Is college worth it?
September 11th, 2012
03:40 PM ET

Is college worth it?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Turns out a four-year college degree might be a lousy investment.

Newsweek magazine reports in this week's cover story that for a growing number of young people, the extra time and money spent getting a college diploma will leave them worse off.

Many are pointing to the troubling similarities between college tuitions and the housing bubble:

Things like the rapid increase in tuition prices at rates higher than inflation, and people borrowing large sums of money and incurring huge debt.

Part of the problem is that the federal government has increased student aid big time. More people are taking loans - and students are told that this is "good debt," that they're investing in themselves.

But what kind of investment is it if you can't find a job when you graduate?

It's estimated that as many as two-thirds of undergrads come out of school with debt. For many, their loan balances are in the tens of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile half of all recent college graduates are either unemployed or have jobs that don't require a degree. And many are in debt up to their ears from student loans.

As Newsweek writes, "these graduates were told that a diploma was all they needed to succeed but it won't even get them out of the spare bedroom at mom and dad's."

Of course there are all kinds of degrees: a degree in engineering will help you find a job and pay off your loans a whole lot quicker than a liberal arts degree.

But, it's past time to rethink how we invest in higher education.

Some say we should put more young people to work through apprenticeship-style programs where they learn specific jobs skills and also "soft skills" - or how to succeed in the workplace.

Here’s my question to you: Is college worth it?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: Education
soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. Zac Hoffman

    College is worth it! Ive learned everything I've ever needed to know at school and would not be as successfull without the experiences and lessons instilled in me without it. Yeah I might be in debt up to my nose but it seems worth it for the better jobs and opportunities available to me now as a result.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  2. jk in MN

    Right now, it's over priced for what the job opportunities are out there. You can thank the Corporate Greed for much of it; outsourcing jobs off shore.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  3. Gary in San Jose, California

    College is absolutely worth the money. That being said, it's not a cure all and it's not an excuse to spend exorbitant amounts of money on impractical studies. A degree will open doors that would otherwise be shut but people have to prove themselves once given the opportunity.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  4. Jenna Roseville CA

    Is college worth it?

    It depends on the job. You don't need a college degree to sell hamburgers at McDonalds, but you need on to be a doctor.

    If we really want to be a world leader we need to have an Educated Public. We need to make education a priority here and we need to respect educators.

    Roseville CA

    September 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  5. Susiebjoe

    In 1979 I became a single Mom of four. As an uneducated single Mom I went to a free two year college and became a two year RN. I supported my family and all of my children received University Degrees. Having said all that, I make a deceint living with my RN degree because Registered Nurses have many sellable skills, but my children and their friends struggle because the degrees they received do not translate to skills they can use in the real world.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  6. lou

    The first time I ever spoke with a person from another race was when I left my small town in Iowa and headed to Iowa State University. I took classes from professors who had written books, traveled the world, made new discoveries, and put more emphasis on thinking than the rote memorization of high school. The whole college experience made me a better person. College is definately worth it, but some degrees are more marketable than others.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  7. thorazinedc

    Every penny of it and every minute of it! That is, of course, if you can get there with all the other problems with education in this country, not to mention the "war" on it regarding loans, costs, and of course strikes a la Chicago! But yes, I would never change my decision despite the nearly $250,000 price tag mine came with! A real worthwhile investment no one can take away!

    September 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  8. RickFromDetroit

    Is college worth it? College, like any education and/or OJT, [on the job training] benefits some while it is a waste of time for others. Education is like an art, if you have the skills to perform the job, and you are interested in the type of skills you are taught, you will do well. An artist who never went to school can paint a better picture than many who spent years in school learning to paint. A musician who can't read music my play a better instrument that a music major.

    For the most part, education locates, refines, and exploits the skills that an individual is interested in, or was born with. The best way to disrupt these skills is to have pay scales that reward one and penalizes another. When this type of policy is implemented, we will have office workers driving trucks and sweeping streets, gangsters working for law enforcement, and the majority of the talent we are seeking wasting away in the wrong line of work. Furthermore, many of the best paying jobs will only hire someone they like vs someone with the skills they are looking for, but when all else fails, we can make politics, sports, and entertainment our leading industries, they pay better than engineers & technicians.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  9. September in Wyoming

    College is definitely worth it. I'm talking about the people you rub shoulders
    with, the human thinking through the ages you discover......it makes you a more
    polished, well-rounded person. This is aside from whatever financial benefits you
    reap. I do feel that most employers like to hire someone who had the ability
    to achieve any college degree. This person can read, write and think, not just click

    September 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  10. Mark, Oklahoma City, OK

    Only if your degree is in a field where you can actually find a job and you don't borrow your entire life's income to accomplish it.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  11. thorazinedc

    Worth every penny and every minute of it. That is of course if you can get there with the "war" on education regarding loans, costs, and even strikes a la Chicago. But yes, despite the nearly three quarter of a million dollar price tag mine came with, I would do it all again. One of the few worthwhile investments that cannot be taken away from us no matter what! – Dr. Ken, Miami, Florida

    September 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  12. Gary H. Boyd

    It depends upon what a person wants to do in life Jack. There are essentially two roads to success - one requires collage the other a skill or trade. Considering the cost of a college education these days, the decision and committment to pursue college must be genuine and with a specific goal in mind. Two of our three sons have college degrees,. the third went into the trades - air conditioning and refrigeration. I'm proud to say all three are very successful.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    September 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  13. 1Hiflyer

    Is college worth it? Not unless you can do it on grants or if you can ask your parents as Mitt Romney suggests. Student loans have become the worst possible debt since private banks are the primary holders of these loans instead of government. Since private banks are doing it the laws have changed to where you can never get rid of the loan except by paying it off. Even the death of the student doesn't relieve the grieving parent of the debt. Secondly, college is not worth it if you are going to take courses that steer you to working a job instead of starting your own business. There should be more classes that teach people wealth principles instead of just work principles.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  14. Pete in Florida

    It depends on the student. It's certainly worth it for those that work and study hard to earn good grades and a marketable education, and it's not usually necessary to run up huge debts while doing so. But it's a waste of time, effort and money for those who go to college mainly to party, chase coeds and get drunk at football games. Those folks should go serve our country for several years, until they're mature enough to understand WHY they're in college and thus apply themselves while they're there.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  15. Amitoj Singh

    New Jersey
    As one who recently graduated from a College here in New Jersey, to be honest, a college degree means nothing anymore. While being in the job market for quite a few long months with interview after interview, what does a Bachelor's degree even mean to certain employers? It's either higher education on top of that, or a lot of experience, or some licenses on top of that to have a stacked resume. And I still haven't started paying off my student loans yet. With tuition on the rise who knows anything anymore.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  16. Angel

    Yes and no. higher learning institutions will lower their admission standards in order to accepts students, knowing the system will weed them out. Those students will end up in debt and without a degree. Meanwhile those institutions will profit from the unaccomplished dreams of those students. SOME 1 should be held responsible, beside the student who were fed with advertising and dreams ever since high school from such institutions.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  17. Mel - Houston

    As long as we live in a highly technical society it is worth every penny. However, a young person should do his or her homework before they go to college in order to find a field of study that will be worth the money they will spend. A college student majoring in the arts should maybe it over again. A law degree, as prestigious as it may sound, is a very competitive field and unless a student graduates with honors the prospect of a high paying job are small. A diploma by itself will not buy much whereas a diploma in bioscience will.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  18. Pete in Georgia

    A college degree today is like a High School diploma 40 years ago. Without it almost every door to oportunity is closed so YES, it's worth it. The benefits far outweigh the liabilities.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  19. Steve, Clifton, Virginia

    College is no doubt worth the time and the education but because the rate of cost for college has grown disporportionately with earnings and to a point to where the average American cannot afford to go to college, the worth it question is now questionable. If we are to compete as a nation in the future, a college education is an absolute minimum criteria.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  20. ken, atlantic city, nj

    Not with a 50% unemployment rate for new college grads.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  21. Fred Colby

    College usually is a benefit but not a guarantee. I became a reporter. I loved my work but most jobs were little better than minimum wage.
    Menominee, MI

    September 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  22. Joe In MO

    College is worth it if you go at it in a practical way. Students have to choose marketable majors and do all possible to hold down costs. College was worth it for my wife and I. And it has been worth it for our son and his wife.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  23. calaurore9

    For my nephew who is a star-salesman and happy in his vocation, college was never going to be worth much. For others, if it is the key to a career, maybe. It depends if there are opportunities to bridge academia with doing what you want to do in the real world.

    Carol in NOrthampton, Ma

    September 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm |

    tampa, fl not for me it wasn't. i learned more in 2 weeks out in the real world on the job over all my years in school. why spend so much on a degree when our govt will allow companies to off shore it just as you graduate?

    September 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  25. Doug Ericson

    From a parents point of view, 3 kids in College, ( two recent grads, one still in college), has been personally rewarding, and exceptionally expensive at the same time. In a more perfect world, we would be allowed a tax deduction for tuition payments. But since the crooks in Congress would rather dole out more money than they take in, making life more fair for your average mom and pop is the last thing on the Politicians minds. The Politicians know we are going to vote them back in, Democrat or Republican, take your pick, you get the same result. It will be interesting to see how this whole College debt thing plays out Nation wide, over the next couple of decades. Doug, Pepperell, MA.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  26. Jake Austin, Texas

    College is not worth going into debt for ove a 100,000 dollars unless one intends on becoming a doctor.
    Our grandson graduated in May debt free, but it took a lot of help via grants and his working part time to do it.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  27. Richard Texas

    It is hard to say Jack. A person can get a 4 year degree and never find a job to pay back the loans. Nothing is certain anymore. The only real plus I can see in an education today is you will be able to read about all the other people who can't find work either.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  28. Marcus J., ATLANTA, GA...

    I come from a low income family and a first generation college graduate. I acquired a double Master's Degree. In 2010, I became unemployed and began working a part time job with over $100,000 in student loans. My two loan payments were over $1000 a month. Trying coming up with an extra $1000 in this economy. I have had my loan in deferment for one year. I can't afford to go back to school to acquire more education out of fear of more debt. Students' loan, not worth it. I wish I would have stayed at my part time job and went to a State funded community college. Student loans debt which is over $914 billion dollars will be the next crises in the financial market. Student loan debt will destroy our economy far more than the mortgage crises. What happens to people who have student loan monthly payments that is more than their mortgage payments? I smell defaults loans and an economic crisis.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  29. susan in Ohio

    Oh my goodness, yes college is worth it; not just for the individual, but for our country as a whole. Look around at what's going on. We're raising a generation that values thumb games, itunes, and dancing with stars more than knowledge and self-improvement. Even the president I voted for (and will vote for again) said to his girls in his convention speech, "Yes, you have to go to school tomorrow!" Though he said it in jest, that right there tells you the mindset of kids. School is a burden, not a luxury.

    It's scary stuff. I don't like to be "Chicken Little" but we are in big, big trouble here. Mental fire-power is getting scarce. Something's gotta give, and I'm afraid it's our society. Eastern countries find worth in knowledge, personal responsibility and old people (yes even old people!). It's true that we have a lot of freedoms here and I know that's wonderful, but we need a big-time change in how education is viewed by our society. But... probably not gonna happen.

    Mansfield, Ohio

    September 11, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  30. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    Yes, I get much better temp jobs with a college degree. It means my floor is higher than without one. It is still a much needed credential for graduate school and government service. It is also be the best place to learn how to write on demand, which is always more pleasant than washing a bus tray full of dishes.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  31. Name Ed from California

    Jack....college costs are too much, and there are not enough good paying jobs to pay off the student loans. Oh ya.... I forgot....just ask mom and dad for a loan.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  32. Wilhelm in Las Vegas

    only IF it leads to a SKILL that will get a student the JOB that that they want. I personally went to a technical school and, after aditional training in the military, eventually ended up with the flying job that had been my life long dream.

    reading Shakespeare, "music appreciation" and other "general" college courses would NOT have gotten me there.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  33. Loren, Chicago

    Thinking about my college graduate son working a minimum wage job right now, I can't say for certain that it is. I hold out hope that he rediscovers his path and can make use of his degree. As it stands now, the greed exhibited by our leaders leaves little room for hope in a better future for our children. Hopefully, they will rediscover the value of a balanced economy, and get over the foolish belief that America can productively survive as purely a service economy. We need manufacturing businesses and jobs, we need agricultural businesses and jobs, and we need service businesses and jobs. Those businesses and jobs will restore value to a college education.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  34. Jim in Denver, CO

    Definitely a College education is worth it. It helped me get my career (26 years now). The problem is is it affordable for the average family/person. Because the way the GOP is looking to do things it will only be affordable for the 1% kids. The middle class has to strengthen and grow if we want the US economy as a whole to grow. The way it was done before was with people on the GI bill getting their college degrees, and we need something like that again.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  35. Kevin in CA

    The answer to that depends if your career job will be Globalized – aka off-shored.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  36. Brad, Portland, OR

    Not anymore. Costs too much, helps too little.

    If you're going to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer, then you still have to go. For almost any other job: businessman, working retail, being a plumber, working at CNN :-), college isn't really necessary, and it just loads you up with huge amounts of debt you'll be paying back for the next 20 years.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  37. T. from texas

    No. But going to a junior College is.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  38. BOB

    If you end up washing down anti-anxiety and sleeping pills with alcohol every day to deal with your career choice, no. If you can't sleep because you can't wait to go to work the next day, yes.

    September 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  39. Ken in Pinon Hills, California

    Certainly, in America's flourishing job market, one with a degree can go from flipping burgers, and step up by putting on a headset and test their communication skills at the order window..

    September 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  40. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Yes, but these students should not just borrow money unless it is from their parents as Mr. Romney suggested. They should work and go to school and stay out of the bars. I left college without any loans and would never have been able to get a good paying job without a degree but I worked and was blessed to have the GI bill to help.

    September 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  41. Paul, Parry Sound, Ontario

    You can't think of this question just financially. Without an education you'd be condemned to going through life as a Republican.

    September 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  42. doug

    Yes. pick a major and stick with it. these can be some of the best years of your life.
    you will be guaranteed much more money starting out.

    September 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  43. Pat in Michgan

    Yes it is, but the very fact that we are having to ask the question is a bit disconcerting .Yes it is expensive!Yes our children or parents end up with debt.
    My qiestion is this. Should only the rich be allowed to a higher education?Should only White Christans be allowed? Should we ban all non American citizens?Jack What is you're answer to this question?

    September 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  44. Kim, Dodge City, Kansas

    The cost of a college education is like borrowing money from a loan shark to go gamble in Vegas. A college education is not a ticket to fame and fortune and that is contrary to what has been pounded into us since birth. I know plenty of people with a college degree that have zero common sense, few usable people skills, and they feel that somebody owes them some level of respect because they attended this or that college. College is not worth what they charge for it.

    September 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  45. Ron G from Florida

    Its only worth it if you get the right education, some college degrees are worth every penny, some are not
    worth the paper there printed on. The value is in the need.

    September 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  46. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: Knowledge is power; whether it be in small or large amounts. It is the good common sense that God gave us(if there is any left in the world) that will eventually contribute to our success!

    September 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  47. David, Tampa

    I graduated from high school in 1967, spent 4 years in the Air Force and used my GI Bill to go to college. If by "Worth It" you mean the rewards of education to think as the primary reward, then yes I would say college was worth it then as it would be today. Is there any other purpose to education than to improve the person? Money and toys aren't the goals of education, or at least I would hope not. As an old commercial goes, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." If you don't believe me why is this country and most of the world in such dire straights (not the band).

    September 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  48. Jim Charlotte NC

    With companies sending so many jobs overseas why does anyone need a college degree to do service work. School teachers being used as babysitters no need for a college degree for that job.

    September 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  49. chris

    only if afterwards you get a 50,000 plus salary per year

    September 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  50. Kimmy, in beautiful NC

    Well let's see Jack, my son got a merit scholarship that paid about 60% of his tuition. He received a business degree in 2010. He is now working at that same college for a whopping $25,000 a year. I am paying the balance of his tuition at a rate of $220 a month. If I didn't pay his tuition, he would still be living at home with me. I don't think his beautiful bride would appreciate that. He makes less in one year than the cost of one semester of college. And he commuted! So to answer your question, right now, at the start of his career, no it is not worth it. BUT when Romney is elected, the job market will surely improve. Ask me again next year.....

    September 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  51. cy gardner

    When the supply of educated, well trained, debt ridden Americans can't keep up with demand in areas like Information Technology, rest assured the corporate owned back stabbers in Congress will let in a flood of well trained immigrants to lower wages and benefits. The only way to make college pay is to get an MBA and steal the rest of us suckers blind. It's the new American Way. cy from arlington, va

    September 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  52. Terry in Virginia

    Judging by our colleged-educated representatives in Congress - NO. I doubt they could change a light bulb.

    September 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  53. Ray in Knoxville

    Jack, as long as we accept the notion that corporations as people are more valuable than actual people, then no, a college degree is not worth the money spent earning it. The drive for insane profits is not only killing the value of a college degree, much like it is killing American values and, indeed, America itself.

    September 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  54. Dave, Kissimmee, FL

    That’s a numbers game, isn’t it? And that assumes the numbers apply to you. The guestimate you have to make is; will things get better in the foreseeable future? Or, will the cost of your education be more than any financial benefit that degree will produce over your lifetime? No easy answers. But then the short-sighted Republicans are just fine with all that; they rather you not get an education. They can’t see how counter-productive that would be for the country.

    September 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  55. Karl in Flint, MI

    It is worth it, in this economy, if one is going into a profession that is in demand like education or anything medical or technical. If you are going to take Art History or Music Appreciation, then you are doing it for personal fulfillment and not to make money at it. In that case don't plan on paying off your student loans or make a living off such degrees and it wouldn't be worth it to me.

    September 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  56. Johnny C (from Los Angeles)

    Hi Jack –

    Yes ... Attending College is worth it. It not only provides the opportunity to specialize in a specific field of interest, it allows the student time to mature for four more years before entering the workforce.

    The issues at hand are not the education, rather, the ability to find and obtain a job that utilizes that education. As for the cost, it is spiraling upward faster than medical costs. The real question here is why is it becoming so costly so quickly. I may be wrong, but it certainly seems that our poorly run state governments and their level of debt is driving up the cost, certainly not the rate of inflation.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  57. Michael Goss

    Unless you're not a self-thinker who can't stand on your own two feet, college isn't necessarily integral to success. Sure, it's necessary for some professions, but a majority of jobs require more common sense than the information a textbook will spoon feed you. I graduated high school early, Jack, and I'm already developing software and running a startup at 17.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  58. Overby

    What happened to the days when if you didn't save enough on your own or your parents couldn't pay your way, the kids actually got jobs while in school? And we still had plenty of time to party while we finished school. This whole notion of college loans is nuts....

    September 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  59. John from Santa Maria, CA

    I like to say that my B.A. in History and a-dollar-fifty will get me coffee. But that's not true, my college experience has taught me to think better and comprehend better than those who have not had the benefit of college. It has truly enhanced my overall life experience, and as soon as Obama gets re-elected and we get a Democratic majority in both houses of congress, all those young people with degrees will be able to find work, not trickle-down-work.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  60. Frank Poynton from Los Angeles

    It's worth it to bankers, college professors, and any bar owner near a campus. As for the sheepskin, apparently its now worth the paper its printed on. Wether they realize it or not, when graduates with degrees go looking for work they are actually enrolling into the school of hard knocks. Perhaps that will build character.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  61. Jeff In Minnesota

    I think it depends on the individual. Not everyone is meant to go to college or has the ability to make it through four years. Some people are better off going through vocational education to learn a skill such as a CNC programmer. Not everyone is geared to be a lawyer, accountant, doctor, etc. We also need to get rid of the perception that a vocational school is some sort of remedial education environment. I can tell you from personal experience that I know a number of people with two and four year vocational degrees that are making good money in manufacturing, construction and other trades – more than my friends with four year college degrees. And some of those college degree individuals are out of work at the moment.

    In my opinion, the US needs to develop a two track education process. One track takes you through what is necessary to meet the rigors of college. The other track focuses on a vocational skill be that an auto mechanic, chef, electrician, plumber or other valuable skill. This is what they do in a lot of Europe and it makes sense. The idea being is that everyone needs to have a skill. However, European educators recognize that "university" is not the goal for everyone, nor should it be.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  62. Gigi Oregon

    I think we might be better off to send our students overseas and educate them where they might find a better education for less cost, since we are so far down from the list of top countries in education. And most everything else. Health care, educations, guns not the high priority, lower prison rates, peace of mind, etc. How about one of those ten happiest countries in the world...Works for me. And since we are sending U.S. jobs overseas maybe a better place to find one...after getting a degree. How about one of those countries that take care of their people before going to war...

    September 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  63. Ethan, North Carolina

    Jack, I believe college actually is worth it if you can afford it, but getting students loans is crazy. People end up getting stuck in debt with student loans until their around age 45 and up!

    September 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  64. Ram Riva

    YES!!!....of course it is....what now the Teaparty/GOP wants a bunch of ignorants so that they can controll them??.....these are not the middle ages you know....the thinking voter will decide this election...

    September 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  65. resawven

    the first job everybody has, is doing what your told. It doesn't matter if you have a degree or not, nobody is teaching this skill anymore!

    September 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  66. Rachel

    Jack there is 3000 job that need qualify people they need school to fill those jobs what are you talking about

    September 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  67. Walter Greason

    Professionalization is killing the American student, worker, and future entrepreneur. Technical and soft skills are no replacement for the critical thinking and innovation IQ that liberal arts colleges like Swarthmore, Williams, and Muhlenberg provide. College costs need to be controlled by exposing charlatan schools that inflate prices without providing a quality education.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  68. mario rene torres

    no is not worth it.
    books on the other hand are very importants

    September 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  69. Sherlock Steve

    Jack, investing your career in a college in a bad state of economics might be an OK idea, but if going to college doesn't jump start the economy from college itself, then there's no jobs here and all you get to hold is a paper degree along with student loans that can't be wiped out when you plead broke. It's either go to where the jobs are outside of USA or be broke and homeless forever.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  70. Laura in Massachusetts

    Yes, college is definitely worth it. Best investment I ever made. You get out what you put in. If you expect the easy way out, don't expect a job. It takes hard work and committment. No one ever promised you a job after college. No one said it would be easy. But oyu have to work at it and study and be dedicated and you have to persevere. College is more than worth it. Just the education aspect of it is worth it. I have learned so many wonderful things and become interested in things I never thought I would have.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  71. Andres Serra

    Yes it is worth it. And is more affordable without paying for the big campuses, football teams and other big infrastructures that not everyone uses.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  72. Christine

    I am a sophomore in college and I think college is absolutely worth it, with right reason and purpose. I am volunteering and interning so I can have experience and build my resume when I graduate. My major is political science and I believe I can do anything with it because let's face it, politics runs the world.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  73. Randy Freed

    Nobody knows if it's worth it in their case. But for our son, for whom I started a college fund when he was born, there is enough money for 2 years at community college followed by 2 years at a state college. So if he does get a 4-year degree then there's no debt, and hence, no worries.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  74. Efren

    I have a degree in Musical Theatre, Jack, and deal Blackjack for a living.

    You tell me if college was worth it...

    Phoenix, AZ

    September 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  75. Yolanda

    I am a college graduate and I don't think college has been worth it. The companies simply don't care about a college degree when they can train someone rather easily for the job. I have not found a job where my B.A. Has done anything for me. Either you go for a Doctorate or don't go for a degree at all. A B.A. And even a masters won't assure you a job. Not even an interview. To make matters worse, I am unemployed, in debt over $84,000.00 and can't even remove this debt in Bankruptcy. Students are becoming indentured servants for life.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  76. York from Olympia, WA

    "Is college worth it?" What is "it"? The price of college (or anything) can't rise infinitely and still be worth paying for. College is worth a certain price for each person. If you can't get that price then you should do without, not load up on debt and false hope.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  77. John

    A College Degree of any kind does not matter these days. I have a Bachelors Degree in Applied Mathematical Sciences and have been unemployed since January of 2008.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  78. Kevin

    No, college is not worth it. People just might be catching on to what I've been saying for years. I've met countless people who spend years seeking out more income, only to be left with nothing after paying student loans. They rarely work in a field related to their degree, and didn't learn anything they couldn't have read about at the local library. Colleges are businesses that just want your money.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  79. Kevin (U of Arizona student)

    Yes it is worth it!! What's wrong with this story is people thinking that a college degree will guarantee success in life, which is the wrong attitude. Working hard is the key to success in life, a college degree is an added bonus to make that a possibility. I just started my senior year in college and already have a full time job offer upon graduation because of hard work, so yes it's worth it!

    September 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  80. Magali Axson

    I always preached to my children that college was worth it and I sincerely believe that it still is. But as I look at the student debt loan that we have for 3 bachelor's and 1 master's degree, I have to question our decision. We owe over $350,000 for those degree's and they have 2 education degree's with average starting salaries of $42K at that rate it will take years to pay off the debt if that is all they paid. My bachelor's and master's are paying off in the corporate world so it is truly dependent on what they pursue. But then I due have one that is in his old room looking for a job! So I am not convinced but I truly have to believe it is better than a high school diploma!

    September 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  81. Sergio Barajas

    As a first semester freshman it is necessary for our generation to invest in their education especially in this economy. My major is biochemistry and I'm very confident that I would get a career with this degree. As opposed to an art major where the field is very hard to land a job, let alone a career.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  82. Ryan

    College can be worth it if you play your cards correctly. College can also simply be a nice piece of paper that costs 50,000 dollars with absolutely no real benefit. Degrees like nursing, accounting, or engineering are clearly degrees that can help find a job and allow someone to enter the middle class income bracket. The liberal arts degrees basically teach you nothing for use in the real world and they need to be paired with graduate school or a certification of some sort to be useful. Yes college is worth it but you need to add some other skills of value to the degree.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  83. John Unger

    Hard question to really answer...College does help with learning social skills, but maybe the degrees being sought after are not the right ones. Those that go to college and graduate, should be working on employment skills while at college not after college is over...Like I said, really a difficult question to answer, but would lean toward yes college is worth it but it has to be thought out beforehand and during.....Kelseyville Ca.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  84. Matt


    The dirty little secret that no one ever talks about is that the degree is worth less than your ability to sell yourself to a potential employer afterwards. College is only worth it if you have that skill, or if there's a built in connection to a jobs pipeline at the school you're going to ( one that has a connection to recruiters ). Otherwise, it's a waste.

    Saint Augustine, FL

    September 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  85. Robert L. Potvin

    You have to be a magician today to land a job.50 years ago I hit and was employed on my first attempt as a claim adjuster.Today at age 70 nobody wants me! I think the Internet put a hole in the employment bucket.Bureaucrats (moochers) hold on for dear life at the expense of young, educated, sophisticated graduates.What we need is a job lottery to level the playing field.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  86. Matt M.

    College is worth it, every single cent. The formula is very simple if you want to succeed using your college degree. Get a job, do it better than others and love doing so. If you're stuck in a recession economy like this one, do what I did. Instead of getting a job, create a business. Heck, even Liberal Arts Graduates can create their own enterprise. If no one would give you a job, make your own.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  87. Cody

    My college education cost me greatly and did not help me find a good career. But it did make me a better person- more self aware. That self awareness cost tens of thousands, but it is still priceless.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  88. Greg in Md

    I think people need to have ideas for what career field(s) they want to be in. I went to a 4 year apprenticeship program for electrician. There are other options besides going for a bachelors degree.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  89. Joe Faber

    Is college worth it today??? No! It is grossly overpriced and with such a depressed economy these graduates will NEVER make back the investment. I work at Walmart. You would be surprised at how many college graduates work at Walmart because there was nowhere else to go. Oh, and BTW, I put myself through college while holding down a full time job, 49 years old and I too am stuck at Walmart because of the idiotic and treasonous decisions of the Republican-Democratic Party in Congress and the White House.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  90. CollegeStudentInWA

    I think it’s worth it… What’s our other option? Try and raise a family on minimum wage? As a single father of two kids (which I have full custody of) I rather go to school and acquire that debt in the hopes of getting a well-paying job as opposed to working my fingers to the bone at minimum wage to barely survive.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  91. Pat s. Spokane, WA

    The problem is the cost, not loan interest. Make college more affordable for everyone, that's the solution.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  92. thetokenblackguy

    College is worth it when you go to an affordable college and choose a meaningful major like engineering or business, not psychology or sports management. As with any other investment, you need to make the right decisions with it. Getting a degree for the sake of having a degree doesn't make sense anymore.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  93. MacFab

    You are kidding me Jack right? Of course you are better of having a college degree than not having one. Individuals just need to be smarter in the major they go into. I graduated with a technical degree in summer of 2010 with over $40k in student loan, got a job at the beginning of 2011 and 10 and half months later paid off my student loan. Living happily ever since.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  94. B. Lynn Goodwin

    Is college worth it?

    If you want to learn a trade, no.
    Can you survive without it? Absolutely.

    If you want to learn to think critically and creatively, analyze complex issues, and expand your horizons and beliefs, though, college is worth the time and effort, despite increasing costs and decreasing funds.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  95. Andrew Platt

    A college diploma is worth less and less every day. It may be forth it for those going into Engineering or Medicine but a degree in the Humanities is virtually worthless. I recently made the decision to withdraw from classes and save my hard earned money. I have lost almost all faith in higher education.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  96. Bill Monson

    College is NOT worth it. Due to high cost of Tuition, Books, Housing, Food, etc. Credit Card companies offering applications as the students pay for their tuition at the school cashier, Jacking up their costs that would ruin their credit. Students should be able to get the SAME credits by going to a trade school or get an Internship thru a company so they can make a living while working. This would cut down on costs.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  97. Adam G

    Just saw on CNN is college worth it? It is a lousy investment. Well.. My Response is short and sweet. I gave 8 years of my life some give 4 some give 30. I earned my G.I. Bill and My College is paid for and then some..so was it worth serving your country for 8 years? Your are darn right it was! I had some of the best experiences in my life since I have been in.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  98. therealdrumbum

    I am on the fence..... I have a degree from an amazing engineering school, but everything I do I actually taught myself. However, I'm still left with over 60k in debt from student loans, (unfortunate for me I had to qualify for the loans independently so I also pay a horrible interest rate – financial aid doesn't cover white middle class kids in families struggling with bankruptcy.)

    What stinks is there are plenty of start-up companies that can't pay much that I would have loved to work for, but because of my ridiculous loans amounts I have to demand a much higher salary than many are willing to pay. The irony of it....the more successful I am in my career, the less tax benefits I qualify for – the harder it is to pay the loans. This happens to be exacerbated as major tech hubs like San Francisco are extremely expensive cities to live in.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  99. Joe

    Most of the people that I went to high school with went to college for business management. Four years later they had 20 thousand dollars in debt and I'm debt free and a manager make just as much with no college degree. If you're smart enough and have the drive you should be able to become a manager anywhere in 4 years on your own.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  100. Lisa M in Wisconsin

    Jack, I am a college graduate with a degree in Film/Video, a degree that I don't even need to become a filmmaker. I was told that with my degree I would be able to get a better job. I make $10.80 an hour and that's after my raise. Although I do a job that I truely love it does not require a degree. My boyfriend, however, is a high school drop out and doesn't even have a GED and makes $20.00 as hour. I need him just to help pay off my student loans. He has no debt, owns a motorcycle and a car, while I'm working two jobs just to make ends meet. So to answer your question if college is worth it? Depends would you rather make $10.80 an hour with a degree or $20.00 an hour without?

    September 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  101. Kyle

    When I was first approached by college recruiters in 2006, I was told that I could expect to make $40,000/year with any college degree. By the time I graduated in 2011, that statistic was closer to $25,000/year. In comparison to the $20,000/year I could expect to make without a college degree, I think the 'investment' of an University Education is a little bit of a shame in the present. Not to mention that tuition had literally doubled in price during the time I was in college, I don't how the whole system can expect to remain competitive in a world where the proliferation of free information is exponentially expanding. Thank God.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  102. Nathan (Portland, OR)

    It is absolutely worth it, if gone about correctly and for the right reasons. Choose majors that are more difficult but result in a higher probability for employment. Also, a college education is not just about a job; it is the pursuit of intellectual growth that can profoundly change a person's journey in life.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  103. Erich in San Diego

    Absolutely NOT! I hold a BA and an MA and work in a job that under pays me and where all of my immediate co-workers hold nothing more than a high school diploma. I thought getting an MA would enhance my marketability in the job search. Instead I'm burdened with $80k of student loan debt and barely make enough to pay the bills. If I could do it again, I'd have gone right into the military and learned a valued skillset.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  104. David D. T.

    To answer the question. I have my undergrad. And 'no' there are jobs out there that do not require a degree. Its more based on experience. Its the people who hire the individuals who give them a chance to grow. You see more and more people working outside from what they studied for. Only the degrees that are in the sciences are reputable and can pay back their debt once completed.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  105. Placida Robinson

    Of course college and even more advanced degrees are worth it. We need an educated electorate to be able to understand and make informed political, financial and social choices. I have two Ivy League degrees and working for little in my own business, but my ability to speak another language, execute business and family financial decisions is light years in comparison to what it would be had I not gone to school. Although the loan payments are high, college and graduate school were absolutely worth it.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  106. Adam G

    Quit complaining about how outrageous college is and get of your butts and do something.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  107. Eric

    This is not a unique story and gets very little sympathy from those who are not in our shoes. My wife racked up over $100,000 in student loan debt (graduate and undergraduate, private, out-of state schools). Not a day goes by that this overwhelming amount doesn't affect our lives or our financial decisions. Is college worth it? It is. But it comes at a price. If she had to go back, she would have made smarter decisions about the economic impact this has on out future. A life long lesson learned, and also a burden that we will carry for many many years.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  108. Chandler

    I'm going through college right now at the New England Institute of Technology where i have an Associates in Video & Audio production and currently studying for a Bachelor's degree in Digital Recording Arts, and currently i feel that i am not getting enough out of my education. This particular program is based on tri-mester system which is an accelerated program for students. This particular school i felt at the time was more appealing for interest in Audio production, and it was more of a trade type school, but was dissapointed in learning that this school didn't offer enough hands on experience, and time. Right now i'm caught in the middle of finishing my bachelor's degree at the school when i don't feel like i have enough experience to get out in the working world.

    I agree with more workplaces in all fields not just my own, to allow more entry level jobs where they give on the job training, instead of being left in the dust when you make a mistakes. For my job field that im studying for it's a cut-throat type business that your job security is based on your performance on your last job. I'm not asking for jobs to give out free-passes, but more involvement with allowing entry level jobs at multiple businesses. For myself and others like me, i hope there is a solution to this problem.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  109. MJ

    Going to college has ruined my life. I had more stability, more promise without a college degree. My college degree has done very little for me. My college degree never allowed me to earn enough money to take my child on decent summer vacation. My college degree never help me land a career that I could be proud of. I have more debt than I can ever repay.
    If I could do it all over again, College wouldn't have been part of the plan. College just wasn't worth it.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  110. Larry in Houston

    Is college worth it ?
    Answer : It depends on what you're looking for, in a Job. I know for a fact that people like Steve Jobs & I also know a lot of other people that went to try college out, dropped out, because it didn't work out for them, and some didn't try to go at all, because they either went to some type of tech school, or go ito their own business of some sort. Some , after graduating from high school, they immediately know what they are going to do, such as open up their Own Business, or already know that they are going to work for somebody that they "know" that will hire them.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  111. Bob, St. Thomas PA

    For professional people it's a necessity, so yes, it's worth it for them. For most others, I would say no. The cost has risen exponentially due to government intervention. Many would be better off learning a trade that can't be outsourced and earning money for four years rather than running up a six-figure unforgiveable debt and then finding the career you were training for has been outsourced to China or India.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  112. Kenny

    College diploma is not worth the investment in this lousy economy. Migrated to the US in 1999, was told all you need to succeed in US is go to college. I did just that, got my bachelors and my MBA in Finance and became a US citizen. To make matters worst, I even served in the Military for 6 years with honorable discharge and can't still get a job. My friends that jump straight into the workforce are the one still working. Used to be so proud of my diplomas but now they just collecting dust in my closest.SMH. Some land of opportunity!!!!!

    September 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  113. Reggie53

    Well, with the way Obama has our economy, I do not even think a college degree matters anymore. Even with the college degrees, there are no jobs out there.....thanks to Obama!!!!!! Until the voters see the light and vote Obama out in November, our children will have the same problem....no jobs. Obama has nothing to offer our children and to re-elect him for another 4 years, it will definitely kill their chances of having a successful life ahead of them. We, the parents, are causing our children to suffer the hardship of no jobs because we voted for a person who is totally over his head.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  114. Jack, Lancaster, Ohio

    Mr. Cafferty:

    It is absolutely worth it for the lenders, the colleges, the educators, the universities, the tech schools, the on-line schools. None of these have the responsibilty for job placement since jobs are still in the "basement". It now takes tons and tons of french frying to pay off your college debt, and when one does, you might make night manager at some burger drive thru. At the very least, it is a job by the food !

    September 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  115. Andre

    Without doubt higher education IS overpriced, particularly when compared to both the existing average quality of that education and the return on investment (e.g., post-graduation employment rates). That said, the answer is not to choose a higher education, rather we need strengthen the curricula of many of the baccalaureate programs out there (and, by extension, our high school curricula) and find equally appropriate paths for those not inclined to pursue "traditional" academics. Every citizen has their important role to fill in our society and that requires the cultivation of a range of talents.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  116. Jay

    A WORTHWILE college degree is worth it. And while we are at it, student loan interest rates should be based on your degree...a math or an engineering major should get to pay a lower rate than a philosophy or a liberal arts major.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  117. Bill Monson - Farmington Hills, MI

    College is NOT worth it. Due to high cost of Tuition, Books, Housing, Food, etc. Credit Card companies offering applications to students as they pay for their tuition which then would jack up their costs and would ruin their credit. Several students would have a Bachelors or Masters Degree and still can't find work. Students should be able to get the SAME credits by going to a trade school or get an Internship thru a company so they can make a living while working. Students should be able to buy their new books thru an outside source which would greatly cut down on costs.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  118. Jason in Syracuse

    Clearly everyone deserves an opportunity to learn anything they want to, but at what cost? Why is it that because I am young and new to the Earth that I must pay an "entry fee" in the form of tuition just to be learn what the human race has already figured out? There is no university in the world that can justify a $20,000/year education.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  119. Harvey

    A college degree does not give you a job, but does help you succeed. A undergraduate degree will open doors and provide opportunities while someone who doesn't have a degree, may never get an opportunity. More importantly (to me), a higher education received in college fills a person's mind with new ideas, and that may trigger them to come up with their own ideas that can lead to a better life.

    Unfortunately, I feel that the public school system has been neglected and people are not prepared for college.

    Success can be defined many ways... having a piece of paper doesn't mean your going to be successful. Your work ethic, your drive, and your passion will help you succeed more.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  120. Carlina

    Strong Humanities, Arts and Science college courses and job-related, 'real-world' courses are not, and should not be mutually exclusive. Higher academic learning at its best, is not only "worth it" – it is crucial for American students, in order to expand their knowledge, sharpen their critical thinking skills, and enhance the creative, intellectual and cultural impetuses necessary for SHAPING as well as navigating & the workplace. Reform our education system in ways that elevate and properly compensate teachers so that some of our best and brightest students are enticed into the teaching profession. Invest in education in order to reform the awful financial aid burden of college students. But to throw college out w/ the bath-water – no way. An either-or scenario is counter-productive.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  121. Paul

    College is less valuable than it has ever been. We need leadership in government that promotes hard work, ingenuity, and business development; not bailouts, government services, and taxing the businessman or woman (called the "rich" by most democrats) and diminishing our free market economy. The jobs after college will be there sooner if we regain leadership in the presidency that stands for and has lived these principles.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  122. Anthony

    At this time and age,college is only worth it if you're studying with a job at hand. Myself i was to start college this fall but i dropped out before i started after receiving the first bill. I'm now nurturing my entrepreneurship skills cos i believe what matters most is ones creativity regardless of academic background.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  123. shingling

    Most of the folks on here singing the praises of college must have had an easy time getting a return on their investment. My friends and I have not had this experience at all. I can remember on the day of graduation the top student in our Senior class exclaimed she had been offered a minimum wage job from a recent interview. She was incredulous. So were we. That was a few years go, however, I have not found any job that mandated I have a college degree. If you are going to be a doctor or engineer then yes a degree is a must. Any other field then I would say no. A degree is not worth it. You will be nothing but a debt slave for life.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  124. Tan Man in Kansas

    I went directly into a major Univesity right after High School, and paid for it with savings bonds my parents and grandparents had so intellegently saved especially for that purpose. The tuition cost was outrageous, and I was overwhelmed; within one year I had been dismissed due to grades. Then on to the Community college: went two and a half years and never decided what was right for me... and it was STILL very expensive, but much more enjoyable and involved; I ENJOYED IT. But when my bonds ran out, that was it. I have friends today that graduated from the same major university I went to, and one of them is working for a landscaping business, as a "grunt-laborer", at $8.25 an hour. He has $60,000 to $80,000 in student loans to pay back. As wierd as it may sound, I'm grateful I never got a useless degree and a lifetime of loan payments. I was, however able to become HVAC certified by reading an 18 page booklet and taking a simple test. With that certification, I was making just over $30,000 a year, which was a fairly decent LIVING WAGE.... My friend BARELY MAKES IT each month, and is overwhelmed about finances, living a life of constant worry.... Not the life for me!!! NEVER will I BORROW money for school=a poor decision, plain and simple.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  125. Dale N.M.

    Today's colleges coast-to-coast are nothing but big business, everything has outrageous price tags on it, and just about everybody that is administrative or teaching staff on college grounds make six figure salaries, do the math.

    Also all universities are heavily invested in the stock markets gambling money, what's up with that.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  126. Peggy

    College is still worth it, there are many more things that college education provides if one is open to it. The critical thinking skills that can be aquired are a valuable benefit. When choosing a four year college, students should be given guidance to the opportunities available when they finish so they may make an informed choice on their course of study.
    I do feel it is time to evaluate our educational system from top to bottom. There is still great benefit in a traditional college degree, but there needs to be a thorough evaluation of the benefit of skills training to fit the needs of the country. That said, even a skills program should promote the basics of math skill, grammer and spelling. It is a sad situation to review job applications with spelling errors and gramatical errors sticking out like a sore thumb.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  127. Nate, Ohio

    I would say right now it is not. I graduated Spring '09, at the height of the recession, and haven't found a job worthy of the student loan debt I'm in. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to have a job...but there is no career opportunity where I'm currently at... Like a lot of other people I know from school, our talent is being severely underused and this doesn't help the country move forward at all without putting the people who specialize in their fields to work IN THEIR FIELD.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  128. James Davis

    I can not say that college is or is not worth it. That all depends on the person and job they can find. I graduated in May, and was unable to find a job in my degree feild. So now I am working full time for minium wage, while take graduate courses full time as well to try and better my odds of finding a job. I come from a small midwestern town where I could have started farming right out of high school. Now I look back and see where my old high school class mates are compared to myself. No, they do not make six figures a year being a farmer but I am already over 40,000 in debt and growning....So who is the fool? My class mates for not going to college and farmimg or me for going to college and swimming in debt? I can only hope a graduate degree will help me find a job that will be enough to pay back the amount of debt that seems to grow by the minute.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  129. Xander Jones

    Over the last few decades college has gone from being a celebration of higher learnning and the cultivation of mankind's most precious cultural capital (humanities, civics, philosophy, sciences, etc) to now just being another hoop we make our youth jump through before allowing them to go sit behind a desk. If you view college as just a prerequisite for getting a job, then perhaps its a poor investment at the moment; but if you appreciate the core values of higher education and see college as a system that preserves and advances society's rich cultural story, then it is indeed worth the sacrifice.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  130. Rick Robinson Janesville, Wisconsin

    College is for education, not training. Education is about value, not price. Under the guise of universal education, we have created a different type of apprenticeship for many professions, an apprenticeship paid by the prospective employee instead of the prospective employer. Now, we need fewer college-trained apprentices, but we are creating more and more. Its economics 101 – increase supply without increasing demand and the price goes down!

    September 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  131. David Hytone, Seattle

    While the spiraling cost of college tuition is something that must be brought under control, one must question the purpose behind all those expensive degrees. Once was the time that people pursued a college degree as a path to greater knowledge and a deeper understanding of the world around them, not as a glorified trade school. As a recipient of a Fine Arts degree from a four year program I can tell you that my life was irrevocably changed for the better despite providing little in the way of tangible career skills. If a student attends college only as preparation for the job market, any tuition, no matter how affordable, is likely to be of good value as it misses the point of education- to better oneself purely for the sake of bettering oneself.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  132. John from Olympia, WA

    It wasn't for me. With 1561 days post-graduation behind me and 849 resumes sent, I've had exactly 30 days of full time employment at $11 an hour in a job close to the field of study I was educated in. I even ended up getting a second degree, graduating in 2011, which hasn't mattered either.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  133. Tom Bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    In a democracy education is essential in preventing voters from being buffaloed by Romneys and Ryans.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  134. Kirsten M.

    I believe that college was a great step in furthering my own future, but I went into it knowing I would have to attend graduate school after undergrad in order to be successful. In this country a lot of young students go into an undergraduate institution with no idea what they can do or want to do with their degrees. Instead of pushing our kids to enter college and accumulate so much debt so early in life, maybe the trick is just pushing them into the workforce for a year or two in order for them to better equip themselves for the financial and work world, in essence, teach them how to be responsible with their money. So many students nowadays utilize student loans as their pay check and they use that money for everything, just accumulating more debt in turn.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  135. irving

    When I was 20 was never eligible for financial aid because I was under 25 and I was still my parents responsibly. Even tho I explained I'm living on my own and we don't even live in the same state. And I could not afford paying a loan and still pay my rent . (my parents taught me clintion arithmetic when I was a teen). But the schools hammered me so much about pushing my parents for a loan. It felt like a bad deal then and Im glad I did not do it.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  136. David Hytone, Seattle

    While the spiraling cost of college tuition is something that must be brought under control, one must question the purpose behind all those expensive degrees. Once was the time that people pursued a college degree as a path to greater knowledge and a deeper understanding of the world around them, not as a glorified trade school. As a recipient of a Fine Arts degree from a four year program I can tell you that my life was irrevocably changed for the better despite providing little in the way of tangible career skills. If a student attends college only as preparation for the job market, any tuition, no matter how affordable, is unlikely to be of good value as it misses the point of education- to better oneself purely for the sake of bettering oneself.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  137. bkw

    As a biz. owner, in most cases, I would have to say it is more than likely it will be a bad investment. College age folks need to have more real life work exp. Also, I asked two professionals, my orthopedic and my optometrist a similar question. The orthopedic said "when he and a best High school friend, who went into construction after high school, compared themselves financially, the doctor will not break even (after paying his education debt), financially, until the age of 50. The optometrist said "he is trying to talk his daughter out of going to college". Not only is the college cost to high, but the quality of education is really bad. As a biz owner, I expect more from the majority of the college grads I have encountered.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  138. Geoff Bant

    Is High School worth it? Grammer School? Going to college should not be merely a financial proposition. Payback analysis should not be the thing that determines whether we seek a college dregree. If that is the case then those with fewer resources will not attend and those who do not have to worry about money will fill the colleges and the class system and wealth distribution in the United states will become even more exagerated. College should be free to every citizen, just like High School.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  139. Paul, Houston. TX

    I believe that colleges are misleading and manipulating students by making promises that a four year degree will get them a better life just to get money out of the students which leads people to be in a worse situation later in life than they were in the past because corporations and businesses are not fooled to what colleges are doing and can careless about students with four year degrees unless they either graduated from an ivy league school or because of race and gender. Education is important but its helpless if it can't get you a job that pays. You might as well have internet or go to library an educate yourself for free.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  140. Hannah

    I believe my college experience benefited me in terms of allowing me several years of exposure to a wide variety of worldviews and certain opportunities that people not attending college would never see. That being said, I have yet to see the compensatory benefits of having a college degree: a higher-paying job that offers, say, insurance and/or a retirement plan. I recently moved to a small town because my husband was offered his first teaching job (a job offer that was the result of over a year of waiting and searching). In our new town, I've been extremely disappointed not only to see that very few jobs are available, but having to face the fact that if I ever do find employment, it will be something I could have done right out of high school. I think many of us are unemployed or underemployed and rather "stuck" in situations we never imagined we'd be in. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about being a recent graduate looking for a job is that we were never told how long we'd just be drifting along, searching. How unhelpful our alma mater would actually be in terms of helping us search or make connections with potential employers. What a different predicament we find ourselves facing when compared to our parents' era, when employers wanted you before you'd even crossed the graduation stage. I'm also highly irritated by the small-town ridiculousness of hiring people solely based on their connections with other people in town rather than a concrete set of skills or a willingness to work. So is college worth it? I don't know yet. Having been nothing but disappointed in my quest for fulfilling work so far, I'd say not. I'm in significant debt and can't get hired to earn wages to pay it off. Something is wrong with that system.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  141. Liz. Florida

    Depends Jack, If it's a degree in library science, probably not, nursing or engineering probably yes.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  142. Tom

    No, college is not worth the money and time spent in attaining a degree. A person would be better off learning a trade and would be miles ahead of his counter part in terms of finance. Education today is nothing more than a place to put your kids for 4 years to keep them out of your hair. The same for elementary school where teachers are nothing more than high paid baby sitters

    September 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  143. Andrew Dellinger

    It has become clear that college degrees from four-year institutions are becoming less and less applicable in the real world. I've come to believe that an intelligent person who is determined to be educate can and will get that same education for $1.50 in late fees at their local public library. There’s a major disconnect between most university curriculums and the needs of the labor market. What our workforce will need if it intends to move forward is a more access to trade schools, a larger focus on hands-on internships, and approaching student loans for four-year institutions with more skepticism. Put simply, there are sometimes better options out there than taking on excessive amounts of debt for a watered down Liberal Arts degree, especially when half your time at the university was spent on general education courses that may not have even been necessary. If we hope to improve our job market, we have to improve the means we use to train the people moving into it.

    Andrew D.
    Nashville, TN

    September 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  144. Mine

    College is worth it, but it's not for everyone. I am encouraging my child to get one but that is because of the field she has chosen – nursing.
    Trade schools and "career centers" should get a more fair shake.
    Reality check:
    There is such a push for kids to go to college so that they have that possibility for the "big money job". Yes, that would be nice however there are only so many of those to go around.

    Looking towards the long term and 'infrastructure' – mechanics, plumbers, electricians, beauticians will always have jobs. It may not always be big jobs, but it will be steady work and NOT work that anyone can do. This is the economic foundation we rely on.
    I will always respect my appliance repair man. My banker/doctor/lawyer? Hmmmm, maybe.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  145. Eric

    Isn't the reason why the jobless rate is so high is because of high school drop-outs? There are a lot of jobs available in the U.S., a lot of people are just not qualified. College seems worth it, Obama is on the right track, Romney is not.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  146. Cordell

    Sure it is, Jack do you think CNN would hire you if you did not have a degree? Of course not, I say go for it and roll the dice.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  147. Susan-NJ

    NO it's not worth it. For most courses an indvivdual could educate themselves far more efficiently. Instead of the 1 book the prof uses the student could use 3-4. Then there are all the requirements which takes time away from the elected field. A degree is old boy network baloney-money is paid for certification that one knows the subject which usually isin't true. The esult being the condition of our economy today.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  148. Xander Jones

    Over the last few decades college has gone from being a celebration of higher learning and the cultivation of mankind's most precious cultural capital to now being just another hoop we make our youth jump through before assuming a mundane position behind a desk. If you see college as just a prerequisite for getting a job, then perhaps it's not the best investment at the moment; but if you appreciate the core values of higher education and see college as a system that preserves and advances society's cultural story, then it is indeed worth the sacrifice.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  149. Jack G

    As a career counselor with over 20 years experience in higher education, I have served many, many clients who regreted not getting a degree. They listened to the nay sayers who didn't tell them that their earnings would level off early and remain low. The loans will get paid off. Opportunities will open up for college grads that are simply not there for non-grads. Yes, higher education is costly and requires sacrifices but consider the alternative! Low pay, limited advancement and lots of future regret!

    September 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  150. Cynthia York-Camden MS, RD, LDN

    Yes college is so worth it. Much better off even as a laid off professional. Better person, more thoughtful person, More confident person, more resourceful person. Have a home that is nearly paid for which I could not have done as a waitress for 17 years. Starting my own business which could not have been done without my credentials. That being said if I could have recieved benefits such as a pension or 401 K and insurance as a waitres... well I would not have gone to school. Loved being a waitress but needed insurance and benefits. I paid for my collage myself with help from grants and worked so it took longer but I did not have lots of debt either. Go to college and then build from there...Don't go too much in debt and it will always be a great investment.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  151. Josh D, UCSB, GO GAUCHOS!!!!

    Yes college is worth it!!!

    Determining the value of one's college experience should not rely solely on the ability of the graduate's ability to repay their loans. Based on the examples given during your show, "Is college financially worth it", would have been a better question choice

    A major portion of the college experience is not work related (academically speaking). Worth can be found in events, organizations, and the overall environment that college facilitates. These value activities may or may not develop future financial stability for the participating student. However, it is my belief that most of college's worth is found in activities like these. It is not about how much money will you be making in the future. Instead, the experiences that will shape individual are what make college and it's experiences worth it.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  152. Mel

    Worth the price if and only if you're able to get a job that is relevant to your degree. Engineers, doctors, scientists, etc, are almost always promised to land a job immediately, therefore they can pay off their student loans in a sufficient amount of time.

    But why offer the choice of pursuing something in liberal arts if you're going to spend the majority of your youth working two jobs rather than the one you spent at least four years working for.

    Yes, college is a wonderful experience, but the cost of making friends should never be this high.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  153. Gayla Dunfee

    Graduating from Bethel University 2011with a student loan over $50,000.00 I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Management & Organizational Development; GDP of 3.66 as Cum Laude and abducted into the Alpha Beta Kappa Honors Society has not given a chance to get my foot in the door. I guess what I have been told by employers and educators; go to college make good grades and you will be the applicant that will stand out above all the rest. I have not found that to be true.

    September 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  154. Del in Bulldog Contry Athens GA

    The right college degree is worth the EFFORT... usually... When you know, absolutely know, what you want to do ... and have the gun powder (brain power – with proven high school class performance ) to learn and perform in that field.

    NOW is it worth the MONEY?... is another question... A kid going to a specific college to get the wanted knowledge may have to go out of state and or to a specialized school and the cost will be OVER $160,000 in loans +... I know .. mine are there. . . . At 20% of their income it may take over 20 years to pay these debts off without interest.

    WHAT ARE WE DOING? Most people don't NEED to go to college... just work... take the illegal aliens jobs . . as they leave! .... Why go to college to find yourself?... Join the military! .. then go for education... then work in the private sector... NOT THE GOVERNMENT ... somebody has got to make the money to pay the tax debt !

    September 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  155. Patrick in Maryland

    American colleges should do away with a large percentage of their degree programs. Higher education opportunities were once reserved for a small minority of the U.S. population and only for those who were the cream of the crop in the secondary education system. We now live in a society where everyone must be a “winner” and one cannot be deemed to have value in the competitive job market unless they are a college graduate, thus creating a demand. I’ve lived in many countries where a small percentage of the college age youth attend degree generating institutions. All others are pushed to vocation programs or an apprenticeship in a specific trade. All others are simply the blue collar workers within society. As my father once told me, “You can work hard in school, but the world still needs its ditch diggers.”

    September 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  156. Gary, Virginia

    Jack, I absolutely agree with your comment about working outside your degree plan and I'm sure that those affected are thrilled but if K through 12 is met why taken on a debt that will most like live longer responsible party. I really loved the comment Jenna from CA as she correlates not having a college education with settling for a career at McDonald's, but in my opinion that's where work ethic begins go Blue Collar first then White and I bet she has never considered what it takes to interpret the blueprints from that architect by that construction worker that built the house she calls home. It's about what your willing to take on, you can pay the bills that allow you live driving a nail or truck for around 4k or you make a little more or less for that fact with a nice chunk going to that college that you can't seem to get away from..............................

    September 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm |