help he can get. With 9.1% unemployment, things aren't looking so hot, particularly with the jobs situation so bleak for college age and college-educated young Americans, a demographic that widely voted for President Obama in 2008.

According to a one study, the median starting salary for students graduating from four-year colleges in 2009 and 2010 was $27,000 a year. That's 10% lower than what those who entered the workforce from 2006 through 2008 earned. A separate study found only about 45% of college graduates under age 25 are working a job that requires a college degree. Less than half. That number varies from major to major: Those who majored in education and teaching or engineering are much more likely to find a job requiring a college degree. But while engineering jobs are highly paid, education and teaching jobs have much lower earning potential.

And here's a sobering thought: Half the 54,000 jobs created in May came from McDonald's.

All of this is reigniting the debate over whether a college degree is really worth it in this economy. Over the past 20 years, tuition and fees at public universities have jumped nearly 130%. But real income for the middle class has actually dropped. The latest figures show the median income in the U.S. is $400 lower than it was in 1988.

We hear a lot about dealing with a "new normal" in the wake of the Great Recession. Choosing against a four-year college degree may be part of that for some Americans.

Here’s my question to you: Has the value of a college degree changed in recent years?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Sylvia in San Diego, California:
When our young people are coming out of college with a bachelors degree and debt to the tune of $100,000 plus, yes, the value of a college education has changed. That said, I would advise today's high school graduate who does not know what they want to study to go to a community college to find themselves. It will be less expensive and less stressful.

It depends on where a person is headed. If college is just a place to hang out for four years to think about what you might want to do, few can afford it. Personally, I'd opt for a good culinary school or consider the fact the local plumber, a high school graduate, makes $75 an hour.

Alex in Washington:
Not really, Jack, but the cost to get a degree has risen to the point that you question the value of something that will leave you in debt for so long. Back in the day I went to a state school and was able to complete my degree debt-free thanks to the G.I. Bill.

My college degree changed my life. I went from being a security guard making $20,000 per year barely being able to pay bills without health insurance to getting a government job making $34,000 per year. Now I can manage my bills and have health coverage with a foreseeable future.

I'm a 24-year-old teacher and am one of the few recent graduates I know to get a job right out of college. I have a couple friends who were also lucky enough to find jobs. They are engineers. College education is as important as ever, but the role of certain degrees has changed. There is plenty of demand in fields like education and science and technology. College students today need to be smart when choosing their degrees.

R. in Minnesota:
You bet it has changed! We push people through High School who can't read or write, then send them to college where a litany of overbearing college professors only give you passing grades if you totally subscribe to their left wing ideology, and what you get on the back side are ignorant young adults who lack the job skills to compete with the world, but who sure can chant out "Hope and Change" mantras......

Filed under: Education
soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. Russ in PA

    Seems to me that it borders on being a bad economic choice, as the influx of tax dollars has created an oversized, overpriced education system. Perhaps colleges should spend less time and money on football, and more on educating their students.

    June 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  2. MNResident

    You bet it has changed! We push people through High School who can't read or write, then send them to college where a litany of overbearing college professors only give you passing grades if you totally subscribe to their left wing ideology, and what you get on the back side are ignorant young adults who lack the job skills to compete with the world, but who sure can chant out "Hope and Change" mantras......

    June 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  3. John from Alabama

    Jack: The value of a degree is still very good. I see more people with a degree employed than I do those without post-secondary education. I believe those with degrees understand that retraining or new skills maybe necessary to have a job. Those who do not have a degree will not seek new skills. All my son's friends who have degrees seem to be gainfully employed, and those who do not are drawing unemployment.

    June 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  4. Jim


    If you really just measure the value of a college degree by how many extra dollars it will likely get you over the course of a career, the answer is surely "Yes!" Those with Liberal Arts degrees do seem to be having a rougher time coping financially in today's America. Those with scientific and engineering degrees, on the other hand are doing better than ever. But the value of a college degree goes beyond mere enhanced earning power. It also lies in the knowledge and wisdom acquired. It lies in the increased understanding of who and what we humans are, where we came from and why we behave the way we do. That measure of the value of a college degree has NOT changed.

    Reno, Nevada

    June 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  5. Don Desaulniers (Belleville, Ontario)

    The university experience and the confidence that comes with obtaining a degree have not lost their value.
    But the cost to obtain a degree has exploded beyond its value.
    Between 1965 and 1971 I attended university, and ended with a student loan debt of only $2,000.00 which I paid off in my first year of work.
    Today's graduates are drowning in hopeless volumes of student loan debt. Where is the long-term value in that?
    Excessive debt results in graduates out of necessity discarding their core ethics and gravitating to the big money jobs, like Wall Street and large companies, where morals are generally frowned upon.

    June 13, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  6. george c paree

    I think it has Itaught pipefitter appr for thirty years and watch income for pipefitters raise over the years while college grads became bosses that had learn nothibg to be managment .It took about three years to teach them,enought comon sence to be helpful.Jack having a 4 years of college didnt help to everyday use but give them 10 years and they raise to top management very well. chuck pareew anderson in

    June 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  7. Conor in Chicago

    College degrees today are what High Diplomas were 30 years ago. Of course the key difference is that High School Diplomas don't cost you anything. A BA costs you $30-$40 K.

    June 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  8. Jayne

    It depends on where a person is headed. If college is just a place to hang out for 4 years to think about what you might want to do, few can afford it. Personally, I'd opt for a good culinary school or consider the fact the local plumber, a high school graduate, makes $75 an hour.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  9. Lori - PA


    The value of a college degree has not changed, but the job market has. With unemployment at 9%, and no indication that it will change anytime soon, no one is having an easy time finding a job.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  10. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    I think you are to succeed in today's world, you need some form of education other then a high school diploma. It is next to impossible today to get a good paying job with or without a college education. But having a college education at least you have a foot in the door or should I say toe in the door.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  11. Gary H. Boyd

    Yes, yes and yes Jack. . It's gone from around $10,000 back in my time to about $80,000 today if you take my meaning. But, that's not the thrust of your question which should be - Has the worth of a college education changed. And, the answer to that is another yes, yes and yes. A college degree separates the wheat from the chaff in the employment line because it demonstrates commitment and perserverance despite the cost. That speaks volumes to an employer.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    June 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  12. Floyd Burgess

    Not at all Jack. When I graduated from college some 30 years ago, my college degree and two bits would buy me a cup of coffee. The only difference is coffee can cost five bucks today.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  13. Jane (Minnesota)

    I would say, the high cost of getting that degree now starts the graduates so far in debt right off the bat that the value is much less than it used to be – unless you are going into legal or medical specialty fields -- OR if one goes to school to become a member of Congress. Then the payback would be much quicker.

    A sad commentary on the times, I'm afraid.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  14. KB and JB central Florida

    try getting a job and see how much value there is to a college degree.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  15. John Moore

    Jack, Not sure that a truly useful degree has lessened in value but too many people are paying big bucks to earn degrees that have little value. Basically they are paying for the college experience, in the US we are hung up on this and should begin to value those who learn a trade or skill much more. Attending college is great but only if a skill with value is learned.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  16. Loren

    A college degree is now the equivalent of a high school diploma of thirty years ago. With the outlfow of manufacturing jobs to points east, and the lack of jobs of every kind, employers now have their choice and will always choose a higher education, even if it has been devalued by the industrialization of American education. Glad I am on downside slope of my career and no longer need to worry about entry level jobs.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  17. Carl

    What it cost to get a degree in dollar amounts has only gotton worse. The actual sense of what they are worth in terms of getting a job, is just about worthless.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  18. David of Alexandria VA

    That depends entirely on the Degree, Jack. If you go technical, science, business, medical, or education (That is, a career with jobs, good pay, and a future) you'll do fine. But, if you want to borrow $150,000 to get a masters degree in art history or philosophy, get ready to move back with your parents for about 20 years until you're out of debt. Where are the parents and guidance counselors when we really need them?

    June 13, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  19. lou

    College is still a good investment as long as kids know what they want to do going in, and have researched whether there is a demand for that skill when they graduate. Too many kids are attending college to party, explore themselves, dabble in classes that have no payoff in getting a job, etc. Then they wonder how they're going to pay off 50 thousand in student loans on a liberal arts degree with a major in museum studies.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  20. Chris (NJ)

    I read several of the articles here on CNN about this and neither side of the argument is right. Fact is that it all depends on your degree. Liberal arts degrees are definitely not worth what they once were but technical degrees more then pay for themselves very quickly. As an engineering student, I can tell you that my student loans will be paid off in less then five years once I graduate. My friends in criminal justice, communications, etc. don't have that luxury because jobs are harder for them to find.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  21. Gerry

    A college degree is more essential now than it was for the previous generation. Our world is considerably more complex now and a high school education will not provide you with the intellectual protection that you need to function in todays world.

    Ash Fork, Az.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  22. Lana, Portland, Oregon

    With too many degrees chasing too few jobs in recent years, the value of the job has gone up and the degree down. It's basic economics. And as long as politicians keep talking through their Weiners instead of taking care of business it will continue this way.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  23. Ken from Pinon Hills. California

    Yeah, if basket weaving requires a degree like the so many other worthless courses they teach.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  24. Dave

    There is a mistaken belief that a college degree is a ticket to the American Dream. The value of a college degree depends on the major. A BA in History or English is worth about as much as it ever was, i.e. not much. A degree in Engineering, Accounting, or Nursing is worth something. If you want to follow a passion for Art History, thats fine. Just don't expect much of a return on investment.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  25. Brad, Portland, OR

    In the old days, there was a social compact that said if you went to college, worked hard, and kept your nose clean, you'd be able to get a good job and live a comfortable middle class life.

    Now jobs of every kind are being outsourced to the cheapest labor markets in the Third World, including professional jobs like computer programmer, attorney, and journalist.

    Nowadays, it would be smart to forget about racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in college debt, going to the local community college, and training to be a plumber, electrician, or auto mechanic.

    If you've ever had them do work for you, you know they make a ton of money, and their jobs can't be sent to China.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  26. Tina Tx

    College now is just a place to waste time while you are waiting to get hired if & when the job market picks up. Used to you would go to college, get a great job that you would love for a life time and retire with great benefits. Now you are lucky to get one that pays anything much less having benefits.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  27. Bryan, Colorado

    Having an education is and always will be worth it. The president seems to think that the citizens of our country are uneducated and that seems to be holding us back when it comes to creating jobs. The unemployment line is full of college and trade school educated people. Give businesses tax incentives to employ educated new hires. Maybe the president can hire all unemplyed people to work for the federal and state goverments. I understand education is not a factor when considering applicants for most goverment work.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  28. ken, atlantic city, nj

    A college education is not worth the money it costs and it is time that employers stopped this nonsense of requiring a college education for every job. Employers could easily train any average high school graduate in a short period of time to do most of the new jobs in customer service, wall street paper pushers, sales, and business. The only people who are benefiting from the high cost of education are the overpaid college professors, adminstrators, and coaches. Advanced degrees in engineering, physics, and chemistry are a few of the exceptions of value for college education. Taking a few courses in english, history, arts, and music to earn a liberal arts degree is a total waste of money and has no value. Employers want cheap foreign labor so they pay off congress to issue 1 million green cards every year to people from other countries to take jobs away from americans who go into debt just to earn a worthless degree.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  29. Larry from Kansas


    Five years ago a college degree would get you in the door. Now it will get you in debt for the rest of your life and put you on the unemployment line. COLLEGE DEGREE=NO VALUE (In pesent economy)

    Larry from Kansas

    June 13, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  30. Joe CE

    It is aboput equivalent to a high shool edcation 50 years ago. Standards are down for teachers and students. Too many churned out without being compentent.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  31. Rich in Texas (The Job State)

    I have been working with young adults coming into the work place right out of college for years now. The problem is that most colleges no longer prepare these people for the real world. They come into the workplace full of piss and vinegar thinking the are going to teach everyone something only to find out most of what they learned is nothing but theory taught to them by someone who has never held a job outside of academia. For most it only creates un-necessary debt.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  32. james in greenville nc

    College degrees are a dime a dozen. Now you need to be young and college educated. An old college education is now outdated along with its holder. How many languages can you say, "Would you like fries with burger?"

    June 13, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  33. Sylvia from San Diego, CA

    When our young people are coming out of college with a bachelors degree and debt to the tune of $100,000 plus, yes, the value of a college education has changed..... That said, I would advise today's highschool graduate who does not know what they want to study to go to a community college to find themselves. It will be less expensive and less stressful.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  34. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: I think it has-–the value of completing a college has increased- We have to work five times as hard-–and We have to prove our value seven days a week--that's if we can find suitable employment. Times are changing!

    June 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  35. Alex in Bremerton, WA

    Not really, Jack, but the cost to get a degree has risen to the point that you question the value of something that will leave you in debt for so long. Back in the day I went to a state school and was able to complete my degree debt-free thanks to the G.I. Bill.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  36. Rich McKinney, Texas

    It sure seems like it Jack. With the job market being what it is with almost 10 percent unemployment all across America it almost embarrassing having minimum wage college graduates working the drive thru window at McDonalds just hoping to get promoted to fries in a few years.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  37. Michael in Albuquerque, NM

    I've flipped burgers alongside of plenty of college graduates. It has been one of the constants in my life that has NOT changed in recent years.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  38. Steve, Clifton, VA

    If you listen to the president of the United States when he speaks of the Global competitiveness that the U.S should focus on, a College degree is extremely valuable.. However, if you look at the unemployment situation in the U.S today one has to question the value of that costly investment...

    June 13, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  39. Nate NC

    Yes and dramatically. The integrity of achieving a sound collegiate education has been tainted, if not lost. In one way, many online colleges are not accredited, yet they still allow people to have "a degree". In another way, college is so relatively affordable now that unfortunately anyone can walk into a college. This includes those that lack a true purpose for being there and were perhaps forced to go vicariously through family members that could not years ago.
    -Nate, NC

    June 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  40. Ray E. (Georgia)

    I think so. Education is always important. With today's job market it may harder getting employed but in the long run it will pay off.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  41. Alex in Wiscosin

    Well I'm young so i don't know the actual value of a college degree 20+ years ago. but the myth was that with a college degree, a family didn't have to struggle very hard to find work or have to take 2nd jobs to make ends meet. College was also more affordable. Since these conditions no longer apply, the value of a college education has definitely changed, and not for the better.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  42. Judie Wm's -- El Lago TX

    It only lessens in value if the recipient does not truly celebrate themselves for the accomplishments. Granted many graduates are working in fields they did not major in, yet the college degree/education is priceless and no one can take that away from them.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  43. Kirk (Apple Valley, MN)

    College degree? I don't need no steeking college degree? There ain't no jobs anyway!

    June 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  44. rheapdx1

    Sadly it has, this having to do with our society becoming less about being the intellectual and more about doing anything for money. Hence why we are producing less of those who are getting advanced degrees as opposed to those who want on, let's say American Idol. Plus the 'for profit' schools which advertise at all hours have cheapened the value of higher education to the point of it being as easy to get a 'degree' as one can grab a happy meal at the McDonald's drive through [assuming the person is not in deep in loans for 3 lifetimes].

    June 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  45. Larry Feierstein-Denver

    First let me say I graduated in the 60's. I was able to write a letter (let alone asentence) add, subtract, multiply and divide without a calculator and knew where most states of the union were located and many countries of the world. Do you think most grads can do that now? Not from the quality of work i see coming out of recent college graduates. In this day of high unemployment a liberal arts degree is virtually worthless, and unless you are a geek or med student, good luck.
    Think a Masters does much more? I work with many MBA's who have trouble figuring out a 15% tip. More time away from college then acutally in class. Breaks last longer and class days are done online. Things just "aint what they used to be"

    June 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  46. Ralph Spyer

    No but the cost of getting one has.

    June 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  47. Karl in Flint

    The emphasis today is on a college education for everyone, but for many it costs more than it’s worth. Not every job requires a college degree and not everyone is capable of earning one. When I graduated from high school in the 1960’s, I feel I had a better education then most Bachelor degree recipients toady. My grandmother used to say, “They may have graduated but they sure aren’t educated”. Book learning without the common sense behind it is worthless. Today common sense isn’t all that common.

    June 13, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  48. andyz Lynn, MA

    We have down scaled the value of an education in junior high school/middle school and high school. I wonder what we expected to happen.

    June 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  49. Kevin SD CA

    Why not just re-enact the military draft for everyone coming out of High School!
    These little narcissistic brats need some real life experience before they deserve, so called higher education at all! Supply and demand will make the value of education level out if we put all the boys and girls coming out of High School on the front line battlefields for at least 2 years before College!
    Yes, I mean put these wining little girls on the front lines also since Commander and Chief has been given away to women as a possible job title!

    June 13, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  50. Ryan Colpaart

    The value of a college diploma is not solely to have a degree on your resume. Higher education teaches you how to think in this complicated world.

    I was an average student at best in high school, but was able to attend and receive a 4 year degree from the University of Texas with some initial hard work at a community college.

    I believe the education you receive in high school is more focused on equipping you with the basic tools you need and is just a surface level of education.

    My college education on the other hand taught me how to take concepts and apply them to real world issues. In short it taught me to think and become a sponge for information.

    While a good job is preferable, I believe having an education enriches your life in many more ways.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  51. Andrew- Regina, SK

    The value of a college degree hasn't changed, but the value of a career choice has. I think what the recession is showing is that alot of the careers and jobs that require degrees are not worth going through higher education if your your degree would get you a job which makes less then $50,000 a year. Even if those jobs are needed to raise the children who may become scientists, newsmen, or even the guys who fix your cable box; it's rather sad to see how this recession has effected people in so many ways, both emotionally and mentally.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  52. Ken in MD

    College is worth it, but not for everyone. Trade schools, community colleges, and other post-highschool education facilities may be the better choice for many. We still need auto mechanics, stock clerks, fast food operators, and factory workers, but for the white collar world a college degree is absolutely essential. If only we could figure out a way to get the costs down.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  53. Cy Gardner

    The value of being an American has decreased. Why spend the cost of a good sized house for a degree that will overqualify you for most of the jobs in the New Depression. The Wall St. crowd started ruining America with Leveraged Buy Outs of healthy companies that they trashed for a profit. They are now doing that to our whole country. Flint, Michigan was the prototype for what the rich want to do to all of us. Corporations hate smart employees. They want unscrupulous desperate greedy people who will stab backs and kiss backsides. You don't need a degree for that. cy from Arllington, VA

    June 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  54. Richard C.

    College is too expensive; there are no jobs,anyway; So what's the point of the college degree. It seems that only athletes that get scholarships actually use college and that is to hopefully get big pro contracts. They don't teach common sense in college it's a waste for many.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  55. Denny from Tacoma

    Because of job outsourcing to other countries and the current state of our economy, the decreasing value of a college degree is proportionally opposite its increasing cost. Immense student loans are becoming a killer to success in many vocations.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  56. Matt Toohey

    Is it worth tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt when there are fewer prospects for a job in their chosen field? I am not sure but I have two teenagers so I better figure it out soon.


    June 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  57. Ray in Knoxville

    Jack, the fact is, the right wing of American politics think higher education leads to liberalism and an empowered middle class, which the right abhors. The majority of college students come from the middle class and the middle class has been destroyed by that unholy alliance that is the GOP. Sadly, a college education isn't worth the money anymore.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  58. Cy Gardner

    It's no fun being smart enough to see, learn and understand how the rich are destroying America. Ignorance is bliss. Maybe a college degree in prison administration could eventually pay off because after the rich destroy the middle class and sell all the jobs to Asia, we are definitely going to need more and bigger jails. cy Arlington, VA

    June 13, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  59. tanner

    Yes, it has. It's sad what we are seeing in today's educational system. Without a college degree, opportunities become less available. Today's system is feeding people biased and useless information that has nothing to do with the real world. Money is now the driving tool in educating people.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  60. Thom Richer

    It very well may have, Jack. If the high number of unemployed/under employed grads are any indication. Not to mention how difficult it is becoming to obtain a Bachelor"s or Master's degree. I have two extremely capable and qualified sons with degrees and cannot find a position in their fields or one that pays a living wage or security. Both are hard working and willing workers with the well known mid-western work ethic. They have gone from home town to several cities in search of work. Both struggle and exist from day to day. The youngest, with a BS, is back in school for his Master's as the BS is useless. The eldest has several degrees and is licensed in several areas. Architecture being one. Ready, willing, educated, experienced, available, hard working, and eager, yet cannot find security. They have again moved to another city, Minneapolis, to try once more. Need a good employee? Call Me.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    June 13, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  61. Jim Bailey

    While you are choosing the responses to put on air would you like fries and a large Coke with that order?
    Jim Bailey
    Cripple Creek

    June 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  62. Dan Geho

    I don't think the degree is worth less. Put simply, the "haves" want more and the rest of us get...What was it Reagan called it?....Oh, yeah. TRICKLED ON.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  63. Ken in NC

    You betcha, but if you want to keep your earnings potential high, it is suggested that you attend 5 different colleges and graduate from at least one of them with a BS.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  64. Ruff Russ

    We are living the Reagan Legacy of the service based economy.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  65. Jim from West Deptford, NJ

    Yes, the value has changed immensely. There is so much emphasis on college that a college degree is equivalent to a HS diploma years ago. You need graduate school to make you a better candidate. The degrees are way to over priced and our economy does not provide enough jobs that do not require a degree. The countries that are "smarter than America" still have manufacturing and trade jobs and so should America.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  66. Cal Galleazzi

    Yeah, i can't tell you how bleak the outlook is for me right now,

    I know way to many Grads who are working at a movie theater or gas station with their college degree.

    Its sad how much i invested into college and now the state owns me, i don't know how many years it will be til i'm free.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  67. DepnerM

    Yes the value has changed. Right out of college I didn't have a job and held out to get one that paid 42K/yr. with very limited benefits in technical sales. However after jumping around I got one in outsourcing for a jet engine manufacturer however am now not using anything I learning and doesn't require my degree but pays 10K more a year with more benefits. The degree is just to get my foot in the door.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  68. Nate

    A college degree may be costly, but it is absolutely necessary for someone hoping to enter the middle class.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  69. Nick B.

    The value of a college education is in the eye of the beholder. Sure, a college grad might end up at a job that doesn't require a college degree, but a college degree is about more than starting salary. There is a sense of pride in obtaining a college degree. Furthermore, when the economy turns around, a college degree will surely be worth more to employers.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  70. Dave

    It has changed in the form of initial compensation. In this recession it seems recent graduates are more likely to take the first job offered instead of waiting to get paid what they are worth. I am 24 and just received my masters degree. I have not received any job offers yet, so I will most likely take a less paying job understanding that it is a short-term survival decision.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  71. Chris


    As much as the recent economic difficulty has made it hard for college graduates to find jobs immediately, the value in a liberal arts college degree lies outside mere economic concerns. The rigor of the classes are meant to introduce students to citizenship and an adult manner of thinking about the world. Those lessons are the ones that will keep our economy afloat in the long run.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  72. Angelique Clark

    This topic is very dear to my heart. I'm a 35 year old female who just completed a Masters Degree in Marketing and I will in 6 months have over 100,000 dollars in student loans to pay back. With that being said I work for the Government and make only 36k a year, not nearly enough to survive in South Florida. There are many people whom I work with who do not have nearly the education that I have but are making more becuase I'm being told I have to have time in the system and education does not matter it is experience. This is going to become a horrible epidemic for US students who will not be able to pay for student loans becuase those in jobs that they need cannot and donot want to leave. The latest scene of the FBI knocking down doors because of late student loan payments is going to become the norm and that is something that I'm deathly afraid of and so the government should be scared too.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  73. Nate McHugh

    Yes. It seemed in my undergraduate experience, that my school was more interested in diversifying my thoughts about gender, sex and politics instead of actually teaching me a skill which would be attractive to employers.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  74. Adarsh R.

    In the short run, with the bad economy, the value has decreased, due to the lack of jobs for recent college graduates. Everyone knows that the economy will improve, even though the time that it will improve is still in question. Therefore in the long run, the value of a college degree will still be the same, if not larger.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  75. Gail Frischberg

    My son passed the bar 3 years ago after 2.5 years of law school. There seems to be no job out there for an inexperienced attorney and McDonalds, REI and a host of other companies won't hire him because he's overqualified. What to do? What to do?

    June 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  76. curtis in philadelphia

    College tuition needs to drop as much as home prices have, but even with that a college education would still be over valued.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  77. Wayne

    For the most part, college degrees are worthless. Here's a question for you Jack. If $27,000, the starting pay for a college graduate is 10% lower than it was in 2006-2008, what is that number when you factor in inflation since 2006?

    June 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  78. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio

    Mr. Cafferty:

    Yes the value has changed. A college degree is like real estate now. You paid the last mortgage payment on your house and now you own it but have the frustration of selling it for half the cost, if you can find a buyer !

    June 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  79. Peter Bonafonte, Tarrytown, N.Y.

    They must be worth a lot.
    I recieved my degree in 1963. Cost about $8K.
    Today's degrees can cost well over $100K.
    They must be worth more than mine.


    I earned over 500 times the cost of my degree during my working years.
    I seriosly doubt today's degrees will earn that ratio.
    My answer to your question.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  80. Mitch Dworkin - Dallas, Texas

    The answer is definitely "Yes" in my opinion Jack. I think that a college degree today is about like buying a lottery ticket when it comes to jobs. Most people who buy a lottery ticket lose but you have to buy a lottery ticket in order to have just a chance to win.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  81. Pat

    No doubt about it ! The only people going to college should be Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers and other PROFESSIONAL employment jobs. People don't need to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for degrees that they won't even use, forget about make money at!

    June 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  82. Yohann

    No Jack .. it is more imperative that Amercans get a good education ...remember when the grads in India and china made peanuts ? .... those guys (peanuts ) are now your bosses . There is another good reason ...ah.. ah Sarah Pailin !

    June 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  83. William

    There are only 3 types of jobs that you can get with a college degree, whether you just graduated or lost your job in the Great Recession. They are sales jobs, computer programmers and jobs that require certification to be in the field.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  84. Mary Hare

    I have worked in a community college in St. Louis, Missouri, for over 20 years, and I can certainly say that college education and the need for it has changed. Many students who come to college really do not want to be there and do not have the preparation to seek a higher education. They struggle with the requirements and often drop out in spite of our many efforts to keep them there. It is sad that we have lost so many of the good paying skilled jobs in our country so that those who would prefer not to go to college would have meaningful options. More emphasis needs to be placed on vocational education and jobs to go with it.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  85. Soni

    Let's face it. The only thing that is certain is that people are getting older. Degrees in healthcare are very valuable and most likely to stay in demand. Degrees in technology related areas will also be in demand. Unfortunately for the rest – a college education may not ensure a stable and lucrative future. That's sad.
    Soni from Texas

    June 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  86. Sonia

    Of course it has. Scads of students are out for a good time, taking five plus years to get a degree in some useless subject. Then they expect to get a job paying them some rediculous salary. When you have a degree in basketweaving, you'd better plan on sitting home.
    Sonia – Lake Ridge VA

    June 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  87. Gino from San Diego (via Buffalo, NY)


    As a student pursuing his third degree (Business, Law, Masters in Tax), and as a person who has tried desperately to find work with little experience and maximum diplomas, I can confidently say that MANY college degrees aren't worth the paper they are printed on, let alone the 100k (220k after interest) that it costs most students to obtain. The majority of the students I have met expend more effort on avoiding classwork than they do on leanring. The majority of school officials are more focused on using falsified job data to attract students than they are on teaching or directing students. The entire system is dedicated to giving students a place to hang out. We need more realism, more practicability and more of a focus on industry experience. Not simply a holding pattern for 18 year olds.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  88. Sydney

    First, the gov't tells people they need a college degree to compete, but the cost of college is astronomical and when some people graduate they're in debt up to their eyeballs. Then, if they find a job, it's usually a job that they could have gotten without the debt or the degree. Yes, college is always a good idea, if you can afford it. Community Colleges are gaining credibility because they are more affordable and people can learn a marketable trade. Or, get their core classes out of the way then transfer. Employers have qualifications requiring college degrees for jobs that people use be able to get without one, thus these jobs are remaining vacant. Why, because people don't want some of these jobs because they've been brainwashed into thinking that their college degree should yield a better return. It's a vicious cycle and it's not getting any better.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  89. James Szakonyi

    As an Engineering student taking online classes and working a full time job as an Electronics tech, I think the value of a college degree is what you make of it. Current students seem to forget that community service and prior work history also enter into the equation of salary. My only issue with the whole process is that for-profit colleges are so money hungry that they are graduating students with degrees who still can't properly research a subject or adequately report their findings without spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and unfounded conclusions improperly cited. These things do cause the value of a college degree to be diluted.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  90. Boyd

    I have to say it is a double edge sword a degree helps you to think out of the box, but doesnt provide you the means to pay student loans and cost of living expenses in the 21st century after 2001. As a Mechanical Engineer not working fulltime I have to say the best days of America are behind us. Infrastructure, roads, bridges, power plants, as well as our Military industrial complex are on a sharp decline. I feel the baby boomers have enjoyed the best of out country and left us with pollution, economic debt, and war to solve. Degrees can only educate you to combat and calculate so many problems at once. This country will restart from the 1930s once again.

    Boyd T New York, NY

    June 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  91. Eve in Texas

    Universities have oversold the value of degrees, particularly at the Ph.D. level. Many companies require a bachelors or masters degree, thinking they will get a more intelligent worker, though the worker may never use what they learned as a masters student. A Ph.D. is a research degree and those public schools whose superintendant job description requires it, is hiring a "researcher" not a manager. Eve, reitred professor

    June 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  92. Agatha

    The value of the college degree has fallen to where you need one to wash cars on the weekends. And yet a degree still costs more than some houses in the country.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  93. Chris

    Hi Jack,
    As long as the government and private sector employers allow nepotism to drive their hiring practices, a Bachelors or Masters degreed candidate is going to lose out to some extent. I have both a BS and MS and I continue to see people with nothing make the same amount of income.
    It does make you wonder if the degrees mean anything, however, I do believe that the people without a degree have gaps in their knowledge and can only work tasks or projects to a certain level, at which point they have to hand it off to someone, with a degree, to finish.

    So, I believe that it does matter. The only draw back is that I have a student loan payment whereas they do not.

    Not that I’m an education snob but I can at least say that I completed a degree and did it without someone else paying for it.


    June 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  94. Leslie

    My college degree changed my life. I went from being a security guard making $20,000 per year barely being able to pay bills without health insurance to getting a government job making $34,000 per year. Now I can manage my bills and have health coverage with a foreseeable future. Everyone should at least try and get their bachelor's degree. It is definitely worth it.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  95. Scott V.

    Having been a victim of the Madoffs of the College Loansharking business yes it's definitely a SCAM for a $30,000 piece of paper plus interest. Let's not forget the SWAT Teaming you get if you forget to pay or get laid off and can't pay. Fascism fully downloaded in America. Don't you feel proud.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  96. Roger

    The value of a college degree has long been overrated. Most students advancing into a university system are not required to take even the most basic of problem-solving classes, such as calculus I. And we've dumbed down our classes so athletes who cannot read or write can "earn" a college degree. Until we refocus educaton on reading, writing, science and math in public schools, a college degree in the U.S. will continue to be overrated.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  97. Rick McDaniel


    First, schools are offering degrees far afield from where they can be used, making personal relocation absolutely essential for any success at all. Worse, such schools are poorly recognized, for that training.

    Second, schools are promoting degrees in fields which are grossly over saturated, such as MBA degrees, where only a half-dozen schools int he country are well recognized, and only graduates of those schools, have much of a chance of success.

    Third, there are bachelors, masters, and yes, even doctorate degrees, running around, unemployed, or underemployed, by literally, millions, of degree holders.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  98. Stephen Charchuk

    No, it really hasn't changed, Jack. The average American has always picked the "career" that they felt would get them the most money for the least effort. That is why America has around 5% of the world's population, but has around a third of the world's lawyers as well.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  99. Angela NC

    It would appear that a degree today is worth little more than a high school graduation cetificate. We here that you now need a Masters degree to be considered for an interview, let alone a job. How soon before a PHD is the requirement?
    Are we dumbing down the whole process in order to have more graduates?
    New technology requires education, but wouldn't apprenticeships achieve this?
    In my day I was considered in the top 9% with a college education.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  100. Karen


    I'm a 24-year-old teacher and am one of the few recent graduates I know to get a job right out of college. I have a couple friends who were also lucky enough to find jobs. They are engineers. College education is as important as ever, but the role of certain degrees has changed. There is plenty of demand in fields like education and science and technology, but I don't think we need any more "general business" majors learning how to push paper around. College students today need to be smart when choosing their degrees.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  101. Aldo

    As a current college student myself, I know firsthand at the out of control cost for college. Year after year, I see my tuition bill go up and so do the cost of books. I don't know how I am going to recuperate all of that money within the next 10 years. Even though college is expensive, a college degree is still valuable in attempting to look for a job. The key to lowering the costs for college is opting to commute instead of dorming, renting your textbooks, and stop going to frat parties to drink all the time. Now that's a waste of money. You don't have to be deep in debt after receiving a college degree. So go for it but make sure you and your children are very frugal during those college years.


    June 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  102. Gigi Oregon

    I have seven grandchildren who have degrees in the past eight yeas.. All but two blame Bush. Thank Goodness some graduates can remember past two years and think for themselves. Don't start a rumor until you ask the young people how they'll vote. Some of their parents have lost homes or jobs in the past 4 (four) years and Pres. Obama can't be blamed for that. The corruption of wall street started under Bush. Your all about spreading rumor Jack.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  103. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    The Trades may just be the way to go. People will always need a plumber. A college education has been priced right out of the middle class's reach. Tuition has skyrocketed and the jobs these kids are getting don't justify the large loans they will have to repay. Harvard and Yale will always be full of the wealthy trust fund kids who don't need loans. How do you reapy a $100,000 loan when you are underemployed and can't find a job in your field? As I have said before–We are moving to a two class society–The Have's and the Have Not's.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  104. Kate

    Definitely. In our blended family, we have put 4.5 children through college and are so broke we don't know how we'll be able to retire. The oldest, who graduated in 1996, is making a six-figure income but just finished paying off her college loans. Her two younger brothers are doing okay but not great. Our 2011 graduate from UMass (after an illustrious high school high honors career), is now washing dishes. Meanwhile, our last child just finished an Associate's Degree at a community college and we are wondering whether it would be better for her to go to a trade school.

    College is the biggest inflationary racket going. Fees are distorted, textbook costs are ridiculous (and many kids, like mine, have found a way to get by without them), and most kids now are pursuing a Ph.D. in hopes of getting an edge even though their grammar stinks and they don't know American geography.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  105. Brett Strohl

    I graduated in '08 with a master's degree in mental health counseling. So far it's got me a job scrubbing toilets for $8 an hour, and a nice comfy room living in my parent's house. Why don't you tell me if a college is worth less than it used to be?

    June 13, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  106. Howard in Houston

    None of our leaders including Obama ever seems to mention that we have no job or income growth since about 1990 due to the fact that most policies by every administration has been to drive jobs overseas. We need to encourage business to keep jobs here. The GOP solution to cut corporate taxes is a joke. Just two days ago, Walmart announced it will spend $25 Billion to REPURCHASE its stock–that didn't create a single job. Recently Exxon-Mobil announced they will purchase another energy company for $16 billion- these companies aren't using tax breaks to build new factories or hire people. I say give these guys a 2 year zero tax but they have to spend it on jobs in USA or we retroactively take it back at 100%. That would give these college graduates a chance at new jobs here in the USA.
    Obama better get people to work or he will be like Jimmie Carter or George HW Bush–he will be a one-termer.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  107. Deborah Seibert,. Co

    Yes, but it will be valuable in the long run which is why so many illegals are trying to get into college on instate tuition. That will take spots away from citizens and further erode our independance.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  108. Naya

    Unfortunately, America is in love with the Jones or moving on up with the Jones. The college degree used to symbolize prosperity. Now a lot of makeshift schools give out degrees like people who turn on their faucet. The college degree has become worthless when everyone decided to "get" one. Also, the type of major is important. As a Liberal Arts major, I earned a Masters Certificate and still can't get a job. I owe over $22,000 in loans so of course, I want my presitigious degree to continue my middle class lifestyle. I went to a private school but I feel all education-public and private- should be reasonably priced. So college works for those who work in STEM fields.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  109. Harry Kelton

    Jack, don't lump all types of college degrees together and look at the average starting salary. Separate the sciences and engineering from the humanities such as art appreciation, music, and philosophy and look at the averages for the two groups.. Then you'll see how going to college and getting a serious technical degree still pays off.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  110. Anthony from Old Bridge

    I just finished my first year in college, and already I owe thousands of dollars. Many of my friends are not attending four year colleges for this reason; instead, they are entering the work force and the military right after high school. I have been taught all my life that going to college and receiving an education would pay off in the long run; but in a country still recovering from a recession and high unemployment rates, I fear that my diploma will be nothing more than a piece of paper. Hopefully by the time I graduate, our leaders can negotiate a solution and make the future brighter for my generation.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  111. Mary Ascher

    I am very proud to be an instructor (NOT a professor!) in the Wisconsin Technical College System. Although not available in every state, the technical education we offer comes with credentials - Associate Degrees, Diplomas and Certificates. We train people for jobs that are actually in demand. Our placement rates are well over 90% across the system. At Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, where I teach, our placement rates are about 98%. From our system, students can move into good-paying jobs in the workforce, or go on to the Baccalaureate level. We are the nation's best-kept secret!

    There are careers (welding is one example) where we consistently have more jobs than graduates. Why is that? Because parents of high school graduates are not aware of the new realities, and don't think that "a better life" for their children can be had without a BA degree. I hope you will read all or part of this message. We need students to train to be the technicians that this country needs to get us back on our feet. Maybe the parents and potential students will listen if YOU tell them, Jack! Thanks for your help and support.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  112. Brett Strohl

    I graduated in '08 with a master's degree in mental health counseling. So far it's got me a job scrubbing toilets for $8 an hour, and a nice comfy room living in my parent's house. Why don't you tell me if a college degree is worth less than it used to be?

    June 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  113. Aaron

    One's value of college degree should be personal. I sought higher learning to expand my understanding of the world around me, and to gain some practical skills along the way. However, if an individual is going to college solely for better job prospects, s/he needs to seriously consider the changing tapestry of the job market–in that they may never get to fully apply that college degree. Personally, I'm one of those who has a graduate degree from a top ivy league, but earns less that $25k/yr. One might think to get a cheap education in these uncertain conditions; however, one usually needs a degree from a competitive college to compete in this volatile market.

    New Haven, CT

    June 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  114. Alex

    It has become a flawed system here in America. You have always gone to college because it gave one hope for a a promising future, a good job, and a stable life. But with figures like these the hope is gone. A normal 4 year degree has now turned into a high school diploma. To stand out from the rest more education is needed however more education cost money that the average American does not have. We are coming into a new age, the bio-tech era, that requires massive amounts of education for a good job. A bachelor's degree is no longer enough. So untill the tuition cost is fixed there will never be efficient job growth merely because there are not enough people trained for the jobs coming up.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  115. Greg - New York, NY


    The value of an elite college degree ( from a Harvard, Stanford, Notre Dame or MIT etc ) can not be overestimated even today- it's your entry pass to corporate america or a fine graduate school even during economic recessions. The value of a degree from a middle tier or average school over the past 25 years has become the equivalent of a high school degree from our parents generation unless one majors in a technical discipline in high demand: math, computers, science, engineering or economics. While a liberal arts degree teaches you to think, write and communicate effectively, too many graduates, with no real skills or talents just trying to get their foot in the door to a life in middle management or underemployment. Too many people are finding themsleves in the position of having to go well beyond a bachelor's degree to live the life they dreamed and get the necessary skills they need. My advice – major & focus on what you love in college even liberal arts, but make sure you choose a double major in math, science or computer programming if you want a job and chance at the american dream. You need technical skills from an elite school to gain entry to the best jobs in the 2011 to 2020 economy, and a liberal arts degree is the equivalent of high school these days.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  116. Donald in New Mexico

    Education is the most important issue for the youth of our country. We are expecting the next generation to sustain Social Security and Medicare while dealing with our debt. Now when the "Baby Generation" is starting to go on S.S. and MC , the Republicans are trying to gut the programs. On top of that, they want to cut funding for education. Seems like we need some smarts out there. Fund Pre-K through yr. 16 !

    June 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  117. AmericanGreed

    I think anybody pursuing a degree isn't a waste of time for them. Americans are hurting out there and it's INSULTING to think colleges are increasing tuition costs. 27,000 a year average salary for college graduates is downright INSULTING!!! That's less than what some student spend on tuition alone for a year!! Higher education should always benefit students as well as society and not just corporate fat cats who got over.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  118. Charles Abel

    jack, The 9.1 percent unemployment is incorrect, by the time
    you add those that have given up looking and the 99ers the figure
    is around 15%.

    The figure that has to be factered in for todays college grads is
    student loans. Given the paltry amount being paid they can't
    possibly pay off these loans in a reasonable time without moving
    back home with parents or in-laws. These must be paid bankruptcy
    does not erase student loans. Thank you to congress for this.

    Wasn't it supposed to be each generation is supposed to be better
    than the previous, enough said.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  119. Bill Paustenbach

    It's all about supply and demand again, Jack. Sounds to me like the ever growing numbers of baby boomer children will be facing dismal job possiblilies for years to come as companies learn to produce more with less. Hundreds or thousands of like candidates standing in line for the few jobs available certainly does not inspire great starting salaries. But, this growing number of high-schoolers entering college does inspire colleges and universities to jack up the costs of degrees. Maybe this is a very good time to start looking at a re-thinking of our educational goals. Not everyone is suited for college. Euorpean countries have already recognized the need for competent trade schools for a large portion of their high school graduates. Maybe that's not a bad idea.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  120. HJ - Saint Paul, MN

    I don't know how much the actual value has changed, but I can tell you one thing for certain. The question has changed from "what is your degree in?" to "do you have one?" Schools are pushing students out as fast as possible, as cheap as possible. I can't think of a single career where you come out of school ready to perform the actual work. You go, get a degree, and apply for whatever job you want. Ace the interview and it really doesn't matter. On the job training takes care of the rest.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  121. Dean

    Well, perhaps when a college education pays 12000 dollars a year we'll be able to manufacture products that can be sold competitively in the world market, our standard of living was never normal for the rest of the world and the party is over.
    New Mexico

    June 13, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  122. Kyra

    Why ask a redundant question, Jack? Of course it's value has changed. These days, its invaluable. Credentials mean everything in the current job market, but so does experience. My advice to anyone who wants a good job they can keep: invest in a degree in science and be prepared to work while attending graduate school or some advanced post graduate program in some profession that is related to one's area of study. That's the only way you are guaranteed not to end up in a job below one's educational level. Medical and scientific fields are going to be the only areas of job growth for the next couple of decades. It's the only sure bet for anyone entering college now.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  123. Weldon from Fredericton New Brunswick Canada

    A college degree is just a validation of going to a higher learning institute on paper. I taught for years at a highly reputable company and had college and university graduates go through the basic program and had a high number of these graduates fail. In fact there were more failures from these highly reputable learning centers than there were from high school graduates.

    You have to put the academic learning to practical use!!!!

    June 13, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  124. Rebecca Murley

    Last year, January 2010 at 60 years of age I achieved my doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. Since that time, 17 months, I have applied for literally hundreds of jobs. My experience is admirable and with impecable references. So were my years of education worth what it once was? Apparently not.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  125. T Cowart from Atl

    Absolutely the value has changed! When i decided to drop out of my school's microbiology program and get a job because i was 'bored', everyone thought I was crazy. Fast forward a few years later, not too many of my friends have jobs where they make more than I do, they all have more debt and non of them have the flexibilty to travel as I've had ( I visited six other countries in my time off). At 27, i',m looking for motivation to finish my degree.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  126. Bob in Florida

    Seriously Jack! Of course a degree is worthwhile. Just look at the shining examples we have. Doesn't virtually all members of Congress have one?

    June 13, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  127. Chris in DC

    Hi Jack,
    As long as the government and private sector employers allow nepotism to drive their hiring practices, a Bachelors or Masters degreed candidate is going to lose out to some extent. I have both a BS and MS and I continue to see people with a HS Edu. make the same amount of income of just slightly less.
    It does make you wonder if the degrees mean anything, however, I do believe that the people without a degree have gaps in their knowledge and can only work tasks or projects to a certain level, at which point they have to hand it off to someone, with a degree, to finish.

    So, I believe that it does matter and as a the only draw back , I have a student loan payment whereas they do not.

    Not that I’m an education snob but I can say proudly that I completed it and paid for it myself.


    June 13, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  128. mark in arkansas

    Jack, I'm not sure if it's better to start a career owing $100,000 for a school loan, or go to a tech school for a year, and learn a specific trade that you can earn a living at the day you walk out the door. Yes, you get your hands dirty, but people with clean hands are always willing to hire those that want to get their hands dirty.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  129. Harry Kelton

    Jack, Too many people are going to college and getting junk degrees.

    Don't lump all types of college degrees together and look only at the overall average. Separate the sciences and engineering from the humanities such as art appreciation, music and philosophy, and then calculate the average for each group separately. Then you'll see how a serious technical college degree pays off.

    Harry Kelton
    Miami FL
    BS Mechanical Engineering (Purdue)1948

    June 13, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  130. Mr. D

    The value of a college education must be up since the cost to obtain a degree has skyrocketed. Who would have thought that it would take such a large outlay of cash to get a job at McDonalds. What a country.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  131. Derek in Denver

    Most assuredly it has. My Master in Architecture I received in '05 from a private (read expensive) art and design school has been basically worthless for the past three years. Looking back now I would have been better off just learning a couple computer programs utilized by architectural offices.

    This could have been achieved at a community college for much less. Even then I'm not sure I would have a job in the decimated architectural field. As it stands now I have been in three jobs that do not require any sort of diploma. I still have hope, however dismal it may look, that the effort and expense put forth for the worthy degree I obtained will pay off.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  132. John in Phoenix

    The value of a college degree has certainly declined, but the value of a good education is priceless.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  133. dave in nashville

    I put four kids through college, one at an Ivy school and was fortunate to be able to pay cash for all four.

    That was in the 90's and their incomes do not justify the cost; the money would have been better spent starting a business, which is exactly what colleges are.

    Biggest joke ever saying you need a degree.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  134. John in Reno

    As outlined in Friedman's "The World is Flat", post secondary schooling is more important now than ever. I would personally emphasize two thoughts to a student graduating high school. First, that trade schools offer good paying careers after only a few years of training, and often in jobs that are hard to ship overseas; and second, the option to take a year off after senior year to get a better idea of what it is you actually you want to study in college. I personally floundered for years while racking up 1000's in student loan debt.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  135. Matt from Florida

    Unfortunately, more and more "degree required" positions are now being filled with experienced(5+ years) applicants who are receiving entry level salaries. The job market is flooded with "over qualified" candidates making it a lot harder for new graduates to find work in their field. I would have to say; even more so in recent years, the value of a college degree has become severely diminished. With the struggling economy, job market and the costs of college rising, it almost doesn't make sense for the average, middle income american to attend college.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  136. Tom Stites

    A degree that challenges a students interests, talents, and skills remains the most valuable attainment of his/her life. However, with parental emphasis on going to college, and colleges focused on increasing enrollments, many students endure the process with a single strategic goal: graduation. Bewildered and idealistic , they succumb to the forces of structured processes, like a pachinko ball to gravity. Most end up with degrees that are soft variations of something fruitful, then struggle for years trying to find a niche. If everyone has one (degree), McDonald's will be hiring them.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  137. Joel

    Me and my wife have degrees and we can't even get a job in our field. We have to suffer because of what our government has done with our money. My govenor is cutting jobs all over the state, while he treats himself to using the states helicopter to go to his sons baseball game. As for me im trying to see where I can get a decent paying job. Its really hard going to work with a college degree and getting paid less than the cost of living. ALL THAT MONEY FOR COLLEGE FOR WHAT? TO STILL BE UNDER THE COST OF LIVING!

    June 13, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  138. william fitzwater

    I have a 4 year degree in Information Tech graduated in 04. Worked 15 years with a Associates in electrons. Now I can't even find a job that earns 18 hour some cases less. I'm on the hook for 100,000 student loans that can't be written off.
    What's wrong with our country when college education is not valued. My problem is I'm underwater in my investment in my education. Its values in term of what it costs in time and finances. Yet in China & India they turn out many people with advanced degree .
    Right now its a fire sale in terms of employment. Corporate America gets it and is putting screws on applicants by putting the squeeze on me so much non working America is bone dry.
    Some of them come here . The Republicans have plan to further gut our safety net. I have diabetes and use the country idengent care program. Yet they are more than happy to gut the new health care law . Thier attitude is drop dead. I'm on food stamps and general assistance yet they are happen to gut my help and throw in down a corporate rat hole.
    I'm very disappointed with the President jobs progress of lack as "abysmal".

    June 13, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  139. Victoria in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    I work in Human Resources and it's my opinion that you still need a college degree to get a decent paying job in America (read: $30k a year or more). If anything, I think that job seekers need a college degree to get the jobs that high school graduates could easily get ten years ago ($24k or more), such as a fast food franchise manager. It's a competitive job market out there, and having a college degree is still the base mark.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  140. Robert from Canada

    Indeed it has Jack!

    30 years ago if you wanted to secure an excellent paying job, a bachelor's degree was more than enough. Now, you need to get a Masters for the big bucks. Sad part is that you will spend a fortune to pay off your tuition fees. Whatever, I'll just rob a bank.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  141. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    All employment applications still ask for your highest level of education, etc. and in most cases the person with the college degree will get the job with the promise of promotion and higher pay.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  142. Ralph A. Santillo

    Since most of the new jobs created in the past few years are $7 to $12 an hour, I don't think we need to spend thousands on a degree. My Grandaughter is a recent grad with a masters in history, she works at game-stop as an assistant manager at $10 per hr, 30 hour work week. She owes over $100,000 in student loans. I counsel an Iraq ( 6yrs) veteran who is 32, just completed 5 1/2 years to get a degree in Criminal Justice. He thinks he will go back into the service!! When is Washington going to wake up and help us "used to be middle class" Americans.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  143. Alchemy

    America's future is gone to China, and India. Why do Americans cried about it? Our leaders have allowed high tech jobs move to China and India. Wake up and look around you everything is made from China and India nowadays. You don't have to go to college anymore because your jobs are flipping hamburgers in McDonald. The Chinese people are laughing to death because our leader sends all high tech jobs to them and put them to become #1 in the world.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  144. Joe Ft Walton Bch Fl

    It hasn't changed. Always it depended on the degree and its demand in the economy.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  145. Anissa from Wilmington, North Carolina

    Yes, the value of a college degree has changed in recent years due to the fluctuation of the economy. 2008 was a time full of economic success when students were able to major in subjects ranging from english, psychology, social work, business, law, to engineering, but now, young college graduates cannot find jobs because of their particular chosen major or degree. Engineering, science, and healthcare are the best fields to go into at this time.This should be the focus of our students. Students should no longer decide to major in areas where the jobs cannot be found.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  146. Stephen

    Yes, the value of college degrees has decreased. The lone wish of my mother was if she were to die, was to finish college. It was supposed to be a "ticket" to a better life. Now the market of college degrees is flooded with online programs, certificate programs etc. Also, the median income is lower than in 1988, yet gas prices have tripled. Also, the gap between the upper and lower class is wider than ever before. And we wonder why we have a bad economy. Im questioning having kids because in 20 years you will have to be a millionaire to put a few kids through college. Inflation, faulty diplomacy, corrupt wall street, and loss of intellectual property have devastated the United States future. Did I mention that more kids are learning English in China than in the US and UK? And there are more college aged males in India than the total population of the US?

    June 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  147. kathy from peoria az

    To the person who says professors pass you with having a left wing ideology hasn't been to college. My daughters both attend ASU and they don't just pass you. If anything they try to fail you before they pass you. My husband said the same thing when he graduated over 20 years ago. Maybe you should try college because its worth it even if it is very hard and my husband is an electrical engineer.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm |